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In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writer and activist Jaclyn Friedman and Full Frontal Feminism and He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut author Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure. Feminist, political, and activist writers alike will present their id In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writer and activist Jaclyn Friedman and Full Frontal Feminism and He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut author Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure. Feminist, political, and activist writers alike will present their ideas for a paradigm shift from the “No Means No” model—an approach that while necessary for where we were in 1974, needs an overhaul today. Yes Means Yes will bring to the table a dazzling variety of perspectives and experiences focused on the theory that educating all people to value female sexuality and pleasure leads to viewing women differently, and ending rape. Yes Means Yes aims to have radical and far-reaching effects: from teaching men to treat women as collaborators and not conquests, encouraging men and women that women can enjoy sex instead of being shamed for it, and ultimately, that our children can inherit a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished. With commentary on public sex education, pornography, mass media, Yes Means Yes is a powerful and revolutionary anthology.


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In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writer and activist Jaclyn Friedman and Full Frontal Feminism and He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut author Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure. Feminist, political, and activist writers alike will present their id In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writer and activist Jaclyn Friedman and Full Frontal Feminism and He’s A Stud, She’s A Slut author Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure. Feminist, political, and activist writers alike will present their ideas for a paradigm shift from the “No Means No” model—an approach that while necessary for where we were in 1974, needs an overhaul today. Yes Means Yes will bring to the table a dazzling variety of perspectives and experiences focused on the theory that educating all people to value female sexuality and pleasure leads to viewing women differently, and ending rape. Yes Means Yes aims to have radical and far-reaching effects: from teaching men to treat women as collaborators and not conquests, encouraging men and women that women can enjoy sex instead of being shamed for it, and ultimately, that our children can inherit a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished. With commentary on public sex education, pornography, mass media, Yes Means Yes is a powerful and revolutionary anthology.

