Amanda Taub defends California’s new “Yes Means Yes” law, arguing that it “emerged as a response to a status quo that has proved to be an all-too-powerful tool for sexual predators, because it enables them to claim to see consent in everything except continuous, unequivocal rejection”:
This week, a Detroit man murdered a 27-year-old mother of three named Mary Spears after she rejected him in a bar. Right now, a woman is in critical condition in a New York City hospital because a man slashed her throat on the street after she declined to go on a date with him. In April, a Connecticut teenager was murdered by her 16-year-old classmate after she turned down his invitation to prom. Stories like these (and there are others) should remind us that women have a lot of reasons to fear the consequences of saying “no.” That’s all the more reason why silence shouldn’t be presumed to be consent.
That argument in particular changed Ezra Klein’s mind. He now supports the law, even though it’s unlikely to be enforced very often:
If the Yes Means Yes law is taken even remotely seriously it will settle like a cold winter on college campuses, throwing everyday sexual practice into doubt and creating a haze of fear and confusion over what counts as consent. This is the case against it, and also the case for it. Because for one in five women to report an attempted or completed sexual assault means that everyday sexual practices on college campuses need to be upended, and men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.
The Yes Means Yes law could also be called the You Better Be Pretty Damn Sure law. You Better Be Pretty Damn Sure she said yes. You Better Be Pretty Damn Sure she meant to say yes, and wasn’t consenting because she was scared, or high, or too tired of fighting. If you’re one half of a loving, committed relationship, then you probably can Be Pretty Damn Sure. If you’re not, then you better fucking ask.
Robby Soave and others fire back:
First of all: who is to say that “Yes Means Yes” will actually decrease instances of sexual assault? The law’s main function is to push colleges to investigate and adjudicate sexual assault based on a narrower set of standards and without recognition of established due process rights. Given the track record of campus rape trials, there is little reason to think colleges will excel here. I predict more lawsuits—from both accusers and the accused—and similar levels of sexual assault. The heavy hand of government does not automatically and instantly change culture in the manner that central planners envision. …
Klein’s do something at all costs approach is also an indictment of the modern left’s warped priorities and callous disregard for due process. Safeguarding the rights of the accused was once a cardinal virtue of civil liberalism. But for many so-called progressives, paranoia about sexual violence trumps all other considerations. They have much in common with the tough-on-crime conservatives of past decades, in that respect.
Freddie also goes after Ezra – and the elite media in general – for not addressing the law’s risks:
We know that the police state targets the poor. We know that false convictions are far more likely to happen to black and Hispanic men. We know those things. Doing away with the presumption of innocence will not mostly hurt privileged white frat boys. It will hurt poor people and black people the way that our judicial system always does. So if you, like Klein, want to be breezy and loose in your talk about the consequences of a law that many or most admit is badly flawed, fine. But let’s count those costs like adults.
And Judith Shulevitz stands up for the rights of accused rapists:
What’s happening at universities represents an often necessary effort to recategorize once-acceptable behaviors as unacceptable. But the government, via Title IX, is effectively acting on the notion popularized in the 1970s and ’80s by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon that male domination is so pervasive that women need special protection from the rigors of the law. Men, as a class, have more power than women, but American law rests on the principle that individuals have rights even when accused of doing bad things. And American liberalism has long rejected the notion that those rights may be curtailed even for a noble cause.
“We need to take into account our obligations to due process not because we are soft on rapists and other exploiters of women,” says [Harvard professor Janet] Halley, but because “the danger of holding an innocent person responsible is real.”
First, the assumption that sex is a horny guy trying to convince a tired woman to lie there while he pumps away at her sex hole while she wonders to herself if this is what she really wanted is an assessment of heterosexual intercourse so grim that I feel a great deal of pity for the person whose life experiences have led to those conclusions.
That, McArdle points out, is not an argument; it’s just sex shaming:
When guys do this to them, left feminists easily recognize it for what it is: reactionary, misogynist bile spewed by angry people who couldn’t think of an actual argument. So why does Erin Gloria Ryan feel free to deploy it against a woman with whom she disagrees? Why didn’t her colleagues at Jezebel take her aside and say, “Hey, that’s not how we roll. We’re against sex shaming, remember?”
This is not the first time I’ve run into this idea that all’s fair as long as you restrict it to conservatives. Although the exact post seems to be lost to the mists of Internet time, I’ll never forget when a woman at a major feminist site accused me of holding the political opinions I do because — wait for it — I was trying to catch a man. Or the liberal men too numerous to count, or at least bother counting up over the years, who have hailed me with every misogynist slur you could imagine, and a few I’m sure you couldn’t.
Dalmia herself hits back at her detractors:
[I]n a Wonkette–Jezebel gynocracy, discrediting someone’s (imagined) sex life = discrediting their argument.
When Limbaugh called Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who wanted taxpayer funded contraceptive coverage, a “slut,” the whole feminist establishment rose in unison to condemn him—and rightly so. Ultimately, he was forced to do the decent thing and issue an apology. “I did not mean a personal attack,” he said. “My choice of words was not the best, I sincerely apologize to Ms. Fluke for the insulting word choices.” The question now is, can Gray and Ryan manage to rise to Limbaugh’s level? I’m waiting, sisters!