No Means No or Yes Means Yes? Shifting Ideas on Sexual Assault

no means no

A 2006 survey done by Tjaden and Thoennes revealed that 1 in 4 women reported a case of sexual assault on campus over the past 20 years. Since then, American college campuses have utilized every expense they can to protect students from unwanted sexual advances. A phrase that used to closely follow public service announcements about sexual assault and rape was “no means no,” referring to the idea that if the victim says no or is too intoxicated to say anything, then the act is a crime. However, current California legislation has redefined and clarified what it means to partake in coitus consensually. The new law that has been passed changes the “no means no” into “yes means yes.” This means to have intercourse consensually, both partners must say a certain, unambiguous “yes.” New legislation such as this causes college campuses nationwide to reexamine how to investigate and ultimately prevent these offenses.

The prime force that prompted this article came from one of my professors who, in class, brought up the topic of sexual assault on college campuses. My professor told our class about how the progression of American society has affected how we deal with issues. In her youth, women were responsible for not inviting sexual assault, whereas today, people understand that these unwanted advances can occur under any circumstance, whether the victim is wearing revealing clothing or covered from head to toe. Yet, today, it is the responsibility of the school to inform all students on these dangers.

She also pointed out how the involvement of male role models has shown men their part in helping to prevent this issue from occurring. Two examples of men combating the rise of sexual assault are the recent 1 Is 2 Many video advertisements and the invention Undercover Colors by a group of young men from North Carolina State University.

The 1 Is 2 Many ad shows male celebrities like Daniel Craig, Steve Carrell, and Seth Meyers informing the audience on the statistics of sexual assault. The ad also goes on to explain how men are just as responsible for preventing this crime and protect their daughters, sisters, friends, etc. Ads like this allow male viewers to relate to the situation on a deeper level than if a woman were the focal point of the ad. This example teaches men that they have an equally important role in helping women (or at the very least being aware that being an aggressor in these crimes is unacceptable). The group of young men at NCSU took this notion a step further and created a nail polish called Undercover Colors that changes colors when it comes in contact with date rape drugs.

With all of these progressive movements toward educating both sexes on the dangers of sexual assault, media is paving a way for other states and even countries who struggle to prevent sexually charged crimes. Technology and social media has given our society insight into the crime; we are capable of going onto Youtube and watching PSA’s on sexual assault or we can see news of it on our news feeds. There are television shows like Law & Order: SVU and films like Speak that expound upon the struggle of victims of sexual assault that one can refer to in order to understand such atrocities. Media has brought a new sense of awareness to this issue by illuminating the topic so even a state like California would redefine the meaning of sexual assault. The hindrance of all sexual crimes is still a rather distant goal considering the number of people worldwide who are sexually assaulted, whether on college campuses or just out in the real world. However, I have full confidence in the idea that media can be employed as a catalyst to help abolish outrageous actions. Media can be a tricky and manipulative creature, but if operated in the right manner media can be a powerful force for good, like in the case of ridding the world of sexually based crimes.

 

Image: Flickr