I am a recent graduate, and want to share with you a few of my experiences that I think are illustrative of why the new affirmative-consent laws are out of touch with the reality of the human experience. I hope they can be of some value to the debate.
I was raised by a left-leaning, feminist family who (at least I thought at the time) were relatively open about sex. But while I arrived at college with a healthy respect for women, I was totally unprepared for the complex realities of female sexuality.
“Oh,” sighed one platonic female friend after we had just watched Harrison Ford grab Alison Doody and kiss her is Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Why don’t guys do that kind of thing anymore? Now days they are all too scared.”
On our second night together, one of my first partners threw up her hands in disgust. “How am I supposed to get turned on when you keep asking for permission for everything like a little boy?” She said. “Just take me and fuck me already.”
She didn’t stay with me for long.
This would be a recurring theme. More than once I saw disappointment in the eyes of women when I didn’t fulfill the leadership role they wanted me to perform in the bedroom. I realized that women don’t just desire men, they desire men’s desire―and often they don’t want to have to ask for it. I also realized that I was in many ways ashamed of my own sexual desire as a man, and that this was not healthy.
At this point I was experiencing some cognitive dissonance with my upbringing, but in time learned to take an assertive lead unless I got a “no” or otherwise thought I was about to cross a boundary as indicated by body language.
One night I ended up back in a girl’s room after a first date (those do happen in college). She had invited me in and was clearly attracted to me. We were kissing on her bed, outer layers of clothing removed, but when my hands wandered downward she said, “No, wait.” I waited. She began kissing me again, passionately, so again I moved to remove her underwear. “Stop,” she said, “this is too fast.” I stopped.
“That’s fine,” I said. I kissed her again and left soon after, looking forward to seeing her again.
But my text messages received only cold, vaguely angry replies, and then silence. I was rather confused. Only many weeks later did I find out the truth from one of her close friends: “She really wanted you, but you didn’t make it happen. She was pretty upset that you didn’t really want her.”
“Why didn’t she just say so then, why did she say we were moving too fast?”
“Of course she said that, you dumbass. She didn’t want you to think she was a slut.”
Talk about confusing. Apparently in this case even no didn’t mean no. It wasn’t the last time I've come across “token resistance” that is intended to be overcome either. But that’s a line that I am still uncomfortable with testing, for obvious reasons.
But I have learned not to ask when it clearly isn’t necessary, or desired.
One of my fondest sexual experiences started with making eye contact across a room, moved to a dance floor, and then to an empty bathroom. Not a single word was ever spoken, because none had to be. We both knew and understood. I was a man and she was a woman, and we found ourselves drawn together in that beautiful way that men and women have been since a time immemorial, a time long before language was ever spoken.
Today in California this would be considered rape. I find that very sad. Women are not infantile. They can make their own decisions about sex, and that includes being able to say no―even if they don’t want to have to say yes.
"'Under an affirmative-consent standard, consent need not be verbal. Depending on the details, it's possible that your "saw her across the room" hookup was fine.'
And right there is what's so crazy about affirmative consent. First, the claim is that "just because she didn't say anything didn't mean she wanted it," and now it's "need not be verbal." That's nuts. More and more, it seems that affirmative consent really means "it all depends on how she feels the next morning.""
"the token resistance is formulaic. For instance, if you ask somebody how it's going or how they're doing, you're supposed to answer good, not actually tell them how you're doing, because it's an established way of greeting people. It's a pro forma behavior that doesn't actually mean anything more than shaking someone's hand. You're supposed to lie if you're feeling poorly or whatever.
Similarly, the token resistance on the part of the woman is an established part of the game, though obviously it makes telling the difference between "no, get away you creep" and "no, but really yes, because of tradition" more difficult. However, this is where being able to read people comes in, and being able to tell the difference between what the person really means, and the literal meaning, comes into play."
"You are legislating how consenting adults must have sex. I seriously doubt that women wanted to replace a bunch of patriarchs telling them what to do with their bodies, with a bunch of matriarchs telling them what to do with their bodies. If a woman wants to be pursued or persuaded, why in a free society do people get to tell her she can't? If a woman doesn't want to give verbal permission to every step, why are we removing her choice?... The only thing that will happen is that bad boys will become even more valued by women."
"What do you say to pro-lifers when they say just don't have pre-marital sex (or use protection, etc etc) and that if you do, well, have an "accident" you should own your own mistake? Or what about simply passing a law that any sex between any people less than 18 years of age, no matter the age difference, is by definition non-consensual and therefore rape?"