'Yes Means Yes': How the New Rule May Impact Rape Convictions
In case you haven’t yet heard, the state of California recently adopted a “Yes Means Yes” law. The law is supposed to counteract the allegedly frivolous rape accusations as some women abuse the present “No Means No” policy. While presumably well-intentioned, this new policy helps set a precedent for what most can only assume will be a plethora of complex suits and cases in relation to this already sticky (pun unintended) subject.
The Rule Itself…
Perhaps a bit ambitious, the new rule is designed in an attempt to define precisely what does and does not constitute consensual sex. On the one hand, given the fact that these cases typically boil down to the testimony of the only two parties present, this is clearly something that needs to be addressed. However, no matter how clearly these guidelines are defined, it will still likely boil down to the testimony of said parties. Thus, the law merely adds an additional element by which the male can defend himself against a rape allegation.
Is That a Bad Thing?
Absolutely not! Of course, men should be allowed to defend themselves against frivolous allegations, in the most efficient manner possible. However, we have entered murky waters. While this new policy does point out that someone who is drugged or under the influence cannot possibly give consent, it also states that consent can be nonverbal, which is baffling to say the least.
“Lawmakers say consent can be nonverbal, and universities with similar policies have outlined examples as a nod of the head or moving in closer to the person.” ~ABC News
Though such cues are sometimes the case, this opens up a massive gray area that leaves a young, horny, often inebriated young male in a position to determine what various non-verbal cues mean. The rule is geared towards college campuses…and yes, I know, not all college males fit the profile. In addition, the law allows males to act on the perception of said cues. Given the fact that verbal “consent” has remained an issue for centuries, one can only imagine what these trials will entail once the specifics of nonverbal cues are introduced. Will women be asked if they smiled with their eyes, or leaned in too close to a man so as to give the “wrong impression?” Looks like it…
The Bottom Line…
Though apparently a step in a direction that will create a dialog around this topic, it seems the law has done little more than complicate an already complicated issue. Nonverbal cues are indeed a reliable source for many things; nevertheless, in the case of sexual assault, the last thing we need is another method for sexual predators to assert, “She wanted it.”