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Instead, its effect will be to codify vague and capricious rules governing student conduct, to shift the burden of proof to (usually male) students accused of sexual offenses, and to create a disturbing precedent for government regulation of consensual sex.

But there’s a big difference between sexy banter or endearments, and mandatory checks to confirm you aren’t assaulting your partner (especially when you’re told that such checks must be conducted “in an ongoing manner”).Indeed, the warning that “relying solely on nonverbal communication can lead to misunderstanding,” included in the initial draft of the bill, was dropped from later versions.Yet even after those revisions, one of the bill’s co-authors, Democratic Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal, told the Nonverbal cues indicating consent are almost certainly present in most consensual sexual encounters.But while sexual consent is widely defined as the absence of a “no” (except in cases of incapacitation), anti-rape activists and many feminists have long argued that this definition needs to shift toward an active “yes.” Or, as the California bill puts it: The law’s defenders, such as feminist writer Amanda Hess, dismiss as hyperbole claims that it would turn people into unwitting rapists every time they have sex without obtaining an explicit “yes” (or, better yet, a notarized signature) from their partner.Hess points out that consent can include nonverbal cues such as body language.

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