Let's Talk About Sex
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Politics and Activism

Let's Talk About Sex

In a culture where "no" is increasingly being heard as "yes," it's time for a change.

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Let's Talk About Sex

“We had sex.”

Megan’s dark brown eyes were clouded with confusion and guilt, her shoulders slouched and her legs crossed. Her tone conveyed this statement as a question, as though she had not yet fully realized what she had just confessed.

“Oh my God, you did?” I said incredulously. I paused, stunned. “Wait, are you okay?”

Megan is a virgin. At least she was a virgin, and she was planning on staying one until marriage.

“Yeah. Well, I mean I think so.” She let out a one-syllable laugh — a short, unhumorous, high pitched sigh. “I don’t know.”

My heart broke. “What happened?”

“Well, we were both really drunk, and I don’t know, it just happened.” Her voice inflection still conveyed this as a question.

“Well, did you want to?” I asked softly.

She paused for a split second, her mouth turned downward almost imperceptibly, and her dark eyes bore into mine. This time she spoke with resolution.

“No.”

Although “No means no” has been reiterated to the American youth throughout their education, this type of story is all too common on college campuses. For a variety of reasons, “saying no” is often easier in theory than in reality. Sometimes girls (or guys) have no problem with this. They are confident whether from previous experience or because of their personality in general; however, there are many that lack the confidence to speak up when they are not explicitly given the chance.

This is one of the reasons that California recently passed legislation, nicknamed “Yes Means Yes,” which legally requires that both parties in a sexual encounter give “affirmative consent” to the acts, and requires schools that receive government funding to change how they respond to reported sexual assault, according to Senate Bill No. 967 of California Law. By requiring that the question of consent be asked, this moves the burden of consent (in many cases) onto the man, instead of the woman. Although it seems like a good idea, this hotly debated legislature was sanctioned for having too many legal technicalities accompanying it.

For instance, the law requires that at every step of the encounter, the involved must receive consent. This leads some to believe that the people would have to stop every five seconds and ask, “Do I have consent?” Some also say that being forced to ask something is an infringement on freedom of speech, and still others say that this doesn’t solve the he-said she-said problem that will forever accompany rape cases.

Despite the technical legalities that accompany the implementation of such a personal law, the moral and social standards that it attempts to uphold and enforce have long been lacking.

Some cry for more education on “No means no”; however, I assure you that throughout my time in the public school system, I have heard this phrase and been explained it, countless times. What I have failed to hear is the empowerment of girls in their sexuality and with regards to their bodies, making some feel like they are lacking control.

When not given the chance to say no, many people don’t know how to handle the situation. They may feel pressured or unsure, and not know how to say no. By making people affirm that they want to have sexual contact, both parties have a clear communication of what they desire, and there is no room for doubt. 

It's time for people to realize the disconnect between what seems like it should work (No means no) and what actually ends up happening, and to adapt to this change so there are less Megan hurting in this world.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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