30 review for Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ciara

    i expected to find this book irritating, because i find most of what jessica valenti is involved in irritating (see my scathing review of full frontal feminism for more), & i find a lot of discourse around consent tedious & lumbering, a game of one-upsmanship in which people are proposing ever more individualistic & unrealistic-outside-of-incestuous-radical-enclaves solutions to the tremendous problem of sexual assault & rape culture. the calls for submissions were framed as jessica & her co-edi i expected to find this book irritating, because i find most of what jessica valenti is involved in irritating (see my scathing review of full frontal feminism for more), & i find a lot of discourse around consent tedious & lumbering, a game of one-upsmanship in which people are proposing ever more individualistic & unrealistic-outside-of-incestuous-radical-enclaves solutions to the tremendous problem of sexual assault & rape culture. the calls for submissions were framed as jessica & her co-editor, jaclyn friedman, asking feminist thinkers to leave "no means no" in the dust & write some essays on women reclaiming autonomous sexual pleasure & power as a way to end rape once & for all, which i think we can all agree is absurdly ludicrous & could only be the product of self-referential bloggers who have lost all touch with reality. i sincerely doubt that most rapists & sexual assaulters would be particularly impressed or dissuaded from raping in the face of impassioned essays on female sexual power. it just puts the onus on ending rape on women, in new & more insidious ways. HOWEVER! it seems like a lot of folks who contributed essays to the book were thinking along lines very similar to mine. & rather than giving the book up as a bad job, they wrote essays that specifically countered the spoken aims of the call for submissions, & these essays turned the book into something different & much better than it would have been. one of the best essays, in my opinion, was miriam zoila perez's piece, "when sexual autonomy isn't enough," about the epidemic levels of rape & sexual assault faced by immigrant women without the means to protect themselves or escape abusive situations due to racism, classism, & exploitative immigration laws in the united states. she repeatedly states that reclaiming sexual power is not going to help these women fight back against the institutional powers that are oppressing them. a lot of other contributers wrote similar essays, pointing out that women can relcaim their sexual power until the cows come home, but rape culture is an endemic & enduring system of interlocking oppressions that need to be consciously dismantled before we're going to start seeing significant changes. a few of the essays had me nodding my head in surprised agreement, like in rachel kramer bussel's essay, when she critiques the slogan "consent is sexy," asking if we really needed to "sell" a concept like consent. YES! finally, someone willing to say that they find that slogan as vapid & inconsequential as i do! leah lakshmi piepzna-samarasinka blew me away, as usual. (she's apparently working on a memoir & i COULD NOT be more excited!) other essays were predictably obnoxious. jessica valenti herself contributed something on purity balls, a pretty blatantly obvious attempt to whet people's appetites for her forthcoming book on the construction of feminine purity. *yawn* it's no longer 1983, this topic has been tread into the ground, & i don't get why she has to constantly be forwarding her future career with every essay or book she writes. why not just stick to the subject at hand, for once? worse than that was javacia n. harris's awful piece, "a woman's worth," which took twelve pages to basically say, "i know that women working in hooters-type restaurants are being exploited because of their low self-esteem, because i used to have low self-esteem & wanted to work in a hooters restaurant. then i became an aerobics instructor & got over it." wow, tell me more about how you know what all women are thinking because of how you once thought, & how your experience must be the experience of every other woman in the world making choices with which you disagree. the set-up of the book was gimmicky in certain ways. jessica & jaclyn wanted to mimic the "information-sharing" & "user-guided" reading models of feminist blogs (seriously?), so they assigned a few overarching themes to each essay & "linked" to similarly-themed essays throughout the book. the themes seems to be assigned at random sometimes. like, i think every author of color was squished into the "race relating" theme, even if they didn't write specifically about race issues in their essay. ditto with queer contributers. i sometimes felt that these weird gimmicks were a way for the editors to show off how "diverse" their essayists were, so that this supposed intersectionality would reflect back on them & make them seem like awesome intersectional feminists, even though jessica valenti has only ever seemed invested in the interests of young, white, able-bodied, straight women (i don't know enough about jaclyn friedman's work to judge). but whatever. there was indeed some good shit in here, mixed with some boring or enraging shit, & as long as you can read with a critical eye & don't just swallow every idea as The Last Word on Feminism & Sexual Autonomy/Dismantling Rape Culture in 2009, you should be okay.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emily May

    A really powerful read. This book attempts to refute the notion that sex is something that happens to women - that they are conquests, not participants. It's also about how women enjoy sex as much as men and shouldn't be shamed for it. A really powerful read. This book attempts to refute the notion that sex is something that happens to women - that they are conquests, not participants. It's also about how women enjoy sex as much as men and shouldn't be shamed for it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Avory

    Read this book. No, really. Read. This. Book. I can't tell you how much the essays in this collection made me rethink my perspective on female sexuality, rape culture, what it means to be a woman in America right now, and many other topics. These essays are eye-openers, embracing not only a sex-positive look at female sexuality but also a perspective that views all forms of sexual pain as legitimate injuries. The essayists go beyond the question of "was there rape?" and "did she say no?" and look Read this book. No, really. Read. This. Book. I can't tell you how much the essays in this collection made me rethink my perspective on female sexuality, rape culture, what it means to be a woman in America right now, and many other topics. These essays are eye-openers, embracing not only a sex-positive look at female sexuality but also a perspective that views all forms of sexual pain as legitimate injuries. The essayists go beyond the question of "was there rape?" and "did she say no?" and look instead at how the culture accepts heterosexual experiences where the woman experiences just a little or no pleasure as ordinary and acceptable. These essays challenge us to raise our expectations of sex and not to accept the misogyny and anti-woman behavior that is so prevalent in our society. The book also spans quite an array of topics. There are essays from the perspective of women of color, sex workers, and a MTF transsexual. There are essays on the problems faced by female immigrants, poor women, young women, and drug-users. Some essays explore the purity myth, while others look at incest or homophobia. There's something for everyone, but I would strongly recommend this book to all women, no matter whether you consider yourself a feminist or whether you've ever really thought about rape culture before. It's an eye-opening experience.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Yasmin

