Is this OK? What about this? Still OK?

Students at the Urban School of San Francisco attended a forum on affirmative consent. Photo: Noah Berger, New York Times

New rules for “affirmative consent” are complicating sex education classes, reports the New York Times. In San Francisco, 10th graders were surprised to learn they need a “yes” for every step of a sexual relationship to meet the “yes means yes” standard.

Consent from the person you are kissing — or more — is not merely silence or a lack of protest, Shafia Zaloom, a health educator at the Urban School of San Francisco, told the students. They listened with rapt attention, but several did not disguise how puzzled they felt.

“What does that mean — you have to say ‘yes’ every 10 minutes?” asked Aiden Ryan, 15, who sat near the front of the room.

“Pretty much,” Ms. Zaloom answered. “It’s not a timing thing, but whoever initiates things to another level has to ask.”

California requires high schools to teach about “yes means yes,” but the standard only applies to college disciplinary panels. It doesn’t affect criminal prosecutions — or Californians who aren’t college students.

Other states are considering similar legislation for colleges, reports the Times.

In San Francisco, the private school students brainstormed ways to ask for consent.

They crossed off a list of options: “Can I touch you there?” Too clinical. “Do you want to do this?” Too tentative. “Do you like that?” Not direct enough.

“They’re all really awkward and bizarre,” one girl said.

“You good?” was the best they came up with.

California’s law is “terrible,” Vox’s Ezra Klein tells the Los Angeles Times. But he supports it because “men need to feel a cold spike of fear when they begin a sexual encounter.”

One in five college women report an attempted or completed sexual assault, says Klein.

Of course, that requires defining “sexual assault” very broadly. Unwelcome sexual contact is very common. If “yes every 10 minutes means yes” becomes the standard, four out of five students will be victims of nonconsensual sexual activity.

Defining all drunken sex as nonconsensual will take that even higher. It’s not what the law says, notes Hans Bader, but it’s where it’s going.

A “yes” can be withdrawn without a clear “no” under affirmative consent theory, points out Megan McArdle. Nobody could be “fully sure that they were not breaking the law.”

Until now, college has been seen as place to experiment with alcohol, drugs and sex. (And ideas.) The “cold winter” already has set in. Now, sex is dangerous — and not in a fun way — especially for males.

“It’s as if George Orwell’s Junior Anti-Sex League has occupied feminism,” said Christina Hoff Sommers.

‘I wasted my youth being self-righteous’

In Confessions of a Prep-School Feminist in the New Yorker, Curtis Sittenfeld (she’s female), recalls her days at Groton, where she served as “the self-appointed gender police.”

Ferreting out “examples of boys misbehaving and girls being mistreated” wasn’t difficult because she’d made herself a magnet for boys’ offensive jokes.

As a senior, she wrote a column in the school newspaper about Groton’s Group for Female Awareness. The Washington Post reprinted it, after editing out her positive comments about the school.

Twenty-one years later, Sittenfeld realizes she “cherry-picked examples to support my argument, and I made Groton look bad in ways that weren’t specific to Groton; similar stories could have been told about any other élite boarding school.”

“Looking back, I fear that I wasted my youth being self-righteous; I might be one of the few Americans who thinks she should have spent more of high school cutting class and drinking beer.”

I vaguely remember going to a “women’s lib” conference when I was in high school in the late ’60s and taking offense when construction workers whistled at me. (I had a red dress so short that I later wore it as a shirt.) In college, I belonged to a women’s discussion group. Did we call it a “solidarity group?” It was something like that.

The movement really was liberating for women like me, born in the early 1950s. We didn’t have to manufacture grievances back in the day.

Nobody can ‘have it all’

Women still can’t have it all, writes Anne-Marie Slaughter in The Atlantic. She left a high-powered State Department job to return to academia to have time for her children. She wants employers to let people — not just parents — work from home when possible and take time for family needs.

. . . women should think about the climb to leadership not in terms of a straight upward slope, but as irregular stair steps, with periodic plateaus (and even dips) when they turn down promotions to remain in a job that works for their family situation; when they leave high-powered jobs and spend a year or two at home on a reduced schedule; or when they step off a conventional professional track to take a consulting position or project-based work for a number of years.

Remember the outcry when Felice Schwartz told employers to create a family-friendly alternative for professionals? It was dubbed the “mommy track.”

Men can’t have it all either, responds James Joyner. His wife died suddenly, leaving him with a toddler and an infant.

Not long after my wife’s passing, I was offered a promotion that would have helped bridge the loss of her income but would have required much more time at the office. Professionally, it was a good move. It also made sense financially, even though it would have meant paying for a few more hours of childcare. I nonetheless declined because my daughters needed me to spend that time with them. And, frankly, I needed to spend that time with them, too.

The fact is that life is full of trade-offs. It’s not possible to “have it all.” It never was. And never will be. For women or for men.

Of course, most people aren’t going to be CEO or Secretary of State no matter how hard or long they work.

The myth of the good mother

Today’s women face a new form of oppression — the pressure to be a perfect mother — argues French feminist Elisabeth Badinter in The Conflict.  The good mother is a “myth,” Badinter tells The Globe and Mail. “A frustrated mother who is denied her own desires and ambitions is not good at all for her child.”

Ms. Badinter argues that yesterday’s patriarchy has been replaced by the tyranny of a suckling baby, and the pressures of “natural” parenting in the form of drug-free childbirth, co-sleeping, and cloth diapers. Moreover, women’s decision to step out of the workforce to devote themselves to their children is setting the cause of equality back to their grandmother’s generation.

When feminists fought to involve fathers in childrearing, bottle-feeding was “very practical,” Badinter says. Now breastfeeding and co-sleeping make fathers de trop.

The new model of super-parenting might work for some women, she concedes, but it’s not right for everyone. “And to those who don’t feel like adopting motherhood as a full-time job, don’t believe you are bad mothers.”

A retired professor, Badinter and her husband have three grown children.