Margaret Eby
September 29, 2014 12:07 pm

Great news for the women of California happened over the weekend: Governor Jerry Brown signed SB967, a bill that requires college students to practice affirmative consent. It’s known as the “yes means yes” bill because it takes a strong stand on defining sexual misconduct on campus. It’s the first of its kind in the United States, and it sets a strong precedent. The law, which applies to all California schools receiving state funds, requires “affirmative consent” for both people participating in sex.

What does that mean? Well let’s check out the actual text of the bill.

That means that if a woman is passed out, she cannot give consent. That means just because you’ve been on a couple dates and fooled around before, you still need consent. It means that the burden of consent is on both parties. And most importantly, it means that sexual misconduct isn’t defined by one of the parties’ “no” response being disrespected, it’s defined by lack of a “Yes.” Consent can be nonverbal, as it often is in situations when you’re getting hot and heavy, but it must exist.

And what this bill really means is that campus rapes are going to be taken much more seriously. Part of the bill, the AP reports, is that faculty will be trained on how to handle a sexual assault claim, so that victims aren’t treated inappropriately or blamed in the process. It means an overall strengthening in policies preventing and punishing sexual assault. And it means that California’s landmark law could influence other states to follow suit. And that’s good news for everyone.

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