Cathy Young on the Vague, Problematic Rules of 'Affirmative Consent'


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Efforts to legislate "affirmative consent" as the standard for college disciplinary proceedings on sexual assault continue to advance. The California bill requiring colleges and universities to adopt such a standard to qualify for state student aid, S.B. 967, was overwhelmingly approved by the State Assembly's Committee on Higher Education on June 24. Now, similar measures may be coming on a federal level. What is affirmative consent, exactly? Cathy Young says that the arguments of its proponents boil down to this: rules so murky that even its advocates aren't sure exactly what it means or how it will work, and which allows virtually any sexual encounter to be reclassified as a violation after the fact, is not a problem because people can be trusted not to abuse it. What could possibly go wrong?