Famous science fiction author Robert Heinlein wrote about the crazy years. This was a period of history in his stories in which technology rapidly advanced while society broke down. In 1941 Heinlein wrote:
Considerable technical advance during this period, accompinied (sic) by a gradual deterioration of mores, orientation and social institutions, terminating in mass psychoses in the sixth decade and the Interregnum.
In his stories, this period covered the late 20th century and early 21st century. A growing number of people are now regarding this as prescient.
Growing up in a western country it was common to hear someone say which part of no don’t you understand? The message was clear. When a woman said no she meant it! In any case, no means no is the past. The future is yes means yes or as it is now often called affirmative consent.
In an affirmative consent jurisdiction, a woman engaging in sex with a man need not notify the man when she withdraws consent. Rather it is presumed that the man needs to take note of her affirmation of consent (verbally or otherwise) and cease sexual activity if he does not observe it. This shifts the onus of proof to a man accused of sexual assault as it is now up to the man to establish that the woman did not withdraw consent.
Consider now that consent can be withdrawn at any time. This is a fundamental legal principle now established in law throughout the West and in most other nations as well. Since consent can be withdrawn at any time affirmative consent has to be continuous to have any value.
Even a short delay between a woman withdrawing consent and a man ceasing sexual activity can result in criminal charges and jail. We have seen this with Kevin Ibbs who continued sexual intercourse for a short period after consent was withdrawn. He became known as the 30 second rapist and was imprisoned in Australia for four years. In contrast Maouloud Baby denied having continued intercourse with a woman after she withdrew consent. Despite her assertion that he had continued for only 5-10 seconds he was convicted of first-degree rape in Maryland and was sentenced to 15 years imprisonment with all but five suspended. Both of these cases occurred without the additional risk of affirmative consent.
A man seeking to defend himself against an allegation of sexual assault in an affirmative consent jurisdiction would need to establish to the court that the woman had consented to sex continuously. It is unrealistic to presume that a man could offer sufficient evidence to establish continuous consent. It follows then that in an affirmative consent jurisdiction the only safe course of action is for men to not have sex with women.
A growing number of jurisdictions define rape as sexual assault without consent, in accordance with the Istanbul Convention. This however stops short of affirmative consent.
In 2018 Sweden introduced two new offences: negligent rape and negligent sexual assault. Convictions for either requires that the offender did not properly establish consent to sexual activity. Not surprisingly for readers of this site, conviction rates for rape and sexual assault rose by 75% in the two years after the introduction of these laws.
Opinions differ on whether Sweden is truly an affirmative consent jurisdiction as the prosecution reportedly still has the burden of proof to establish that consent was not granted. Even the Deputy Prime Minister of Sweden, Isabella Lovin, reportedly claimed that the legislative changes would reverse the burden of proof before backtracking on these comments.
The Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) is another matter, however. It is very clear that NSW intends to introduce affirmative consent laws. This is despite concerns from the NSW Law Society and the NSW Council for Civil Liberties.
Many jurisdictions have no statute of limitations on criminal matters. Combined with affirmative consent a man could be at risk of a complaint of sexual assault against him at any future time. Any man that has sex with a woman in such an affirmative consent jurisdiction is allowing her to point a gun at his head – permanently.
Some commentators have noted that a man accused of sexual assault or rape by a woman in an affirmative consent jurisdiction could immediately just make the same complaint against her. Each party would then have the burden of proving their own innocence.
As if all this wasn’t bad enough, there is a variant of affirmative consent called enthusiastic consent. As the name suggests, now consent has to be given enthusiastically. So far no jurisdiction has gone this far but feminists continue to push for it.
Note that the entire discussion to this point revolves around women’s consent. While these laws are written in a gender-neutral manner they are always applied in an entirely gendered manner. And the gender that gets to go to jail is the male gender.
Affirmative consent laws have the potential to cause irreparable damage to our society. I believe these laws will be revoked or more likely pared away in the future. By then it may be too late. The damage will have been done. Damage to human relationships and thus ultimately damage to the family structure. A society that harms the family structure will ultimately fall to one that does not.