There have been a number of posts lately about people here detailing sexual assaults in their pasts, which has caused me to go back to an incident that I myself went through, and that I was unable to talk about for years. Even when my best friend confessed her sexual assault to me and looked for comfort, I was unable to share my experience. I finally did tell her, years later, and when she asked why I'd never told her earlier, I just shrugged. I knew why, though. It was the same reason I had never told anyone. It was because I hadn't said "No."
It's a question asked in every rape investigation. 'Did you say No? Was it loud enough? Sincere enough? Did you scream, kick, fight? Are you positive you were understood?' If the answer to any of these is in the negative, well- case closed. Not assault. Definitely not rape.
Why is it the responsibility of the victim to define the situation? Is it not possible (even probable) that when placed in an unfamiliar and threatening situation, a person's response might be to freeze? To panic, and not know what to do? To want to avoid confrontation? Why put the onus on them?
We need to start insisting that only "Yes" means yes. We need to teach everyone that it is the responsibility of the instigator to determine that both parties are willing participants to EVERYTHING that might happen. Assuming it's fine and sex is allowed just because your proposed partner isn't screaming is wrong, plain and simple. Silence won't be an answer. You have to get a clear-headed, enthusiastic word or gesture of consent.
Will this get rid of rape? Of course not. But maybe sexual assault survivors will be less afraid to come forward if they know it will be the aggressor being grilled. "Did you ask? Was the answer 'Yes'? Are you sure? How are you so positive?"