    A rather problematic book which has become something of a bible for neoliberal feminists. Here's an excerpt from my review: "Yes Means Yes rests at the nexus of two ideological points. One is a liberal feminism so battered by decades of right-wing sexism that it spends all its energy reacting to the same instead of questioning how it might have become part of the problem. The other is a burgeoning domestic violence/rape counseling industrial complex compelled to paint its clients solely as pathet A rather problematic book which has become something of a bible for neoliberal feminists. Here's an excerpt from my review: "Yes Means Yes rests at the nexus of two ideological points. One is a liberal feminism so battered by decades of right-wing sexism that it spends all its energy reacting to the same instead of questioning how it might have become part of the problem. The other is a burgeoning domestic violence/rape counseling industrial complex compelled to paint its clients solely as pathetic victims in order to get funding. The one supplies the earnest foot soldiers for the other. Many of the writers work in women-oriented non-profits, but very few see the pitfalls of their work. An exception, Chicagoan Lee Riggs, writes of leaving rape crisis work because she felt “drained … within a framework that positioned the criminal legal system as the primary remedy for sexual violence.”" You can read the rest of my review here: http://www.yasminnair.net/content/yes...

  5. 5 out of 5

    Elevate Difference

    Connections: The Apostate and Professor What If review... Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape The Apostate: My initial reaction when I heard about the anthology was mixed. It seemed that the problem of rape was being used for a catchy slogan's sake (the catchy slogan being a play on the anti-rape "no means no" rule), and not because it made any real sense. I wasn't sure where you could go with that—connecting sexuality with rape culture in a way that was meaning Connections: The Apostate and Professor What If review... Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape The Apostate: My initial reaction when I heard about the anthology was mixed. It seemed that the problem of rape was being used for a catchy slogan's sake (the catchy slogan being a play on the anti-rape "no means no" rule), and not because it made any real sense. I wasn't sure where you could go with that—connecting sexuality with rape culture in a way that was meaningful for actual cultural change and impact on women's lives. Professor What If: The introduction notes that the book intends to offer “a frank and in-depth conversation about forward-thinking ways to battle-rape culture,” and the book truly does contain many frank, in-depth conversations that formulate ways to rethink not only preventing rape, but also re-shaping the way we approach sex and sexuality. While the reasons behind the book are laudable, I find the claim that valuing female sexual pleasure will stop rape the book puts forward a bit too simplistic. Although the book nods to the complex socio-cultural factors that perpetuate rape culture, it stops short of really grappling with how rape is a by-product of our patriarchal, militarized, commodified world. I do think this is a very important book that makes crucial contributions to re-thinking sexuality, but it is only part of a much needed conversation we need to have—both in books and in blogs—about eradicating rape culture. The Apostate: I think "rape culture" should have been expounded upon more. I don't think people understand the difference between rape and rape culture, and that wasn't really addressed, which gave rise to some of the confusion around why anyone thought Yes Means Yes! would stop rape—the writers didn't think it would! They just want to dismantle rape culture, which is a bigger and more amorphous thing than the specific crime of rape, even if rape takes place within the context of rape culture. Professor What If: I was impressed with the broad coverage of the book and the diversity of voices. I especially appreciated those pieces that emphasized anti-rape activism must include teaching men not to rape and helping men to recognize rape. Jill Filipovic’s piece, for example, was very effective in examining the social-cultural contexts of rape culture and the need to include men in anti-rape activism and education. I also liked the inclusion of queer, male, fat, sex work, and BDSM perspectives. The Apostate: My favorite essay was Thomas MacAuley Millar’s. It really dismantled the perceptions of sex as something that is done to you, as a woman, rather than something you (enthusiastically) participate in. That is not a concept enough people understand; and although I get it, I have never seen it articulated so well as Millar did. His essay was beautifully written, cogent, with a great metaphor about sex as music. The commodity model of sex is one of the biggest hurdles women face, if they act like they are free to pursue their pleasure. People don't think their pleasure is really part of the picture at all, since women are the object, not the subject. And another thing: I had never realized how "no means no" continues to frame the sex as between a predator and prey, as Julia Serano defined the terms. Professor What If: Many of the authors argued against the 'power over' dynamic that shapes our thinking about sexuality by emphasizing mutual consent, doing away with the competition model of sex, ensuring certain partners (namely women) are not objectified/dehumanized, etc. I think this re-thinking of the power dynamics in relation to sex/sexuality are crucial. However, they must also be addressed in relation to those politics of domination that shape our society—patriarchy, capitalism, sexism, racism. Also, I wonder about the subtitle “visions of female sexual power.” Do we really want to rethink sexuality in terms of power? Doesn’t this go against the mutual consent/pleasure model the book upholds? The Apostate: The emphasis on sexual assault—and personal stories of pain and damage around that—got overwhelming in the second half of the book. The joy of enthusiastically consenting sex got lost in there. I think that focusing on how rape and sexual assault affect women's lives is very important, especially as so much of this reality is not captured in statistics or on the news, but perhaps sex as pain should not have predominated quite as much. Professor What If: I think an analysis of rape in same-sex or non-heterosexual relationships is missing. In keeping with this notion, the book frames women as rape victims, not covering boys and men as also victims/survivors of rape. For example, as rape within systems like the Catholic