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Saturday, June 22
The Indiana Daily Student


Yes means yes

Yes means yes.

These three words, small but mighty, are the backbone for the new sexual assault prevention program unveiled at the University of California-Berkeley.

Berkeley is changing the way they frame conversations about sexual assault for new students at their freshman orientation.

Conversations about sexual assualt are often framed around rejection-based ?encounters.

Rejection-based encounters are when one party is interested in advancing the experience and the other rejects his or her advances.

Berkeley staff members are seeking to change the conversation into one of mutual engagement that operates on a basic assumption of equality.

“Yes means yes” describes a mentality in which both parties involved in intimacy of any sort do not continue to the next level until both express an explicit desire to proceed.

What’s truly revolutionary about this approach is that it actually casts sex in a positive light.

Everyone, from sexual assault awareness advocates, the media, Rihanna, you name it, either implies or explicitly states that sex is about domination.

One person advances on another person until he or she either says “stop” or doesn’t.

Rather than toeing that line, “yes means yes” encourages both people to agree to move forward.

They mutally agree to proceed together for a healthy experience or cease the activities at whatever point that “yes” is absent.

Of course, I am not asserting that sexual assaults occur simply because the couple failed to clearly communicate, and neither is Berkeley.

In fact, California is on the brink of becoming the first state to make affirmative consent its law by passing a new piece of legislation entitled Senate Bill 967.

SB 967 would write the definition of consent into the California state ?constitution.

It will help condemn those who violate the rules of consent and further defend victims of assault.

It would specifically require schools “whose students receive financial aid to uphold an affirmative consent standard in disciplinary hearings and to educate students about the standard,” according to CNN.

California’s initiative is the prime example of actions speaking far more loudly than words when it comes to effecting meaningful and lasting change.

Unlike President Obama’s new “It’s On Us” campaign, Berkeley’s affirmative consent policy changes the conversation to erase dominant-submissive gender dynamics and make intimacy about equality and ?communication.

We cannot stop here.

In order to fully reverse the nation’s psychology when it comes to sex and sexual assault, “yes means yes” and other consent awareness programs must be taught in schools’ sex education courses.

Students cannot receive a comprehensive sex education if they are not taught how to protect themselves and others alongside reproductive anatomy and ?biology.

Obama, take a page out of California’s book.

It’s on us to understand that yes means yes.

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