Yes Means Yes: Consent Law
Together we can make sure that when sex happens it is a positive experience for everyone involved. This positive experience is based upon consent, a mutual agreement by both parties involved in every action that occurs along the way. Consent means both of you are ready and willing to share that moment and that both of you have control over what that moment will be like. In other words, both people have to say “Yes” and to continue to say “Yes” as the interactions continue – this is what healthy intimacy is all about!
In 2014, The State of California enacted Senate Bill 967 setting the standard of affirmative consent for all colleges and universities. Affirmative consent means “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” and 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.” You can view the bill in its entirety on the California Legislative Information website under SB-967.
How Do I Know If It’s a Yes?
While someone might not always verbally say “Yes” to sex, there are some basic guidelines to follow to make sure both parties consent:
- Consent is informed. It’s something you decide to do, not just let happen. It’s okay to talk about what you’re feeling and what you want to do – that’s how you’ll know that you both agree with moving forward.
- Consent is voluntary. It’s never okay to force someone to have sex, including threatening, intimidating, or pressuring them.
- Consent can be taken back. Just because someone agrees to one form of sexual activity doesn’t mean she or he is willing to do other forms of sexual activity. Positive sexual activities require both persons to check in with each other along the way and to make sure each new step is okay. It’s also okay for someone to change his or her mind and not want to continue a certain form of sexual activity.
- Consent is aware. A person can’t consent to sex when she or he is incapacitated, such as being drunk, under the influence of drugs, sleeping, or affected by a physical or mental impairment that makes them unable to decide to consent.
- Silence does not mean, “Yes.’