Alison Berke Morano knew that the idea of a written contract, titled “YES! We agree to have SEX!” would get people talking.
But as co-founder of the Affirmative Consent Project, she couldn’t be more pleased. Morano’s group has launched a national campaign encouraging colleges to adopt “affirmative consent” policies, which state that students could face disciplinary action for sexual encounters unless both participants give explicit consent.
As part of the campaign, Morano and her group created “consent kits,” which include both a condom and a written contract that students can sign (“On this date … we agree to have consensual sex. …”).
Morano admits that she doesn’t expect everyone to actually sign such a document. And it’s certainly not required by any college, including the University of Minnesota, which is considering an affirmative consent policy of its own.
But Morano sees the contract as a way to make a point about having sex: Are they sure the feeling is mutual?
“We hope that people will just look at it,” she said. “Maybe it slows them down for a tenth of a second. They look at each other and say, ‘We’re sure, right?’ ”
The idea of signing a contract — in an intimate moment — didn’t seem to impress students at the U last week.
“I don’t think it would really go over well,” said Stephanie Batten, a 19-year-old junior. “The whole contract thing is a little absurd. Making sure there is consent, I obviously don’t think is absurd.”
Grace Watson, a 20-year-old junior, called it “really cheesy.” She predicted that “people would mock it.”
Troy Kariniemi, a 22-year-old senior, said he agrees with the goal of ensuring consent. But a written contract? “It just basically kills the mood,” he laughed. “I would never see this as actually happening.”
So far, though, Morano says her group has sold hundreds of consent kits, at $2.49 apiece. “We’re not in this to bring lawsuits,” she said. “We’re trying to open the conversation.”