My son started high school this year, which means we are in the beginning stages of considering colleges. As I was browsing through some information on a search engine one evening, I was reminded at how convoluted California higher education has become when I came across Governor Jerry Brown’s “affirmative consent”. We also call this the “yes means yes” law.
An affirmative consent standard in the determination of whether consent was given by both parties to sexual activity. “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. 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. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.
Ugh. You got all that?
Talk about the death of romance.
There are many arguments for the pros and cons of this law but the discussion falls woefully short of the real problem – and that is the mainstreaming of the “hook up” culture and the death of courting.
In the Baby Boomer generation, the message was “free love”. With the rise of HIV/AIDS and other STDs in the 1980s and 90s the message became “safe love”. As long as you were protecting yourself the consequences would be negligible.
In the 2000s the message morphed into “shame-free love” – whatever choices we make with our sexuality should be free of any kind of judgment from others. Even pointing out the health risks of sexual promiscuity was and is considered narrow-minded to many people.
Where in the ’60s women were burning their bras as a symbol of throwing off the shackles of traditional gender roles, in the 2000s women began equating sexuality with empowerment. If men can sleep around without shame or consequences, why can’t women? If men can be casual about sex, why can’t women? Suddenly the idea of an empowered woman became the picture of a woman able to use her sexuality in the same way men do.
Women are emotional nurturers.
We are receivers. Men are physically stimulated. They are givers. Women are exponentially more likely to attach emotional values to sex. Which is exactly why we have an innate need to be pursued. The “casual sex for all” message serves to perpetuate the idea for young women that if we can’t engage in casual relations we’re doing something wrong – we aren’t “empowered”.
My mother-in-law always says, “A man needs to hunt.” Of course she doesn’t mean this literally but in relationships, when a woman takes on that job of “hunter”, the balance shifts. Once that balance shifts everything else falls out of order too.
While men used to be expected to wait for sex, women are now expected to provide sex up front before a relationship can go further. No more hunting for the men. These days they’re more likely to be like captive zoo animals. Their survival skills have been dulled as they lazily wait to be fed by young women who have sold the message that sex is only a physical act.
The hook-up culture only leads to confusion on many levels. The confusion has a ripple effect that reverberates throughout our entire society. Suddenly so many mixed messages are flying around we need to create laws and contracts to clarify intimacy. Those mixed messages end up leading to less freedom, not more.
No longer are men and women free to fulfill their natural gender roles, or delight in the unique relationship each individual has to those roles. Now we are expected to deny those roles. Free love, safe love, shame-free love have led to no love – just sex. Just sex has led to a culture that now has an embedded disrespect for what is meant to be an edifying act. That embedded disrespect has now led to the need for actual laws to be put in place it “protect” those engaging in sexual activity.
It used to be sex wasn’t an automatic expectation between dating partners. There was no need for “consent laws” because consent was marriage, or at least an engagement. Respect – for oneself and the inexplicable natures of men and women – was all the protection that was needed.
Funny how all this “free sex” has led to nothing but more laws and more government intrusion.
My notions of sex, love and marriage may seem quite antiquated in today’s America but at least my husband and I don’t need a phone app or a written contract every time we want to make love. We are free to enjoy all the benefits of sexual relations without the stresses of STD’s, unwanted pregnancies or future rape allegations.
Sounds like true sexual freedom to me. And we didn’t even need a lawyer.