Our Opinion: ‘Yes means yes’ law still falls short

Apparently, for some individuals, simple words such as “yes” and “no” don’t hold the same meaning they do for everyone else in the world. This is especially true when it comes to rape, and is exactly why California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill into law Sept. 28 that seeks to end the confusion that is sometimes brought into sexual assault cases by the common “no means no” standard and to improve how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations. In light of recent events on our campus, this law should be a bright light in the handling of sexual assault cases, but unfortunately, it’s not yet bright enough.

The new law, which has been dubbed the “Yes means yes” law, requires an “affirmative consent” to be given before any sexual relations and states that consent cannot be given if someone is asleep or incapacitated by drugs or alcohol.

As stated in the law, “lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”

This law, which is actually the first of its kind, is certainly well-intentioned and does a tremendous job legally clarifying instances where consent cannot possibly be given, but it fails to provide any definitive way to prove that an affirmative consent has been given, which will still cause problems for complainants in the courtroom.

Though Yes means yes is most definitely a step forward, true strides unfortunately won’t come until legislation has passed that effectively reduces the number of sexual assaults nationwide.