College students are back on campus, and many are already testing out slick new lines designed to get cute classmates into bed:
Is this alright? … Should I continue? … How about now?
I know. Super hot, right?
Colleges across America are introducing students to new rules about what constitutes sexual consent. This past year, California and New York passed laws requiring state universities to put “affirmative consent” policies into place. Several other states are considering the laws, and many campuses have adopted the guidelines on their own.
A reaction to reports of rampant sexual misconduct on U.S. campuses — where one in five women has been a victim of assault — affirmative-consent policies require both parties (or even all three parties if I remember college correctly) to give “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” through every step of an intimate encounter.
How’s this? … Feel good? … Keep going?
The idea of these “yes means yes” policies is to remove ambiguity from sexual situations while also removing some of the burden from assault victims — who previously had to prove they said “no.” This oughta clear things up, too, for those neanderthugs who thought too-drunk-to-say-no was a sure thing.
There are, however, some reasonable criticisms being lobbed at the policies: that they’re unenforceable, that they invite the government between our sheets, and that they put an unfair burden on the accused in assault cases — who now have to swear they saw a head nod or heard a distinct-if-breathy “oh, yeahhh.”
And then there’s one giant, stupid argument being made against it — and being made a lot: that affirmative-consent policies will suddenly make sex “unsexy.”
That’s right. We’re talking squelched mojo, people. And with libido already being such an endangered species in the college habitat, well, this is serious.
I guess sexy is in the gonads of the beholder, because most women I know will tell you there’s no greater turnoff than a naked person putting something where you don’t want it, exactly when you don’t want it there.
If you need ambiguous consent to sustain your schwing, you’re doing something terribly, terribly wrong. Perhaps porn is to blame: No one ever asks permission in a professionally lit, meticulously waxed back-alley gang bang, do they? (Is there affirmative-consent porn yet? Somebody get on that, please.)
Raise your hand if you’ve ever made a daft decision while disrobed. …Okay, good, that makes all of us. I fail to see how injecting just a skosh of sensible communication into the mix could have made matters worse — can you?
Sure, affirmative consent is awkward; it’s bound to make your hookups smack of Simon Says. But does anyone remember what a carnal buzzkill condoms were back when they began, you know, preventing the deadly spread of AIDS? Against all odds, safe sex made responsibility hot. And I can see verbal check-ins — which don’t even involve navigating factory-sealed packaging in the dark — doing that one better.
Do you like this? … How about here? … Do you want more?
“It’s really not a mood killer when a guy asks if I’m comfortable with something,” says a UCLA junior I asked. “I actually find it really attractive, and a lot of my friends feel the same way. It’s not that awkward. A guy showing concern for my feelings isn’t a turnoff — it’s a turn-on.”
Meet the new “sexy,” my friends. It’s the guy in the front row of your feminist studies class sporting the #consentconscious bro tank. And getting all the “yes” he can handle.
Starshine Roshell is the author of Broad Assumptions.