Like kale chips before it, California is leading the way to the new world order of consent. Oh sure, the “Yes means Yes” in college signed into law, but what are the chances that it will fundamentally alter life at the rocket propulsion lab at Cal Tech, right? Sheldon? Well, anyway.
While attention is devoted elsewhere, the California experience is proving to be difficult. It seems that many, women included, are finding affirmative consent unnatural. While rational people would recognize this failing to be the direct result of human nature and rational thinking, activists see it as both a failure to teach males affirmative consent early enough in life, and extend it beyond the confines of mere sexual relations.
In other words, they want affirmative consent to be a way of life.
Students “get to universities and we expect them to behave like they’re supposed to without any prior understanding of what consent looks like,” Meghan Warner, director of the Associated Students of the University of California Sexual Assault Commission and a UC Berkeley student who endorsed the demands, told The Huffington Post.
“Consent is not just for intercourse. It’s for all aspects of our lives, and people aren’t understanding or being taught that,” Warner said. Consent education also covers verbal harassment, healthy relationships — romantic or otherwise — and being aware of people’s space.
The new slogan? “Consent: Not just for intercourse anymore.” Then again, the likelihood of “May I verbally harass you?” catching on is slim, but that’s not likely going to trouble activists.
“Concerned parents might think we’re talking about consent in purely sexual context, when really we’re talking on a day-to-day basis,” Alejandra Melgoza, a Take Back the Night coordinator at UC Santa Barbara, told HuffPost. A major aspect of consent education is as simple as “keep your hands to yourself,” she said.
Parents have long admonished their children to “keep your hands to yourself,” usually with regard to hitting another child. So what’s new about this?
“We have to start from very simple things, and that’s how we get to big things,” Melgoza said. For example, Melgoza said, traumatic memories of child abuse may be triggered by an unsolicited hug, so students could be taught to greet others appropriately and “acknowledge people’s space.”
Ah, the old trigger of traumatic memories of child abuse issue. Clearly, an issue so pervasive that a law is needed to protect the survivors. Clearly, this epidemic of trigger touching in the ordinary course of life demands the two-fold cure of introducing feminist education from K-12 forward, because by college it’s too late to stem the tide of the patriarchy, and that affirmative consent laws need to extend beyond sex to all aspects of a “healthy” life. Clearly.
Will this be the new definition of “assault,” to fail to obtain permission from whoever’s space is invaded by whatever anyone else does? Thinking of a New York City subway, it makes stop and frisk look like a walk in the park rather than a ride on the IRT for cops looking to max out their overtime.
While many view the “yes means yes” push as just another ridiculous California notion promoted by a small cadre of pointy-headed progressives who seek to recreate human interaction according to their terms, the fact that it has found its way into law, even if limited to colleges, is a clue that it has gone far beyond another Governor Moonbeam joke.
It is, without question, spreading (note Governor Andrew Cuomo’s imposition for NYS schools), both in its sexual misconduct form and its permutations as applied to broader conduct. While it may be somewhat distant when applied only to college students in crunchy California, it won’t be when it comes to a kindergarten near you, or you inadvertently find yourself too close to someone who starts screaming at you that you raped her space.
Crazy as all this sounds, the slippery slope is already in evidence at the hands of the UC Sexual Assault Commission, and the argument in favor is sadly quite straightforward: if people are to “understand” consent culture when it comes to stopping the epidemic of rape, then it must become a part of all aspects of their lives, and taught to them from childhood. Are you prepared to be called a “rape apologist” for disputing or challenging this? I didn’t think so.
Of course, if this extended as far as a police officer being required to inquire, “may I shoot you,” before pumping a magazine’s worth of bullets into a human body (talk about invading someone’s space), maybe there would be a counterbalance to the insanity these ideas would place on ordinary human relations. That, however, is unlikely to be included within the realm of consent culture, leaving us with the worst of all possible worlds.
For those inclined to be “understanding” of the concern, and feeling as if there ought to be some sort of vague middle ground where aspects of human interaction could be regulated via affirmative consent, while the ridiculous applications would somehow be avoided because, well, “that’s just ridiculous,” bear in mind that more laws, more criminal prohibitions and sanctions, more regulations, all require lines to be drawn between lawful and unlawful conduct.
So where would you draw the line? How would it be stated so that only bad conduct is prohibited before it reaches whatever point of ridiculousness strikes you as beyond the pale? Perhaps when we consider that the foundation for affirmative consent even in sexual relations is built upon the fallacy of a rape epidemic that exists only in the new definition that rape is whatever a person decides it is, whenever she decides it is, this effort at social engineering at the end of a stick might not be quite so understandable.
H/T Hans Bader