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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Two Great Pieces on California's New Affirmative Consent Law

A couple days ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law in California establishing "yes means yes" as the standard by which sexual consent must be judged by colleges in California, rather than "no means no". Feminists, and other decent people, too, have been pushing for this sort of change for years, and it is important. Symbolically, it recognizes in the law that women are sexual agents and subjects of desire, not just passive objects of male sexual desire whose only choice point is to say "NO!!"

Here are two excellent articles about the new law:
That last site, Yes Means Yes, is devoted to "affirmative consent", and Thomas has written a ton on this topic. He also wrote a terrific piece, "Towards a Performance Model of Sex", in the Yes Means Yes book that I highly recommend. (The rest of the book is terrific, too.)

The alternative against which he argues is a "commodity" or "transactional" model of sex in which women have something men want; the man's goal is to get the woman to give it to him; and the woman's goal is to make sure she gets something (e.g., emotional connection, a call in the morning, a wedding ring) in return. It's easy enough to see (and Thomas and others spell it out, if you can't see it) how that sort of model reinforces rape culture. It's also easy to see how deeply the commodity model is embedded in American attitudes about sex. See here and here for connections to "purity pledges", and of course Jessica Valenti's book The Purity Myth.

But maybe the coolest thing on this topic is this video by Canadian sex educator Karen C. B. Chan, which compares sex to a jam session.

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