I treat feminist legal scholars, mainstream advocacy organizations like RAINN, and existing/proposed legislation as authoritative.
Q) What is affirmative consent?
A: A legal or ethical standard that makes sex opt-in rather than opt-out.
Q) Is affirmative consent the same as verbal consent?
A: No. Affirmative consent means using best judgement based on words and actions.
Before the Seventeenth Amendment, United States Senators were not directly chosen by voters, but rather, elected by state legislatures who were in turn directly chosen by voters. The idea was that the legislatures would choose extraordinary gentlemen of some sort, who were virtuous or wise in ways common voters wouldn’t recognize.
The Seventeenth Amendment did away with that, and now we have two relatively similar houses of congress, pretty much just for the heck of it. But with some imagination, we can pretend we still have something like the original Senate, in the Supreme Court – officials not directly elected, but nominated and approved by directly-elected officials – with law degrees from prestigious universities, which may be 21st-century America’s version of “virtuous and wise in ways common voters wouldn’t recognize.”