Monday, October 20, 2014

Drum On "Yes Means Yes" (And Some Subsequent Reflections)

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   This is reasonable.
   Personally, I'm unsure about the law, too...
   But it's clear that it is not accurately described by the phrase "'Yes' Means 'Yes'." A more accurate descriptive phrase would be: "No 'Yes' Means 'No.'" I have no Earthly idea why anyone would associate the phrase "'Yes' Means 'Yes" with this law. (Though I have just discovered that 'yes' is one of those words that starts looking wrong if you write it over and over...) Perhaps this is some sneaky attempt to make the law sound "sex positive"--something the law, whatever its other virtues might be, definitely is not...  But I don't know.
   I'm very much interested in anything that will minimize rape and sexual assault, but I'm wary of this law. For one thing, I don't see why there should be special laws about sex at college. For another, I suspect that this legislation has largely been pushed by the neo-PC/SJWs--and that's a decidedly irrational and illiberal bunch. So I worry that there are irrational implications that the rest of us haven't yet noticed. I do think the general admonition to make sure everybody's consenting and having a good time is Very Good Advice Indeed...  But there's just something weird about the state reaching down into the bedroom and demanding that a new contract be approved at every "phase" (as if there really were such things) of sex. Not obviously crazy...but not something we should be unreservedly happy about, either.
   OTOH there's one thing that really does incline me toward the law. There was a massive Reddit thread a few years back in which the OP asked sexual assailants to explain themselves. This is one of the kinds of things that makes Reddit really interesting. There were, of course, a couple of real psychopaths responding...but, by far, the most common kind of response was from guys had been accused of sexual assault and were astonished by the accusation, or who had not been accused, but worried retrospectively that they had unwittingly committed some kind of quasi-assault. There were a striking number of respondents who said that the woman had given them no clear sign that she was not interested. I've also seen accounts by female college students in which they report being too embarrassed or afraid (though: in the absence of any reason to fear violence) or uncomfortable to speak up and say that they don't want sex. If these stories are true, then that is actually the best reason I know of for the law. Women who fail to speak up are violating their obligations to themselves and their partners. If they fail to make it clear that they do not want sex for some bad reason (such as those listed above), then they are the ones at fault. Now...this law shifts their responsibility over onto the guy...and that isn't right. It isn't fair, it infantilizes women, and it's the kind of lunacy we have come to expect from the neo-PC/SJWs...however, it seems to beat the alternative of one person enduring unwanted sex and the other person doing something that resembles (but is not) sexual assault. For ordinary cases of person A changing her mind mid-sex, the moral obligation is on her to make that clear. It is not B's obligation to continually prompt A to make her desires known. And the view that it is B's responsibility is associated with current extreme lefty fads that have it, basically, that women have no responsibility for anything in this vicinity, and men have all of it. (In fact, they are even responsible for things they haven't done...but I digress...) And yet...though unfair, it might be better for males overall in that it gives them an extra incentive to make sure that they aren't participating in sex that the other party doesn't want. I'm not sure it's worth the price--because it sounds as if the law will deem a male guilty of rape if the female changes her mind but fails to indicate that. And that is clearly not rape. So: we can expect at least some non-rapists to be classified as rapists by this law. And that is obviously bad.
   On the other other hand, the idea is probably to make a law that covers both ordinary cases and cases in which the woman is too intoxicated. In a case in which A is too intoxicated to meaningfully consent or withhold consent, then the relevant responsibility does fall to B...though obvious problems arise if, as is usually the case, B is also too intoxicated...  Some are concerned that only the male will be declared to be a rapist under such conditions...and that, too, is clearly wrong.
   Yet, this law might still be worth trying.

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