California Leads the Way Out of the Rape Culture With Yes Means Yes Law

rape culture

Bad news for certain types who have been suggesting that there are “real” rapes and the obligatory non-real rapes, you know, the kind where the girl/woman asks for it because she was asleep or unconscious or drunk. Not anymore. At least not in California.

Democratic Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Sunday night that can best be summed up as “Yes Means Yes”. The bill, SB967, was championed by state Senator Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) and applies to college campuses in California.

“With one in five women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault, it is high time the conversation regarding sexual assault be shifted to one of prevention, justice, and healing,” the Democratic Senator said to Governor Brown while lobbying him to sign the bill, according to CBS News.

Upsetting the National Coalition for Men (this group doesn’t represent the majority of men, and furthermore, rapes and sexual assaults are committed by a small number of repeat offenders not the general population of men), the bill says silence isn’t consent. It moves the onus away from the woman saying “no” enough times and with enough force and into a new paradigm where the woman must be able to give a willing consent.

The bill reads in part:

An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

Affirmative consent can be revoked at any time. This means, for example, that no longer can the accused claim that she had sex with him two hours ago so he had sex with her while she was sleeping (sans protection, unlike the first time — just tossing out examples from recent media mishaps) because he presumed consent.

It’s also not okay to assume drunk/drugged means yes:

(2) A policy that, in the evaluation of complaints in any disciplinary process, it shall not be a valid excuse to alleged lack of affirmative consent that the accused believed that the complainant consented to the sexual activity under either of the following circumstances:
(A) The accused’s belief in affirmative consent arose from the intoxication or recklessness of the accused.
(B) The accused did not take reasonable steps, in the circumstances known to the accused at the time, to ascertain whether the complainant affirmatively consented.

(4) A policy that, in the evaluation of complaints in the disciplinary process, it shall not be a valid excuse that the accused believed that the complainant affirmatively consented to the sexual activity if the accused knew or reasonably should have known that the complainant was unable to consent to the sexual activity under any of the following circumstances:
(A) The complainant was asleep or unconscious.
(B) The complainant was incapacitated due to the influence of drugs, alcohol, or medication, so that the complainant could not understand the fact, nature, or extent of the sexual activity.
(C) The complainant was unable to communicate due to a mental or physical condition.

The usual suspects objected to this bill — some Republicans and the National Coalition for Men, per CBS, with Republicans in the Assembly arguing that legislation isn’t the “appropriate venue to define sexual consent between two people.” In other words, they don’t think law should come into play, because apparently sexual violence isn’t a crime and doesn’t need to be defined by legislation.

The National Coalition for Men endorsed the Republican version of the Violence Against Women Act, which was dubbed the PRO-Violence Against Women Act. They claimed, according to Think Progress, that it protected the “true victims” of domestic violence, heterosexual men. They also got outraged over self defense classes for women, arguing that they were being discriminated against. It appears that they don’t understand the concept of being a majority class versus a minority class. At any rate, they joined some Republicans in objecting to Yes Means Yes, saying it presumes the guilt of the accused. Obviously, they prefer to assume the guilt of the victim.

This law is a huge step forward in ending the rape culture. This law affords women the right to their body, and makes it clear that our bodies aren’t community property to be used and taken by whoever wants something. Just like one wouldn’t take money out of someone’s wallet without asking, one should not engage in sexual activity without knowing that the other party wants to do so at that time and continues to want to do so.

28 Replies to “California Leads the Way Out of the Rape Culture With Yes Means Yes Law”

  1. Well this just ruins the culture of men. Are we to no longer think that women are simply objects that should be made available to the phallic device we use as a brain? What would Moses and Noah say about this? Would they wag their beards? The quiverfull movement must be dying in agony at this point!

  2. And then all the college california girls will be wondering why not a single male on campus wants to be anywhere near them.

    Also, congratulations Jerry Brown, with the passing of this law, requiring the accused to produce evidence that their partner consented, you’ve made it so that its now guilty until proven innocent. Congratulations you ignorant prat.

  3. Talk with people caught up in the justice system, with those incarcerated, whether they are awaiting trial or have already been convicted, there are many who will tell you that it is indeed already a “guilty until proven innocent” mentality within the courts.

  4. Look, I understand what the law is trying to prevent. But as I’ve always said, I believe in communication… Which means someone has to tell me they don’t like something!

