Dangerous “Affirmative Consent” Advocacy Rears its Head Again in Higher Education
March 28, 2014
In the 1990s, a group of Feminist students at Antioch College who called themselves Womyn of Antioch threatened violent action if the school failed to adopt their affirmative consent model in adjudicating accusations of sexual assault. This was chronicled in the academic compilation Rape on Campus, which I have read and preserved a picture of that particular passage.
Antioch College was the first to openly adopt such a policy, which created a firestorm of publicity. The school closed in 2008, but reopened three years later. It was assumed that while its doors were closed the debate over affirmative consent would die with it.
Such is not the case.
The “affirmative consent” model is an expanded definition of sexual assault which is supported by absolutely zero state definitions of the crime in the United States, if indeed anywhere in the world. Under this model, if a woman does not verbally say “yes” to each individual escalation of sexual activity, the man is guilty of sexual assault. If a woman instead nods her head, winks her eye, pulls her partner toward her, and hums a “yes” but doesn’t actually verbally say “yes,” the man is guilty.
This policy fails on its face. We might do well to remember the phrase “actions speak louder than words.” And in sexual and romantic matters they often do. Body language is indeed a form of communication (otherwise it wouldn’t be called body language), and neither men nor women desire to make each hug, kiss, caress, and so forth an act of congress. And that is exactly what this policy would require.
In addition, if there was any shred of due process left to male students on campus, the affirmative consent model would negate it. Remember that under such a policy not only would a male student have to prove that his partner said yes (how?), but under Department of Education guidelines the school administration only needs to be 50.01% “certain” that she didn’t say yes. The burden of proof has fallen through the floor while the definition of the crime is ballooning to proportions well worthy of satire. Neither of those bode well for the wrongly accused.
As I said earlier, affirmative consent advocacy has resurfaced. In 2012 Sarah Lubrano, writing for The Harvard Crimson, urged students to join those petitioning the administration (herself being among them) to adopt the model. Her advocacy was attended by the declaration that “several other Ivy League schools have already adopted affirmative consent as their standard.”
This also jives with my perspective that the higher up you go in academia the greater the degree of anti-male bias.
California is currently debating Senate Bill 967, which seeks to require all higher education institutions in California to use the affirmative consent standard. And as the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Stop Abusive and Violent Environments (SAVE) have noted, advocates at Department of Education sessions concerning policy reform have attempted to draft new federal requirements to impose the affirmative consent model on every public school in the land.
As you will notice if you read the section on the Antioch policy in Rape on Campus, an occasional Feminist defense of affirmative consent is to say “what’s wrong with more communication during sex? Isn’t that a good thing?”
As if that is their real position. Nothing is wrong with communication. But labeling men guilty of sexual assault and wrecking their lives over a mere “lack of communication” when consent is nonetheless present is a horrible miscarriage of justice.
Another standard defense among Feminists is the cliche “silence is not consent.” That is true; silence is not in and of itself consent. But silence is not in and of itself nonconsent, either. Again, actions speak louder than words. You’ll also hear the cliche “only yes means yes.” That’s true. But again, yes is said in many different ways.
The attitude of Feminists down through the ages in regards to due process can best be described as bloodthirsty, if not barbaric (see here and here for examples). They presume guilt of the person accused in the vast majority of cases. They expand the definition of rape beyond all reason. They defend false rape accusations by either rationalizing them or dismissing them as insignificant. And they sometimes make false rape accusations themselves to gain political leverage.
When people try to organize to talk about how hateful they are behaving, Feminists tear down their posters, create barricades in front of buildings so they can’t meet, attempt to de-ratify any organizations that oppose them, and generally do everything they can to oppose the human rights of freedom of speech and association for those who simply object to men being hated (see here).
They do not care about the harm they inflict upon innocent men by falsely branding them “rapists” and destroying their lives. They do not care that their expanded definitions of rape trivialize the experiences of real victims of sexual assault.
Why don’t they care? It’s time to start being real about this, so let’s have a real answer. It’s not because they are politically “correct.” It’s not because they are “misguided.” And it’s definitely not because they have anything to do with being progressive in the genuine sense of the word.