10/03/2014 08:57 am ET

Oh Yes Means Yes: The Joy Of Affirmative Consent

Seb Oliver via Getty Images

Most women have been there at least once. Staring at the ceiling, bored, while some dude pumps away. Thinking, but not saying aloud, “Ow, that’s my cervix.” Not bothering to redirect him toward the clitoris. Sort of getting a thrill from the overall encounter, but not getting off. Not even coming close. Faking it. There’s a long history of women — especially young, straight women — having sex that’s consensual but not really much fun. And an equally long history of their male partners walking home the next morning thinking, “Nailed it.”

These droves of sexually dissatisfied young women will be unwitting beneficiaries of a new law passed by the California legislature this week. At first blush, the law isn’t about them: It applies to women who didn’t consent, and who go to their universities with sexual-assault allegations. Thanks to the new statute, rather than ask a rape survivor how forcefully she said no, universities must ask whether both parties had “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” It adds, “Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent.

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