The Limits of Affirmative Consent
Affirmative consent is a good for healthy relationships. It’s also the law in an increasing number of states. Teachconsent.org helps parents and teachers educate teenagers about affirmative consent. This guide for parents is a great place to start.
Nevertheless, many respondents find themselves answering to complaints while firmly believing that there was an abundance of affirmative consent. But once accused, how can they prove it? As Alan Dershowitz argues, we are all innocent until proven guilty. Innocence should never have to be proven. Only guilt is to be proven.
Once an accusation has been made and a campaign against a student has started, respondents on college campuses often find themselves in the position of having to prove innocence. There is no ironclad proof of affirmative consent. Abuses of the affirmative consent standard figure prominently in lawsuits against colleges by the accused. Colleges have even gone so far as to disregard written text messages.
At the same time, however, many respondents have protected themselves by asking for and retaining text messages and emails which express the intention of the complainant to have sex or engage in intimate contact.
Of course, it is impossible to document every moment in an evolving sexual relationship. However, being able to establish a pattern of consensual interaction can be powerful defense.
- Make affirmative consent part of your relationship
- Go further by asking for explicit written messages of consent from your partner
- Save all your texts and emails with your sexual partners. Forever. Many complainants wait months, even years to make complaints. If you change email accounts, upload the messages to the cloud or forward them to the new account.