    That isn’t just in sex, but EVERYTHING. If someone is doing something that I don’t like, I generally shouldn’t expect them to read my mind. If they don’t know, I need to tell them, or I have no right to complain. Isn’t that common sense?

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been criticized, or others have been in front of me, for not voicing their discomfort. Personally, I get extremely angry when I find out someone has been letting me do something they don’t like for a long time. And generally, I’ve been told that’s a reasonable reaction.

  5. This law is to protect those who are in no shape to say yes or no – or tell you they don’t like something. It can also protect those who might be making out with someone but doesn’t want it to go any further – and that someone won’t take no for an answer.

    No one is asking you to be a mind reader, that’s ridiculous.

    What they are asking you to be is an adult who knows that people who cannot give consent are not, in effect, consenting; and that people who say no at any point during their encounter with you have the right NOT TO BE RAPED.

    Honestly, women are asked to do all of these things in order to keep themselves from getting raped. Don’t wear this, don’t wear that; don’t drink; don’t go to parties; don’t do this, that and the other thing.

    Men are asked one thing and one thing only – don’t rape – and they just feel so put upon about it.

    Really…we ask for ONE thing and ONE thing only.

    Don’t rape anyone.

    How difficult is this?

  6. Really, Darkmane, how difficult is it for you to gain the consent of the man or woman you would like to have sex with?

    All they have to do is say “yes.”

    But if they cannot say “yes” or if they decline your generous offer to sleep with them, all they want is for you not to rape them.

    Now is that asking too much?

    Of course it’s not.

    So relax. If you are the fine upstanding citizen your parents no doubt think you are, then I’m sure you will have no difficulty understanding that no means no, yes means yes until it’s a no, and if he or she is passed out, you don’t take advantage.

    I’m sure you already abide by all of this today so tell me, exactly, what is your deal with this law?

  7. Nobody is saying rape is okay. But, this bill completely eliminates the presumption of innocence. There is no way to properly defend yourself unless you and your partner sign documents confirming consent every time your have sex.

    If someone randomly accuses you of stealing, they have to provide evidence that you stole something. But, if someone randomly accuses you of rape, YOU have to prove that you didn’t rape anyone. I would be very surprised if this law didn’t get overturned.

  8. Paws,

    It’s not as simple as hearing your partner to say yes. The accused has to PROVE that their partner said yes.

    Devil’s advocate here: lets pretend a woman is going through a messy divorce. To help get custody of her kids, she lies and says that her married husband of 10 years just raped her last month while they were still together. How does the husband prove that it wasn’t actually rape?

  9. Why? If you say you have a headache, does she force herself on you? Do you force yourself on her if she’s passed out drunk?

  10. Wow, who writes these completely bias and one sided articles? I like how just because someone disagrees you make up your own explanation for why (throwing out their true reasoning that has basis) and going with one that you feel will garner more hatred from your audience. Classy. The issue that you seemed to laugh at and gloss over at the end is a REAL issue. Rape is a tricky thing because it is hard to prove. In nearly every case you literally have two sides and its a he said, she said, case with no other evidence. Nobody is claiming the victim should be presumed guilty (as you tried to play it) but the accused in our system is supposed to always be presumed innocent with burden of proof on the prosecution. However with rape this is often reversed. The accused is immediate guilty and must prove their innocence. Unless you had them sign a contract this is nearly impossible of course. People aren’t blaming the victim but there has to be more than just accusing that makes 1 guilt…

  11. “Upsetting the National Coalition for Men (this group doesn’t represent the majority of men”)

    I agree, just like The National Organization For Women doesn’t represent the majority of women.

  12. There IS evidence – it’s called a rape kit. But even evidence collected from the victim, along with her statement, documentation of injuries, etc., is often disregarded in the quest for the victim to be blamed for his or her own rape. That’s provided the rape kit even gets tested. Some states have a backlog of kits running into the hundreds – some even into the thousands.

    Victims are presumed guilty and it’s disingenuous to state otherwise. They are told they were asking for it because of what they wore, what they drank, the time of night they were out, they were passed out, etc.

    Yes, there are false accusations but we live in a society where even when someone is passed out and clearly cannot consent, he/she still has to fight tooth and nail to be believed. Even if the entire rape is on video.

    As long as we live in a culture that treats all rape victims like this, then we will need laws like this one in California.

    The world doesn’t need more rape apologists.

