Only Yes Means Yes in California

By , 17, Staff Writer
September 26, 2014

When it comes to rape on college campuses, schools and the law usually portray both parties as guilty instead of only the person who committed the rape. This is because in most states the standard is “no means no.” If a “no” isn’t given, a “yes” can be assumed. With this line of thinking, unless resistance is shown or an explicit “no” is said, everything else can be considered a “yes.” But what if the attacker prevented the person being attacked from speaking by covering her mouth or pushing her face into something that would make her unable to speak? Under these circumstances, the victim would have wanted to say “no” but was unable to.

California recently voted and passed Senate Bill 967, most commonly called the “yes means yes” bill. Under this new law unless an implicit “yes” is given, the sex is not consensual. This takes away any guess work or gray areas on whether silence is consent because unless a “yes” is uttered, it’s rape and therefore a crime.

This law is so exciting because it’s a step in the right direction. I am so glad that at least now in California a victim doesn’t have to feel attacked twice. Laws in other states treat victims like they committed a crime. The police question them over and over. Victims are asked if they are sure they said no, or if they really didn’t want it why didn’t they say, “No.” Victims are questioned even in cases where the victim was unable to say no because he or she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, for example. When cops ask these types of questions, it makes victims feel like the rape or sexual assault was their fault because they didn’t say the word, “No.” This kind of victim-blaming can be a major reason a rape may go unreported. But with California’s new “yes means yes” law all that matters is whether or not the victim gave an explicit “yes.” I hope more states do this, because this change is long overdue.

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