The upshot of the breathless crusade against the alleged epidemic of campus sexual assaults has been the imposition of “affirmative consent” or “yes means yes” laws in New York and California.
Those of us old enough to remember how the uptight Bible-thumping patriarchal conservatives were supposed to play the role of buzz-killing Puritans who wanted to “bring government into the bedroom” now can only marvel at the legalistic Star Chambers that young people must face.
People our age never imagined the once-future spectacle of nervous youths trying to figure out elaborate, multi-stage verbal contracts for sexual intimacy, amid the heat of passion and the cold fear of mistakes that can bring harsh legal consequences, particularly for young men.
Sp the Foundation for Individual Rights In Education sallied forth to interview New York college students about their new sexual consent laws, and found them confused, ill-informed by the educational bureaucracy, and not always taking the new laws seriously.
No one understands how the new legal regime works – in part because, as FIRE points out, the law is vaguely worded on such key issues as what constitutes “sexual contact.”
The most telling criticism of this dopey law is that proof of positive verbal consent during every stage of an intimate encounter is nearly impossible to obtain, especially since partners are meant to establish ongoing consent at every stage of an escalating sexual encounter.
We might be about to learn just how much the new generation loves its selfie sticks.
One of the students half-jokingly talks about obtaining a signed contract from every romantic partner. Frankly, under the logic of “affirmative consent,” that wouldn’t be good enough. People could claim they were pressured into signing the contracts without reading them, perhaps because they were inebriated. “Ongoing” consent would call for a stack of contracts, to be reviewed and signed at key moments as the evening unfolds.
At least there haven’t been calls to get notaries and witnesses involved yet.
Part of liberalism’s pitch to young people is that they should sacrifice virtually every other freedom in exchange for unlimited sexual license, which in turn is presented as the indispensable liberty – the very key to personal authenticity! – that mean-spirited social conservatives want to take away.
The campus-rape frenzy is making that sales-pitch much harder. The Left’s adherence to power-feminist dogma is taking it to some very weird places, and it’s losing the marketing savvy it has historically displayed with college youth. Driving home the ideology that all men are dangerous, and all women are victims, has become more important than the old game of wrapping a libertine glove around the iron hand of collectivism.
Here’s another complication. The left is interested in sexualizing children at young ages, to separate them from their parents’ influence. This strategy has led America from sex-ed mania in grade school — with the old chestnut about how ‘children can’t be prevented from exploring their sexuality, so teaching them about abstinence and marital fidelity is a foolish waste of time’ – to a nascent push for de-stigmatizing outright pedophilia.
But suddenly, once the sexualized kids get to college, they run into this all-sex-is-rape-legalistic-Puritanism.
Having been separated from traditional family mores by preteen sexual culture, they’re separated from each other by the claim that men are predatory rapists.
Of course, the much-desired reunion of male and female must then be arranged, approved, and overseen by a new brigade of Social Justice Warriors, at a reasonable cost of $50 per hour.
At least the young Americans will learn a useful lesson about how government’s incentives and penalties are everywhere, pressing into every nook and cranny of their lives, always with the justification that citizens simply cannot be allowed to manage their own affairs.