If a woman doesn’t say “no” to sex, is that the same thing as saying “yes”? That’s the question at the center of the Steubenville, Ohio, rape trial that began this week… To defense attorney Walter Madison, who is representing one of the accused men, consent is not an affirmative “yes.” He told the Cleveland Plain Dealer that what happened wasn’t rape because the young woman “didn’t affirmatively say no.”

But the absence of a “no” is not the same thing as the presence of a “yes.” And until American culture and law frames sexual consent as proactively, enthusiastically given, there will be no justice for rape victims.

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