  13. The author of this article obviously didn’t do any research into NCFM’s objection to the self defense only for women clases. As a result of NCFM’s letter, the City of Glendale created self sefense classes for men, and it was very successful and NCFM’s actions were supported by the Glendale News Press, who challenged the city councilmen for their ignorance about male victims of domestic violence.,0,2520174.story

  14. More college men are suing their colleges for kicking them out on false accusations without due process. The Duke Lacrosse players, who were kicked off the team and mobbed at their homes without any hearing, are the tip of the iceberg.

    False accusations are hard to measure statistically. According to the FBI, “The unfounded rate, or percentage of complaints determined through investigation to be false, is higher for forcible rape than for any other Index crime. Eight percent of forcible rape complaints in 1996 were “unfounded,” while the average for all Index crimes was 2 percent.” See p. 24 at

    But that figure is very conservative. It does not include false claims made to non-police entities like universities, or false claims that were never proven false and only get classified as “unsubstantiated.”

  15. “YOU have to prove that you didn’t rape anyone.”

    I’m sorry, Chris, but it is the victim who usually has to prove that they were raped. In some states, rape kits are sitting on shelves untested and as recent news reports indicate, victims are oftentimes blamed – either explicitly or in veiled language.

    It is unfortunate that we live in a society where we need laws like the one in California. It seems obvious, doesn’t it, that the simple solution is for people not to rape anyone – especially one who is passed out or not in a fit state to consent to anything?

    Why do we need such a law? What is it about society that we need a law like this?

    I think that is the conversation we ought to be having. If you don’t like the law, then let’s hear how we change society so that victims are treated like victims and not like criminals, and one that provides a fair judicial process for the accused.

  16. “The accused has to PROVE that their partner said yes.”
    Instead of the current system of the VICTIM needing to PROVE they said no? So it’s better if the victim is presumed a lying slut who was asking for it?

  17. The fact is, if asking “do you wanna?” cramps anyone’s style, they need a new style.

    If anything, this makes things easier — “greases the wheels” as it were — by bringing things into the open. No more furtive “I hope she (or he) doesn’t say no” as things progress.

    Contrast this with the Republicans “legitimate rape” position. More proof that it is good to live in a blue state.

  18. I wonder how this is going to play out with the “made to penetrate” cases? If this law hold true in that type of case then just maybe progress has been made, if not it just another gender bias law. Men are not the only perpetrators!

  19. This is already happening but on the flip side. In rape cases the victim has to prove they said no. It is one of the reasons why sexual assault is hard to prosecute. If the one side has already had to deal with what you’re complaining about now why is it suddenly a big deal that it’s now on the other foot?

  20. Because of the inevitable problems with “he said, she said” disputes in sexual matters, I think what’s needed is — before coitus (or whatever clearly defined variation) is attempted (first OR subsequent times) by unmarried partners — we need a WITNESS ON SITE to verify mutual consent. Such witnesses could be “on call” — perhaps pre-positioned in ambulances or fire stations.

    Of course, a drug and alcohol test would be mandatory, to ensure no diminished capacity by the parties to the contract. The actual consensual paperwork (properly witnessed by a notary) would be minimal, I’m sure.

    While the sexual stimulus doubtless would suffer, the economic stimulus of employing millions of such folks is undeniable. Just ask Paul Krugman!

  21. Consent apps won’t solve the legal requirements in California. Our new law requires CONTINUOUS consent throughout the act.

    The only “app” that’s gonna work is a continuous video of the entire tryst, automatically sent to a secure remote location. Given our government’s documented record of confidentially, I’d suspect an ancillary benefit is that these videos — once pirated and distributed — will finally put the Internet porn industry out of business!

    For every problem, there’s just such a commonsense government solution.

  22. Presumption of innocence is absolutely important in a democratic society, because it’s better to let go a guilty man (He will be caught, eventually) rather than imprison an innocent one.

    Yes, it’s harsh, and yes, it only fuels the pain of a real victim to know her aggressor, a sexual predator, may be free to act again, but we cannot allow laws to be bent and be unbiased. If we allow exceptions, we will still allow bad people to harm innocents, just the same.

    It’s the same with domestic abuse. In Spain you need to proove your innocence, and even before that there are still measures against the male, before any kind of trial. Yes, it’s absolutely shameful we have to see women getting beaten to death for those supposed to be their beloveds, but jailing innocents is NOT acceptable.

    DISCLAIMER: I reject rape or any kind of violence against my fellow citizens, so no falacies of suggesting I’m a rapist or approve of it.

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