Discretion used to be a part of the romance and mystery of sex. Even our on screens Lotharios considered it poor form to divulge details. The message was clear. Real men don’t need to brag. Because of the inherently private nature of sex, women have benefited from this discretion. But California’s new affirmative consent law is paving a legal and regulatory web that will lead to public pronouncements of acts previously considered private. This will erode the ability of women and men to preserve privacy and discretion about sex. Whether one is comfortable with the idea of a “reputation,” even today women persist in protecting their own:
Among young women, concerns about sexual reputation are pervasive and persistent, as a multitude of research projects with young women in Australia, the UK, and the US over the past three decades has documented. New research suggests men and women consistently lie about how many people they’ve slept with, with men tending to overrepresent and women tending to underrepresent their number of sexual partners.”
Whether this is “good” or “bad” is likely up for some debate. However, it’s not illogical that the gender that bears the larger burden for the outcome of sex tends to be more selective or cautious when engaging in sex. Nor is it unreasonable that the gender that cannot confirm who is the father of any resultant children might place a value on a partner who has demonstrated a capacity for fidelity. Men have logical reasons to consider promiscuity and women have rightly assessed that this does matter in our ability to attract a partner. Women also had traditionally placed a higher value on selectivity for numerous reasons, including the biological nature of sex’s natural outcome.
In many quarters, behaviors that take into account the differences between men and women is considered judgmental. However, men and women are likely to continue this practice even if they learn they shouldn’t speak about it in public because it might offend someone. Overturning hundreds of years of evolutionary behavior is unlikely to occur simply because it might make someone feel better. It’s more likely that men and women will persist in expecting certain things from a potential partner, and they have every right to do so regardless of their perceived political correctness.
There’s nothing irrational about using previous experience to predict future performance. People do this all the time. If they didn’t, it wouldn’t particularly matter who they paired up with. No matter what screed gets written at Jezebel, people can use whatever preference cascade they like when considering whom to personally engage. It’s called freedom of association. Judgment isn’t going to go out of fashion; it will just get pushed underground (or, worse, deferred) until the consequences of withholding judgment are severe. If people want to close an equality gap, perhaps feminists should stop pushing women to behave as badly as some men and instead promote rejecting men who behave badly. They might be surprised by the results they get.
Think About How Ridiculous This Is
Instead there are efforts like California’s new affirmative consent laws to govern sexual relations on college campuses. These are prone to more unintended consequences for everyone. While much of the law appears to simply grandstanding that “Yes does, in fact, mean yes,” the problematic parts start to appear the new law’s attempts to define how people execute affirmative consent. The California law says: “Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. “
I’ll leave it to the reader to imagine how people let out constant affirmative feedback during sex and move on to the next problem. This law does nothing to eliminate a possible “he said, she said” situation where one party can claim affirmative consent while the other denies there was “complete” affirmative consent. So we are back to the same troubling reality, but now there is a new legal expectation that may be theoretically impossible to meet during consensual sex.
The next step to alleviate this new state-imposed burden would be requiring of some sort of documentation to ensure both parties consented in order to avoid any post-coital prosecution. Not to worry, there’s an app for that:
When you use the trendy new consent app, Good2Go, you’re theoretically practicing ‘affirmative consent’: explicit, conscious agreement to sexual activity before it starts. Incidentally, you’re also telling a new mobile development company with no Internet footprint or track record to speak of (a) who you’re sleeping with, (b) when you did it, and (c) how drunk or sober you were at the time.
Your Entire Sex Life, Recorded Forever
Next time someone wonders why women don’t run for public office more often, consider how opponents use their past relationships as campaign fodder. In “What women candidates have to deal with,” Ashe Schow covers how two single Republican female candidates are being treated.
Can a single woman enter politics without her dating life being invaded? Apparently not.
In a letter to the Watertown Daily Times, Michael Flynn asks Republican New York congressional candidate Elise Stefanik whether she has ‘a private relationship’ with anyone. Flynn, who writes that he is a supporter of Stefanik’s Democratic opponent in the 21st Congressional district, Aaron Woolf, argues that candidates should disclose all personal relationships for the voters.
‘I don’t think this falls under the heading of prying eyes; it’s an indicator of what you are about as a person and candidate for congressional office,’ Flynn wrote.
Stefanik is not the only single woman to have her dating life examined. Earlier this year, Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby had her personal life dredged up by Democrats and Politico over a bad breakup that happened years ago.
Wehby was accused of ‘stalking’ her ex-boyfriend after they broke up in 2013. He claims he overreacted and considered getting a protective order against Wehby — but he didn’t. The two are now friends, and Wehby didn’t even know her ex filed a report against her until Politico unearthed it.
Now imagine what it will be like for women when a running tally of their “affirmative consents” from an app like Good2Go will be hackable and thus eventually publicly available. As with many “feminist” initiatives, the winner in this quest will be less-than-honorable men who can use their affirmative consent documentation for bragging rights. Meanwhile average women will lose privacy and the expectations of discretion that decent men used to afford women.
While some women will have the effortless comfort with this brave new world, not every woman can be expected to shrug these things off like Mae West acting her way through a scene. “I wrote the story myself. It’s about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it,” she reportedly said.
Increasing regulations on intimate relationships will invariably lead to a need for publicly documenting a private act. California is blazing the sexual audit trail and placing government right in the middle of our most intimate relationships.
The first time a girl has her “affirmative consent” used to shame her in public, expect backlash from the same people who pushed this in the first place while mocking anyone questioning the unintended consequences of regulating what used to be a private act. Instead, California could just have defaulted to its original definition governing consent between a man and a woman:
Marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary. Consent alone does not constitute marriage. Consent must be followed by the issuance of a license and solemnization as authorized by this division, except as provided by Section 425 and Part 4 (commencing with Section 500).
Those pesky Progressive squares just reinvented the original sexual contract. How forward.
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