Yes means yes. That's the shorthand for the new legislation poised to become law in California.
This new law would require that California college students give active consent to one another before all sexual activity, either by saying "yes" to a spoken question or by signalling agreement in a nonverbal way. Contrary to popular myth, this new law would not require a signed contract between students.
In the wake of this legislation's passage, we've heard the usual objections: It's not the job of universities to micromanage sex. Do I have to ask if everything I do is okay? This is going to ruin the mood.
What these questions and negative reactions signal, in addition to some still ingrained patriarchal assumptions about sex, is our collective discomfort with talking about sex in an affirmative way. When both partners feel comfortable talking about sex, some pretty sexy things can happen. "Can I do this?" "Yes. Yes. Yes."
But when we're uncomfortable talking about sex, lots of unsexy things can happen. Sexual assault chief among them. CDC statistics show that one in five women in the US has been raped. And we know that by the time a woman graduates from college, nearly one in four will be a survivor of rape or attempted rape.