Church and public schools is prevalent, this seems a key omission. How could the rape culture condoned by religious establishments or the military be addressed via the “yes means yes” paradigm? In ways, the book leaves out the institutionalized aspect of rape and focuses on “individual rape scripts.” In so doing, it doesn’t fully examine those social structures and institutions that shape sexuality and perpetuate rape culture—the family, the church, the law, the military, etc. The Apostate: The overall feel I got from the book was very "alternative." It was very citified, and very margins-of-society, written by people we don't hear from on a daily basis in mainstream coverage. Those voices are all the more crucial for being so marginalized, and also because it is on the margins of society that the worst abuses happen. That said, I think it lacked a certain degree of balance. I did think it covered a wide range of issues and perspectives—except for married, heterosexual, middle class sexuality and the sexuality of older people. The only reason I would have liked to see that balance is to "normalize" these issues for the mainstream; so much of this sort of thing is hidden, under wraps, and allowing only the margins to speak out about it gives the deceptive impression that the problem of rape culture is not the problem of all women—which it most certainly is. Professor What If: I love blogs and blogging, but books are not blogs. Rather than trying to make the two mediums the same, I think we should value each medium (print v. online) in its own right. I found the “hyper-link” structure did not translate well into print format. Further, in keeping with the “blog format” of the book, many of the pieces were written in the less formal, talky style of blogs. Javacia Harris, for example, writes “Don’t get me wrong. I’m certainly not anti-sexy—I’ve been to my fair share of striptease aerobics classes.” This style seems too light for the aims outlined in the introduction and this style allows comments like these to be tossed out with no analysis of the wider cultural contexts that defines normative notions of “sexy” and results in the very existence of striptease aerobics classes in the first place. Too often the attitude that framed the arguments in the book is that any choice is ok as long as you know why you’re making it. This “sexual empowering choices model” is too simplistic. This is partly due to choosing a “blog style” for the book—a style that makes the book seem a bit too light given the subject matter at hand. While blogs work in a conversational, of-the-minute style, books allow for more thoughtful, hard-hitting, heavily researched writing. Both have their merits, but trying to write a book that functions like a blog makes me wonder about the purpose of going the print publication route; if one is not going to take advantage of a book format (and go into deeper analysis/research), stick to a blog (and indeed, the editors have a blog of the same name now up and running. The Apostate: I also thought the hyper-link theme was a little redundant. I liked the idea to begin with, but I ended up skipping the lists at the end of each essay and just read linearly. I did glance at a few and thought they didn't always make sense; they tended to include a quarter of the book each time, after every essay. A thematic unity among pieces kind of fell into one's head automatically, so I didn't see the necessity of that. As for the authors being mostly bloggers and part of the blogging community, I do think that it was perhaps a little insular and self-referential. For someone outside that community of bloggers, perhaps a lot of this stuff would be very new—some context is missing and some pieces are more bewildering than others. But overall, the hyper-linking style is easily ignored and doesn't detract, even if it doesn't add. Professor What If: I think examining the many factors that contribute to rape culture is helpful in addressing the pervasiveness of sexual violence. However, I still found there was a bit too much emphasis on what females do/do not do. The introduction notes that often what is missing in analyses of rape is the rapist. This book, with its focus on “yes” and on female’s “owning” their sexuality also under-analyzes rapists, instead focusing on women’s need to familiarize themselves with “enthusiastic consent.” In a strange way, the book thus keeps the onus of changing rape culture squarely on women’s shoulders. Many of the solutions seem a bit too individualized—as if becoming sexually empowered and educated will be enough to stop rape (or at least stop it from happening to oneself). While many of the texts offer useful, concrete suggestions to move towards a world without rape, I think more analysis of how the politics of domination upheld within patriarchy, capitalism, and militarism (all which profoundly shape our world) was needed. Also, we need to examine how intertwined violence and sexuality are in contemporary society—violence is so pervasive that it cannot be extracted from sex/sexuality. All of the enthusiastic “yes’s” in the world won’t change this. The Apostate: A lot of issues being talked about are really not discussed in our society and they need to be. And I was totally won over by the thesis of the book—that a woman's right and enthusiastic consent to sex were central to how sex and sexual violence are perceived. I’m really glad to see a somewhat mainstream book about women's experiences and hopes for a positive, enthusiastic, feminist ideal that also includes women as sexual creatures: horny, lusty, and slutty. Jaclyn Friedman's essay about overt sexuality really spoke to me on that front. Professor What If: I think the book is a really good first step towards re-thinking rape culture. I think, like Valenti’s other books, it will speak to many young feminists. However, being the theory-loving academic that I am, I found myself writing in the margins comments such as, “But where is the theory?” For that reason, I really liked Lee Jacobs Riggs account of our “sex negative” culture and the ways she also addressed the prisons/the criminal legal system and other oppressive systems. I would have liked more hard-hitting pieces like the ones by Coco Fusco and Miriam Zoila Perez (which were my favorites). Too often elsewhere, I came across the word “probably” being used to assess information. In the end, I also found the attack on second-wavers off-putting. Why does this have to be one of the defining characteristics of third wave texts? We need to get over the feminist blame game. No one “wave” has all the answers, and I think sometimes third wave feminism fails to address it’s own shortcomings. Review by The Apostate and Professor What If

