James Madison University students Haley Nisson and Lauren Hughes look through T-shirts from a previous year’s consent campaign after a meeting of the Campus Assault Response (CARE) student organization in Harrisonburg, Va., on Sept. 15, 2014. (Norm Shafer/ For The Washington Post).

For decades, “no means no” was the clarion call on college campuses seeking to end sexual assault. In California this past weekend, a much different version of that phrase became law when Gov. Jerry Brown (D) announced Sunday he had signed a new bill defining “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity” — in other words, “yes means yes.”

“With one in five women on college campuses experiencing sexual assault, it is high time the conversation regarding sexual assault be shifted to one of prevention, justice, and healing,” Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) said, as the Associated Press reported.

The law applies to all California schools receiving state funds and requires them to adopt policies conforming to it.

“Affirmative consent,” the law says, “means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.” You can read the whole law here.

Now that consent has been defined — albeit ambiguously, as the Los Angeles Times worried in an editorial — can giving or getting it be sexy? Here’s some advice, cut-and-pasted from the Web sites of three universities in other parts of the country, as discussion of what does and doesn’t indicate consent continues.

 

The University of Georgia

How can you make consent sexy?

Show your partner that you respect her/him enough to ask about her/his sexual needs and desires. If you are not accustomed to communicating with your partner about sex and sexual activity the first few times may feel awkward. But, practice makes perfect. Be creative and spontaneous. Don’t give up. The more times you have these conversations with your partner, the more comfortable you will become communicating about sex and sexual activity. Your partner may also find the situation awkward at first, but over time you will both be more secure in yourselves and your relationship.

Oregon State University

Consent Can Be Fun!

In fact, many people find it sexy. This is the fun part of sex; you get to talk about what you want to do and how you want to do it. You can be creative! Some examples of what your partner might like to hear are:

  • “Wanna have sex?”
  • “I’d really like to _____. Would you be into that?”
  • “Would _____ feel good to you right now?”

These phrases are only examples. To find the best option, ask your partner what phrase(s) they find attractive when being asked for consent. It can become part of foreplay! Remember, communication is the best sexual technique and is the easiest way for both people to get what they want from the sexual experience.

The University of Wyoming

Make Consent Sexy

▷ Do you like when I do this?

▷ What would you like me to do for you?

▷ It makes me so hot when you…me there. What makes you hot?

▷ Do you want me to (kiss/touch…)?

Make Consent Fun

▷ Baby, you want to make a bunk bed: me on top, you on bottom?

▷ May I pleasure you with my tongue?

▷ Would you like to try an Australian kiss? It’s like a French kiss, but “Down Under.”

▷ I’ve got the ship. You’ve got the harbor. Can I dock for the night?

 

More pointers from the Consent is Sexy campaign here.

California lawmakers pass a bill requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on campuses. (Reuters)