One Big Yes

We currently live in a world where a woman has to carry around a mattress to seek justice in her sexual assault case. Her name is Emma Sulkowicz. This is the same world where a woman's rape can be filmed and passed around on the internet, but the offenders are still allowed to continue their education to completion, only receiving a ban afterward. This woman is Sarah Butters. We live in a world where the media sympathizes with a woman's rapist, where a woman is told she was asking for it, where a woman is called a slut for a crime committed by another. This woman has no name; she is all of us, and we live in a rape culture. Finally, one law seeks to set things back in the right direction – California's “Yes Means Yes.”

Just last week, California adopted the “Yes Means Yes” law which defines sexual consent as the presence of an affirmative yes as opposed to the absence of a no. This guideline will be used in evaluating cases of sexual assault on college campuses. If proof cannot be given of explicit affirmative consent, then the case will be confirmed as an assault and the offender charged.

One would like to have thought that it was common sense for the presence of confirmed consent, but look no further than any college seminar to know just how wrong that is. The majority of college students, men and women alike, are confused about where the line between consent and sexual assault lies. People don't know how to define rape, so they call it a gray area and disregard the circumstances. That's why this “Yes Means Yes” law is so revolutionary. The law finally provides a given guideline for defining sexual assault. It has transformed cases of sexual assault from murky gray areas into stark yes-or-no situations.

The law, of course, stretches beyond protecting just women. Homosexual rape is a big issue, and the “Yes Means Yes” law will also apply to the evaluation of those cases. In addition, though cases of female-on-male rape are incredibly infrequent as compared to male-on-female rape, the same standard of evaluation can help male victims as well.

The law should rapidly improve the handling of cases of sexual assault in college. Hopefully, with a more rigidly defined standard, offenders will no longer be able to walk away while their victims carry the weight of the offender's crime. There is still a long way to go in the battle against the rape culture we live in, but “Yes Means Yes” is a great first step. They wouldn't listen to our