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kari

    I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoy Feminist literature, but it isn't the best. Several of the essays seem to draw on forever, but others are simply incredible. Perhaps my favorite essay, "Hooking Up with Healthy Sexuality: The Lessons Boys Learn (and Don't Learn) About Sexuality, and Why a Sex-Positive Rape Prevention Paradigm Can Benefit Everyone Involved...," was written by Brad Perry. I enjoy reading about rape, sex, and gender relations form a male perspective because I am bombarded with I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoy Feminist literature, but it isn't the best. Several of the essays seem to draw on forever, but others are simply incredible. Perhaps my favorite essay, "Hooking Up with Healthy Sexuality: The Lessons Boys Learn (and Don't Learn) About Sexuality, and Why a Sex-Positive Rape Prevention Paradigm Can Benefit Everyone Involved...," was written by Brad Perry. I enjoy reading about rape, sex, and gender relations form a male perspective because I am bombarded with the female feminist perspective. Perry argues that he had unrealistic expectations of sex and "the game," which is of course the only way men can obtain sex. Perry explains that as he evolves as a person he develops a better understanding of sex and rape. He then moves onto abstinence only education, which was entertaining as always. Another awesome essay, "The Not-Rape Epidemic...," written by Latoya Peterson. This essay expressed the dangers in our culture of the "non-rapes." These experiences permeate many people who recognize that it wasn't rape, and thus he/she is lucky, and should just deal with it. Peterson detailed experiences not only of her own, but of many of her friends. She goes onto say that in retrospect one can identify what had happened, but at the time he/she is just so thankful that it wasn't worse that reporting or even speaking about it aloud didn't register. Only until after it was too late for others did she personally think that she should have said something.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kate Gould

