The difference between ‘no means no’ and Affirmative Consent


California and Colorado have affirmative consent laws (the only two I’m aware of). Other states are presenting similar bills. What is the difference between “no means no” and affirmative consent?

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“No means no” isn’t a law, it’s just a concept. If someone tells you “no” then you take it as as a firm “no.” You don’t treat it as “maybe” or that they want to do it but just need convincing.

“Affirmative consent” means unless they have explicitly consented to the act then you don’t have consent.

If I ask you if you would like some soup, you could say yes, no, or something noncommittal. If you say no, then it’s clear that you don’t want the soup I’m offering. If you say yes, then it becomes clear that you want the soup. The last situation, the one where you don’t make it clear whether you want the soup or not, is what the Affirmative Consent option is trying to address. Under the Affirmative Consent idea, when I ask if you want soup, no means no AND a noncommittal means no too. The only time I should give you soup is when you say yes. Affirmative Consent is also sometimes known as “yes means yes”. Hope this helps!

I’ve never really understood the usefulness of these laws, in concept the idea is solid. When you sign a contract you are giving affirmative consent, a company can’t take money out of your bank account just because they asked you and you didn’t say no, they have to have proof that you said yes. But in terms of actual usefulness it relies on the contract, which we don’t have in sex. A person can just as easily say ‘she/he said yes’ as they can say ‘she/he didn’t say no’, and it’s still the same problem of one word against another, with no witnesses.

No is no and consent is Yes. There are no similarities between them and are essentially polar opposites to each other.

No means no – the idea that if someone says “no”, you should take that as final and not as “they need convincing let’s keep trying and pushing”.

Affirmative Consent – the idea that ONLY “yes” means yes. If they say “maybe”, or “I guess”, you don’t have consent. Even if they don’t say anything, they aren’t “letting it happen”, they are not consenting with a definite “yes” therefore you don’t have consent.

This is fairly straightforward, affirmative consent means that you define consent not as a lack of refusal signaling acceptance, but as a positive indication to your consent. In other words, say someone comes up and kisses you, even though you didn’t refuse an any real way, affirmative consent means that you don’t have to prove you made some indication you didn’t want that kiss – it is up to the other person to prove that they did gain consent.

You see this in medical ethics, one of the things that TV shows consistently get wrong in medical dramas is that doctors are rarely seen getting affirmative consent to treat patients. If you actually show up to a hospital to seek treatment, you will notice that almost every healthcare worker you run into will first ask for your consent to do whatever you need them to do. No, showing up to the ER and checking in is not affirmative consent. A doctor can’t just start doing things to you assuming consent, and consent isn’t indicated by a lack of refusal. Consent is indicated by a patient who actually says “Yes, you may examine me.”

If you think about it, affirmative consent makes the most sense, it is assuming consent is not granted unless it is explicitly said so or indicated.

Affirmative consent means that the word “yes” or an equivalent for it is involved, so there is no ambiguity whatsoever that everyone is consenting.

Some years ago, I read an article about two students, one male and one female, at a Christian college who got together for a movie night. They were lying on the couch in a spooning-like position, and the man started to fondle the woman (he touched her boob). When she did not protest, he felt a little more for some time. The activity did not proceed passed touching.

The next day, the woman reported to the Dean that the man had sexually assaulted her. The man stated that he thought her lack of protest meant she approved. The woman said that she was so bewildered that she froze and was afraid to say anything lest the man become violent.

Affirmative consent means that the man ought to have asked first and confirmed that she approved of being touched.

If you’re curious, in the example I shared, the man actually agreed that his behavior was inappropriate *because* it was his opinion that her failure to stop him did not necessarily mean that she appreciated it.

Yes means Yes and No means No in both cases. In affirmative consent, anything that isn’t Yes or No means No. In “No means No”, anything that isn’t a Yes or No is not explicitly defined.

Pretty good explanations so far, but remember gents US court system also confirmed that the “yes” doesn’t really mean yes. After the fact that yes can be switched to “no” and you’re gonna end up a sexual offender.

Did you read the opinion? That’s where precedent is set not the specific facts of the case. It’s the interpretation and application of law. It’s called withdrawn consent. A litany of cases are readily available for you to review.
Btw, I believe sexual offenders should be castrated or killed so I’m probably a far more hardliner in this area than you assume to be.

After reading this entire thread I have decided to take the following precautions.

I will draft a consent contract for sexual interaction stating that the contract was not signed under duress or threat, I will build a room (this will be the contract room), within which there is a smaller room that locks once the door is closed for a minimum of one hour OR if the door is unlocked from outside using a code(this will be the holding room). The room will be monitored by cameras

When I have obtained verbal consent for sexual interaction I will take my potential partner to the contract room. At which point I will hand them the contract then lock myself in the holding room. Once they sign the contract of consent they can then release me from the smaller room using the code supplied after returning a blood alcohol reading of 0.00 on a breathalyzer installed where the contract is signed. The camera recording of this process will be stored along with the contract and breathalyzer readings.

Now at any point if they feel that they are giving consent under duress or threat, they could simply not sign the consent contract and walk away, I would not be able to leave the holding room for an hour giving them ample time to leave without threat.

Welcome to 2022.