Here are two excellent articles about the new law:
- "Do Not Fear California's New Affirmative Consent Law" (Amanda Marcotte, Slate Double X)
- "California’s Affirmative Consent Law: Beyond The Bullshit" (Thomas Macaulay Millar, Yes Means Yes)
- "What Affirmative Consent Looks Like" (Charlie Glickman) [added, via Good Men Project]
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.