Emily Bazelon, Hooking Up at an Affirmative-Consent Campus? It’s Complicated, NYTimes:
“It would be much more gratifying, and in both parties’ best interest, for both the girl and guy to be straightforward — ‘Hey, I’m willing to do this,’ ” a 19-year-old male water-polo player said. “And yet the vocabulary for it is not really there.” Affirmative-consent policies try to address this by recognizing body language as a form of consent. But to most of the men I talked to, this seemed like an invitation to more ambiguity, not less.This is what's interesting to me: “And yet the vocabulary for it is not really there.” And it's a "vocabulary," of course, that's both verbal and non-verbal. Switching in and out of verbal mode is tricky, as is switching in and out of sexual mode, or sleep mode. In general, switching from one behavioral mode to another is tricky business.
One area where the men were more at ease was “bystander intervention.” Universities know that probably the biggest threat to women on campus comes from a small group of serial predators who, research suggests, are responsible for most assaults. Some institutions, like Yale, are training students to watch for warnings signs that someone might be at risk. Sophomores take a workshop in which they watch an eight-minute video of a girl who goes out dancing, drinks to the point of bleary-eyed obliteration and lets a guy take her into a bedroom, where he forebodingly shuts the door. The second half of the video rewinds, noting the points at which a friend, a bartender, a stranger or a roommate could have stepped in to protect her. The interventions mostly aren’t lengthy or heroic. They’re small moments, and students are encouraged to be alert to indications that someone is exerting or feeling sexual pressure and to feel comfortable stepping in.
And they do. Every male student I talked to had a story about intervening on the dance floor or at a party, mostly by just saying hello to someone who looked like a target of unwanted aggressive attention.
Remember, this is Sonnet 129 territory.