If you were on social media last week, you no doubt heard about the new contract being promoted to college students by the activists at the Affirmative Consent Project in their effort to beat back the supposed “rape culture” on U.S. campuses. The group suggested that amorous couples, after signing the model contract, take a selfie to document their decision to hook up (and presumably provide a defense in any disciplinary hearings down the road should an accusation of misconduct be leveled). Most free-thinkers recoiled in horror, but The Scrapbook was impressed with the “friendly amendments” offered by Phil Lawler in his column at CatholicCulture.org. Writes Lawler:
Rather than just a selfie, hire a professional photographer to take pictures as the consent is given.
And rather than relying exclusively on photographic evidence, have human witnesses. Invite family and friends.
We all make silly spur-of-the-moment decisions at times. To be sure this isn’t one of them, plan the exchange of consent well in advance. Send out invitations. Since this is (we hope) a joyous occasion, throw a party.
To be very sure that the young woman is giving informed consent (the ACP notes that if she’s drunk, it doesn’t count), let’s involve someone who will be sure to watch out for her best interests. Her father, say. If she walks into the party on his arm, we’ll know that everything is as it should be.
Still this shouldn’t be just a party, because this is serious business. So let’s have the exchange-of-consent ceremony in a venue that suggests a serious purpose. Can’t beat a church for that, can you?
You see where I’m headed. For centuries, society has had a simple, reliable way to ascertain whether a couple had exchanged mutual consent to engage in sexual relations. It was called a marriage. Once the ties between marriage and sex were broken—and we heard the last thread pop on June 26—the question of consent became insoluble.
How do you really—I mean really—know that full consent has been given, if it’s not given in public, before witnesses? How do you know that your partner will be faithful, if there isn’t a pledge of fidelity? How can you be confident that things won’t go terribly wrong, unless your partner vows to stay with you through good times and bad? You don’t. You can’t.
Game, set, and match to Lawler.