    This is one of the most exciting, stimulating, and intelligent books I've ever read. I had so many "f*ck yeah" moments reading it. I'd recommend it to every woman and to every man who wants to know what makes us tick. This is one of the most exciting, stimulating, and intelligent books I've ever read. I had so many "f*ck yeah" moments reading it. I'd recommend it to every woman and to every man who wants to know what makes us tick.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Dalyn

    I liked this book quite a lot, as evidenced by the rating I gave it. I do recommend it. I thought it was a really thought-provoking, thoughtful collection of ideas and topics. But none of that is what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about is what I didn't like about it, which, for me, overshadowed everything I did like. First off, let me say: sex positivity is great. Enthusiastic consent is great. Better sex education is great. It's all great, and all something we should work towar I liked this book quite a lot, as evidenced by the rating I gave it. I do recommend it. I thought it was a really thought-provoking, thoughtful collection of ideas and topics. But none of that is what I want to talk about here. What I want to talk about is what I didn't like about it, which, for me, overshadowed everything I did like. First off, let me say: sex positivity is great. Enthusiastic consent is great. Better sex education is great. It's all great, and all something we should work toward and fight for. But it upsets me how often people discussing that everyone should have as much sex as they like fail to even mention that having no sex at all is also a valid option. Hardly anyone ever bothers to flip that coin over and talk about the other side. That other side exists. That other side, speaking personally, is pretty damn sick of not getting a seat in the conversation. That other side just wants to be counted, included, acknowledged. Given how hard it is to realize you're asexual or aromantic in this oversexualized, romantic-idealized world, it makes me grind my teeth to see people who supposedly know a lot about this subject leaving it out. What they aren't saying is so loud between the lines of what they are saying that it makes it difficult for me to pay attention to what they are saying. It's very hard for me to think about all the good points these writers are making when I'm being irritated at being left out (once again). And ignoring asexuality diminished everything else in this book. In a way, it ruined it for me. It poisoned it. And it didn't have to be that way, which is probably the most frustrating part. In one of the essays (Shame is the First Betrayer by Toni Amato), the author listed the A in LGBTQIA+ as standing for "allies." Reading that, that vile exclusion that feels to me like it could only be intentional, my head physically reared back like I'd been slapped. I felt it in my chest, having my identity ripped out of the conversation. I considered stopping reading this book then and there, and I had to set it down for a few days before I felt better enough about it to go on. And it's not fair to hold the other authors who contributed to this book accountable for the shameful, harmful ignorance of one, but it's certainly not fair to be cut out of this. Particularly when aces are already cut out of so much so often, and spend so much time with our identity under siege, and it's hard for me not to feel that these authors should know better. They should know better. They should do better. This is the second book in a month that I was reading and really enjoying that was ruined for me by people's disgusting ignorance and exclusion. (Should you be interested, the other one was Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights by Katha Pollitt, who seems to believe that people who don't get to have sex are "unlucky." Thanks, once more, for ignoring me.) And it wasn't just that one essay. Several other essays were riddled with little digs at aces; one went so far as to utter that dreary cliche of sexual desire and sex being "natural human urges/experiences." Cool. Sure. Love being told my experiences don't count. I don't really have anything else to add here except that no one can rightly have this (vital and necessary) conversation about sex and sexual desire without including EVERY part of the topic. If your so-called progress is harming a group of people, if it isn't progress for everyone, what is the point? We all need to do better. I am so tired of this and I am so unwilling to settle for this sub-par, exclusionary discussion. Get it together, people, and do the fuck better.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    I suppose I should clarify why I gave this book such a crap rating. There is NOTHING in here about sex, consent and disability; for a book that's supposed to be "intersectional," that is a problem. In sum: "female sexual power and a world without rape" is only important for able-bodied women, I guess? I suppose I should clarify why I gave this book such a crap rating. There is NOTHING in here about sex, consent and disability; for a book that's supposed to be "intersectional," that is a problem. In sum: "female sexual power and a world without rape" is only important for able-bodied women, I guess?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Online

