House Bill 133, which has already received approval in the Health and Human Services Committee, would require public schools and universities throughout the state to set affirmative consent as the standard for all their activities addressing and investigating problems of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, dating violence, harassment and stalking.
What is affirmative consent? According to HB 133, it is the “affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity,” which cannot be implied, assumed, or given by a person who is unconscious or incapacitated by alcohol or drugs. If participants in a sexual act do not affirmatively consent, one of them has committed assault against the other.
The concept of affirmative consent gained widespread attention after a New York woman made public details of her relations with comedian Aziz Ansari during a date in 2018. She says she sent many cues she was uncomfortable; he says he thought she consented to sex non-verbally.
Affirmatively expressing consent brings clarity to this grey area. As a norm of social interaction, affirming consent can avoid misunderstandings that produce lasting damage.