The party is over, but the mood is right. The keg kicked hours ago and everyone has gone home, except for Tommy, who passed out in a lawn chair (again). You and the cutie you just met linger, making doe eyes and small talk to prolong the night.
As you run your fingers through each other's hair, you realize the beer-stained futon in the basement is wide open. But before retiring to the hand-me-down love nest where Tommy threw up that one time, there's something you need to get out of the way.
“Baby,” you begin, breaking from a sloppily passionate kiss, “can you sign this real quick?”
Across the country, states and universities are weighing “affirmative consent” laws and policies aimed at curbing sexual assault. The so-called “yes means yes” movement has hit the University of Minnesota, which is considering requiring students to give their “clear and unambiguous” consent before rounding any of the bases.
Although it's not part of the U of M's proposal, a national advocacy group backing the movement is distributing “consent sex contracts” (condom included), which students are supposed to sign and snap a selfie with before getting down. But when love and the scent of stale beer is in the air, would anyone actually sign on a dotted line before doing it? Anna Reget wouldn't.
“Are you serious? That's a little weird,” says the junior. “I probably wouldn't sit down and do the form with them.”
Reget's on board with the university's tentative policy change, once slated to begin this month, now kicked to September so the Board of Regents can chime in. However, Reget and other Gophers say wrapping their genitals in red tape could make for awkward hookups without decreasing sexual assault.
“It might kind of kill the mood,” senior Kevin Mueller says of the contracts. “No one really wants to deal with paperwork in that kind of environment.”
The contracts sound a little strange to Layla Sethuraju too. She digs the idea behind it, but questions whether it would catch on. However, the sophomore says it would clear up any confusion about the amorous proceedings and wouldn't be a big deal if you're comfortable with your partner.
“Once you've signed it you're good, right? So next time it could be more romantic [laughs] – just get it out of the way,” the 19-year-old says.
Amid a night out in Dinkytown, junior Aaron Roundtree admits he'd be “a little freaked out” if someone asked him to sign a pre-coitus contract. The 21-year-old is all for reducing sexual assault, but worries there could be gray areas, like when one-night-stand regret sinks in.
“No one should ever feel like they're in danger of being raped or taken advantage [of],” he says. “But at the same time, I feel like that piece of paper could lead to something negative. You could sign it, but afterward what if they say, 'Oh no, he did take advantage of me.' Then what does this piece of paper really mean?”
Perhaps not much. The sex contract is nonbinding according to the group's website, which also notes consent can be revoked any time.
Though he doesn't think it would solve anything, Alex Cole would sign one if asked. However, the 21-year-old junior is concerned it might make some people feel like they have “a free pass to do whatever they want” in the sack.
In the fight against sexual assault, dudes can be a woman's best friend, Cole says, carefully glancing at his female companion before elaborating. However, some efforts to enlist the fellas can come off as man-shaming, he says. Instead, he favors encouraging people to police themselves, reminding each other that sexual assault is not cool, bro.
“You're going out with your buddies, you're in a frat or whatever, be sure that you're looking at your friend being like, 'Hey man, we're on the same page – this is how we treat women,'” Cole says. “As opposed to trying to go out and say, 'You guys need to fix yourselves,' which I feel like is a problem that puts a lot of men off to learning about sexual assault and all the issues that come with it.”
Send news tips to Michael Rietmulder.
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