Sexual assault is a frequent subject of dinner conversation in my house. As a prosecutor for the Army, my husband deals with these cases every day. Our discussions give me a closer perspective on the policy issues being debated at Princeton.
“Sexual Misconduct: The New Rules” (feature, Sept. 16) was right to emphasize that “no means no” is not enough. However, a messaging campaign focused on “yes means yes” will still fall short. There is a serious disconnect when we treat sexual assault gravely but otherwise treat sex casually. Students feel enormous pressure to be sexually active at the cost of other principles, including respect of others’ personal rights. These sorts of attitudes also minimize the pain of victims and often discourage them from reporting the assault out of embarrassment for feeling that it actually did matter.
I hope that moving forward, the University will take a cue from student groups like the Anscombe Society and a newer group called The Alternative (both absent from the article) who pose questions beyond consent when it comes to sexual choices. I was never a member of either group, but I, and many others I knew, appreciated the message that consent is necessary, but not sufficient, for a sexual culture that is truly based on respect.