Besides ‘Yes Means Yes’ law, we need Debra’s Rules of Sexual Order
Finally, progress in rape prevention! On Sept. 28, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 967, geared toward college students, requiring that “affirmative consent” standards be enacted on every campus, including comprehensive prevention and outreach programs that address sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking. Why it’s not aimed at women of all ages, I’m not sure, but it’s a start. I’m not throwing that baby out with that bath water.
The bill defines “affirmative consent” as “affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” and also states: “It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time.”
In other words, the “she didn’t say no” defense is no longer valid. Remember a couple years ago when a UC Davis student got hammered at a downtown Davis bar, took a walk with a new “friend” by the train tracks, and was raped? There were even witnesses who testified she was crying and saying “no.” The guy walked free, however, because the victim willingly got drunk with him and just as willingly took a walk with him. He claimed that initially, she said yes, but when she started pleading “no” he was confused about what that meant.
Sorry, sleazy defense attorneys. You can’t go that route anymore. SB 967 mandates that if a woman says “No,” even if sex is underway, the man must stop. Men everywhere are crying “That’s not fair” and “It’s impossible! Once Mr. Big is unleashed, I cannot control him!” Tough. Make like a car wash, and learn how to do a hand finish.
The new law really addresses situations where the victim is passed out or drugged, and then one or more men go to town on her while she’s unconscious. A slick defense attorney could get rapists like these acquitted with the “she didn’t say no” defense, because not saying “no” used to be the legal equivalent of saying “yes.”
Used to be.
SB 967 clarifies that silence doesn’t mean “yes.” Only “yes” means “yes.” So, a very enthusiastic standing ovation for SB 967. It’s a positive step.
Up to this point in the column, it’s been very serious business. And now, we shall go off into the weeds.
The ink was scarcely dry on the “Yes Means Yes” bill, when a Southern California-based company called Sandton Technologies created the “Good2Go” app to complement it. With this app, one lusty person texts the other on his/her cell phone, and asks, “Are We Good2Go?” The responder can choose from “No, thanks,” “Yes, but… we need to talk” and “I’m Good2Go,” and then, I am “Sober,” “Mildly intoxicated,” “Intoxicated but Good2Go” and “Pretty wasted.” And then the person is asked to “confirm your sobriety level” by pushing “OK.”
Stop rolling your eyes or you won’t be able to keep reading.
Good2Go has another feature: a reminder screen to withdraw consent at any time. Because someone who’s pounding away on you while you’re saying “no” will surely excuse you to go text your withdrawal of consent.
In case you were wondering, yes, humanity has gone insane.
Before you run screaming from the room, do not despair. Apple stepped in and killed that app nine days after it appeared in its App Store. That’s a death blow for an app, and “Good2Go” was as good as gone. The Good2Go website says it’s “currently unavailable.” “Thankfully permanently unavailable” is more like it.
So, possibly the most ridiculous app ever imagined has been wiped away by Apple, which declared the content of Good2Go to be “excessively objectionable or crude.” Apparently Apple can’t play the “simply inane” card or it would have to kill Candy Crush too.
I’m stuck on Level 80. Don’t judge me.
The part of this story that’s still bugging me, however, is that when NBC news reported on Good2Go last week, they said that 20-somethings who tried the app were able to establish that they were “Good2Go” in less than a minute. They also didn’t really find the app particularly cumbersome, given that they’re already used to looking at their cell phones compulsively and this seems normal to them.
Those amongst you who have had sex before: What would happen if you’re in the mood and your partner stops what he’s doing that put you in that mood to go send a text on his cell phone? Do you know how LONG a poorly timed minute can be in the world of passion? It’s the difference between “Oh, baby” and “I have a headache.”
Is there an antonym for “foreplay”? If not, let’s assign one: Good2Go.
If you’re so uncomfortable speaking to a person you’re about to have sex with and have to send a text… YOU SHOULDN’T BE HAVING SEX! Not with him/her, or maybe anyone!
Clearly, we need some sex-readiness rules, and I’m setting them. Step aside, Roberts and Rosenberg. Here are Debra’s Rules of Sexual Order:
~ You can verbally communicate what you want and don’t want.
~ You can give correctional directions, even mid-stream.
~ You can say “penis” or “vagina” without giggling. Or wincing. Ditto for looking at them. If you can’t look at them without squealing like a middle school idiot, you can’t touch them either.
~ You know the proper names of the sexual organs, and (girls, pay attention, you’re the worst offenders) if you can see it, it’s not the vagina. Not unless you’re viewing it through a speculum. What you see is called a vulva. There is a difference. You can’t use the parts until you know their names.
That last one’s a tall order if we’re still struggling with “yes” and “no,” and so, we have SB 967 to clarify things. Thank the loving Goddess, we do NOT have a Good2Go app. Those things together mean: We must learn to communicate like adults before having sex. Which is great. It’s just sad that we had to enact a law to make it so.