Today’s post was written by Tatsumi Romano, a member of our National Youth Advisory Board.
Chances are you’ve heard about the “yes means yes” bill, passed in California on Thursday, August 28th. The bill “helps to create a shared responsibility, instead of the responsibility falling on women to say ‘no’,” said Tracey Vitchers of Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER). Becoming the first state to adopt the bill, California is redefining what consent means. As opposed to the belief that remaining silent or not resisting sexual advances indicates consent, the Golden State is taking it a step further. The model “requires the presence of a ‘yes’ rather than the absence of a ‘no’…” as Jessica Valenti of The Guardian states in her article, “Beyond ‘no means no’: the future of campus rape prevention is ‘yes means yes’”.
There’s been a lot of talk and controversy, as expected, but something else is also going on. Women and feminists are getting their voices heard, as noted above with Tracey. Tracey said that the bill prevents the responsibility from falling on women when it comes to saying no…but what about men? What about children and adolescents? Domestic violence and sexual assault often hold a stigma of a man victimizing a woman, when that’s not always the case. A shocking 2.78 million men in the United States have been victims of sexual assault or rape. In terms of children and adolescents, 44% of sexual assault and rape victims are under the age of 18, with girls between 16 and 19 at four times more likely than the general population to be victims of rape, attempted rape, or sexual assault. It’s important to realize that there’s no gender or category of people that violence or sexual assault is geared to; it can happen to anyone of any gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, or national or ethnic origin.
It’s imperative that everyone has access to resources, such as loveisrespect, to ask questions and seek help. Take a look at the “What is Consent?” page or visit the “Is This Abuse?” section of our website to get your questions answered and receive more information about whether you’re in a healthy situation.
Remember, you can always call, chat, or text with one of our peer advocates any time!
1. National Institute of Justice & Centers for Disease Control & Prevention. Prevalence, Incidence and Consequences of Violence Against Women Survey. 1998.
2. U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Sex Offenses and Offenders. 1997.