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High school students can't figure out 'yes means yes' sex consent policy

High school students being taught the new "yes means yes" consent policies are asking better questions than the people who wrote the law.

The law, which requires students to view sex as a legal contract rather than a passionate or loving act, is so confusing and unworkable that high school students in San Francisco couldn't figure out how to make it work.

"What does that mean – you have to say 'yes' every 10 minutes?" asked one student.

The woman responsible for teaching these students, Shafia Zaloom, responded: "Pretty much," adding, "It's not a timing thing, but whoever initiates things to another level has to ask."

Zaloom is a health educator, but she also has written lesson plans for "yes means yes" programs that are being used throughout the country. For someone who should be so well versed in "yes means yes", that was a pretty shaky answer. If her understanding of the policy is unclear, how are students supposed to figure it out in the heat of the moment?

Zaloom told the students that "sex is not always super smooth" and that "It can be awkward, and that's actually normal and shows things are O.K."

Well, actually, under a "yes means yes" policy (sometimes referred to as "affirmative consent"), there is no room for awkwardness or unsmoothness. If students don't follow the policy to the letter at every second (meaning the entire encounter is run like a question-and-answer session) they risk being labeled a rapist. And since sex doesn't happen like this, every sexual encounter is labeled rape by default.

When Zaloom asked the students to come up with ways to ask for affirmative consent (the policy supposedly allows room for nonverbal communication to confirm consent, but since that could be seen as ambiguous, it can't be counted on), they struggled.

"They crossed off a list of options: 'Can I touch you there?' Too clinical. 'Do you want to do this?' Too tentative. 'Do you like that?' Not direct enough," the New York Times reported.

One girl said: "They're all really awkward and bizarre."

One boy suggested saying: "You good?" The students seemed to like that.

Sorry, dear boy, but those words won't help you in an accusation. Because the fact of the matter is that under "yes means yes" policies and the current campus hysteria, accused students have to prove they obtained consent. And outside a videotape, as one judge in Tennessee noted, there is no way to prove consent. Especially in a he said/she said situation, where colleges and universities are inclined to give more weight to an accusers story due to federal pressure.

And beyond all that, "yes" might not mean "yes." If the boy who suggested "you good?" asked that to a girl and she said "yes," she could always later claim that she did so due to alcohol or fear, and without video proof that refutes the claim, the boy is done for.

The top-rated comment on the Times piece, as noted by Ann Althouse, perfectly sums up the problems with "yes means yes" policies.

"The yes-means-yes standard turns almost all of us into rapists," the commenter wrote. "We have let the radicals hijack this issue, with disastrous results for innocent young people."

Other commenters suggest "yes means yes" policies are not difficult, as people should be communicating through sex anyway. Talking during sex isn't for everyone, and it shouldn't be considered rape just because no one said a word. Nonverbal communication is just as valid as verbal, but because "yes means yes" policies consider it too ambiguous, it's either outlawed or strongly discouraged.

In essence, "yes means yes" policies have been developed to regulate sexual encounters — the most intimate of all human experiences. If you don't have sex the way the government tells you to, you're a rapist. And the government-approved sex manual provides a very narrow set of instructions for what isn't rape. Basically, everything is rape now.

Leave it to the government to take all the joy out of sex.

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