Welcome To The Bitchery

This morning, NPR has the article "A Campus Dilemma: Sure, 'No' Means 'No,' But Exactly What Means 'Yes'?" about the problems colleges face in trying to define exactly what counts as consent. One of the things it discussed was the move away from 'no means no' toward 'yes means yes'. I hadn't heard that before. The problem still is of defining what exactly is yes. They include examples of what is included in the Yale handbook as examples of non-consent.

In one example, "Tyler and Jordan are both drinking heavily. ... Tyler becomes extremely drunk. Jordan offers to take Tyler home ... [and] ... initiates sexual activity. ... Tyler looks confused and tries to go to sleep. Jordan has sex with Tyler."

Yale prints the answer in italics: "There was no consent to have sex. ... The penalty would be expulsion."



But other examples are trickier. One describes two friends, Morgan and Kai, who are engaging in sexual activity in Kai's room. Morgan "looks up at Kai questioningly" before escalating the activity and "Kai nods in agreement" so Morgan proceeds. But when Kai reciprocates, "Morgan lies still for a few minutes, then moves away, saying it is late and they should sleep."

On that one, Yale says that Kai wrongly assumed that it was OK to reciprocate "but took no steps to obtain unambiguous agreement. The ... penalty would likely be a reprimand."

Other examples include Antioch college and its mandate that students get explicit permission for all sexual advances; "is it okay if I kiss you?", "is it okay if I touch you here?", etc. They do include the caveat that you can also do a verbal agreement of a prearranged hand signal. But you can't always see hands in the dark.

The article ends with "Batista says colleges are not the only ones who have to do more to help young people understand the meaning of consent. In order for students to really get it, he says, the lesson needs to start long before students even get to college."


I think it is interesting the approaches being taken, from the "ask every time" style at Antioch to Yale filling up page after page of scenarios trying to give as many examples as they can of what is and isn't consent.

I can see the reasoning behind the Antioch approach. But I can see it reaching a point of annoyance too, "I told you that you could touch my left boob, you don't need to ask before touching the right one!".


What do you think of these approaches? Any others you'd like to see colleges try? Am I the only to have not heard of the 'yes means yes' movement?

There was also a part in there who should handle the sexual assault cases, but I felt this was already getting a little long.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter