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Calif. 'Yes Means Yes' Bill 'A Welcome Game-Changer,' NYT Op-Ed States

Calif. 'Yes Means Yes' Bill 'A Welcome Game-Changer,' NYT Op-Ed States

September 8, 2014 — "[T]he recent passage of Senate Bill 967 in California is ... a welcome game-changer in understanding and preventing sexual assault," write Gloria Steinem, co-founder of Ms. Magazine and the Women's Media Center, and Michael Kimmel, a sociology and gender studies professor at Stony Brook University, in a New York Times opinion piece.

Steinem and Kimmel write that the bill, which Gov. Jerry Grown (D) is expected to sign, "would make California the first state to embrace what has become known as the 'yes means yes' law, because it alters the standard regarding consent to sexual activity on college campuses."

Specifically, they write that the bill would redefine the "enormous gray area between 'yes' and 'no'" by affirming in statute that "[s]ilence is not consent," but rather the "absence of consent." This is a "completely logical" standard "and fully consistent with adjudicating other crimes," they write.

Steinem and Kimmel acknowledge that the new standard "is bound to raise howls of protest from opponents of women's equality and their right to make decisions about their own bodies." However, they note that the standard has been successfully implemented in Canada and at Antioch College, even though the initial reaction at the college "was overwhelmingly negative" (Kimmel/Steinem, New York Times, 9/4).