“Yes” Means “Yes”


Columbia University senior, Emma Sulkowicz, was raped on the first day of her sophomore year of college. She, like many rape victims, didn’t say anything at first due to a traumatic experience and for emotional reasons. Then, a few months later decided to speak up, but instead of helping her, Columbia University managed to do close to nothing at all. The University supplied her with unhelpful and incapable lawyers and investigators. Eventually the court labeled her case with too little information to be continued and the charges and prosecutions were immediately dropped. Emma’s rapist is still a student at Columbia and he will be graduating with her this year. As her senior thesis, and a way to make a bold statement about rape, Emma Sulkowicz plans on carrying her mattress around campus as long as her rapist is still attending Columbia—so maybe until graduation. It symbolizes the weight that she has to carry with her every single day, which comes hand in hand with the fear she now is constantly burdened with. So far, the community around her has provided her with support and is beginning to speak out about rape culture on college campuses.

The rape culture surrounding college campuses around the U.S. is getting out of control. It is something that has continuously been increasing and nothing has been done to put it to a stop. With all the partying, alcohol, and drug use going on inside of college parties, the idea of consent is seemingly nonexistent. The notion that “boys will be boys” has always been and still is unacceptable. Men are constantly sexualizing women, aggressively trying to pick up women, and prove their manhood by “getting” lots of girls. The culture of our generation has gotten worse over time. Emma Sulkowicz explains that her rapist had also raped a few other girls at Columbia as well—so he is a serial rapist. The fact that he has raped multiple women, and gotten away with it is not okay. It is clear that our society needs to take action and start changing something—because obviously there are serious problems with the way rape and rape culture, in general, is being handled.

Just last week, the California law called, “Yes means Yes” was passed. When a woman says “no,” she is not playing hard to get—she really does means “no.” The state of California has taken a step in the right direction towards protecting women. Instead of a person just saying “no” to sexual activity, now both partners that are about to engage in the sexual activity must consent and agree—“yes” and “yes.” The law also states that consent does not count if a partner is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or asleep. Some people think that this law is unfair for men because men are presumed to be guilty no matter what. This is interesting because just like racial profiling, gender profiling can exist as well. If a woman accuses a man of some sort of assault, ten times out of ten, the man will be assumed to be guilty—whether he actually is or not. Although men feel like it may be easier for them to be accused with this law in act, the law will also protect women against rape and provide them with the justice they deserve. Now when alleged rape survivors go to their universities with sexual-assault accusations the victim is no longer asked how forcefully they said no to the rapist, but instead if there was consent between both partners. If the victim said no—or said nothing at all, that is not considered to be consent. This law will hopefully encourage women to be more open with how they feel about participating sexually with certain people. If colleges are going to make consent mandatory, then both female and male students will be forced to state how they feel and what they want. Women typically are taught to hold in their sexual feelings and not admit that sex pleases the female too. But with the “Yes” Means “Yes” law, now women can openly talk about sex, what they want, and what they do not want. I think this law is exactly what our society needs in order to work towards lessening sexual assault on college campuses.


Cultural complacency is a dynamic in which people participate in a social agenda against their own will—so rape culture is included. But when people are involved in rape culture, it tends to involve objectifying women. The fact that society thinks it is acceptable for men to sexualize women and objectify them is the main factor leading to rape and sexual assault. I think that a few things will happen with the new law in act. First off, men are not going to be able to get away with rape as easily as they have in the past—especially in the college setting. With the new consent rule, _______. Second, women are going to be more open about how they feel. If expressing your consent is necessary, then women will be forced to talk about what they really want. This will lead to less confusion when it comes to sex between two partners. In conclusion, California’s “Yes” Means “Yes” law is going to go a long way. Hopefully more states will adapt the law and college campuses will become safer and less prone to sexual assault.


Works Cited

“Home.” Carrying The Weight Together. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2014. <http://w


“Students Help Emma Sulkowicz Carry Mattress to Class in First Collective Carry.”

Columbia Daily Spectator. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2014. <http://columbiaspectator.co m/spectrum/2014/09/10/students-help-emma-sulkowicz-carry-mattress-class-first-collective-carry>.

Friedman, Ann. “Oh Yes Means Yes: The Joy of Affirmative Consent.” The Cut. N.p.,

n.d. Web. 03 Oct. 2014. <http://nymag.com/thecut/2014/10/oh-yes-means-yes-the-joy-of-affirmative-consent.html&gt;.

Digital image. Black Press USA. N.p., n.d. Web. 4 Oct. 2014.


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