    RAGE OF CONSENT Veronica I. Arreola Review of Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape Edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti Seal Press Utopian novels have grappled with the idea of a world without rape, but what would the path to that world look like? The controversial essays that make up Yes Means Yes! light the way along this very rough road and, not surprisingly, offer no easy solutions. The book itself was conceived in controversy. A report on Women’s eNews a RAGE OF CONSENT Veronica I. Arreola Review of Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape Edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti Seal Press Utopian novels have grappled with the idea of a world without rape, but what would the path to that world look like? The controversial essays that make up Yes Means Yes! light the way along this very rough road and, not surprisingly, offer no easy solutions. The book itself was conceived in controversy. A report on Women’s eNews about underage women who risked rape by frequenting party bars generated an explosion in the blogosphere. The onus should be on the rapist, furious critics wrote, not on the women who are raped. Feminist activists Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti responded by asking writers for submissions for Yes Means Yes!, which they promised would “fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex.” They wanted essays that would offer “a frank and in-depth conversation about forward-thinking ways to battle the rape culture,” and hoped contributors would help readers “imagine a world where women enjoy sex on their own terms and aren’t shamed for it…where men treat their sexual partners as collaborators, not conquests…[and:] where rape is rare and swiftly punished.” The enthusiastic response resulted in an anthology that moves the concept of consent and positive female sexuality to a new level. Its essayists ask why our society doesn’t teach its girls how to find pleasure, why women don’t define for themselves the meaning of virginity and why those who are assaulted by friends or acquaintances often refuse to label the experience as rape, thus removing most responsibility from the man. The authors in this collection speak with authority and, unfortunately for some, from personal experience. Bitch magazine founder Lisa Jervis and Racialicious.com editor Latoya Peterson explore the guilt women feel after they are violated. Cristina Meztli Tzintzun outs herself as a feminist who took years to leave an abusive relationship and hopes she can give others the courage to admit that even radical, kick-ass feminists who know better can have a hard time breaking the cycle of violence. Fat-acceptance blogger Kate Harding argues that society sells the idea that rape should be considered a compliment to fat or ugly women. We learn that women’s acquiescence, silence and shame allow rapists to get away with the sexual intimidation that Peterson labels “not-rape.” We’re told that date rape has a new moniker— “gray rape”—which rape apologists blame on “miscommunication” or “crossed signals” or even (gasp!) feminism because feminism has promoted women’s sexual freedom. It speaks volumes that in the 21st century we still need this anthology to explain whose fault it is when a young woman who agrees to make out with her boyfriend ends up raped. --- VERONICA I. ARREOLA is director of the University of Illinois at ChicagoWomen in Science and Engineering Program by day and a feminist mommyblogger at vivalafeminista.com by night.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    I had really high expectations for this book, as it seemed to touch on a lot of issues that I have been thinking about recently. And unfortunately, what I read of it (admittedly, only about half the essays) didn't quite meet those expectations...as Lisa mentions in her review, if you're fairly familiar with feminist thought, some of the material will seem like more of a review than a radical new way of thinking about things. HOWEVER, there were two essays that stuck out to me and that I would hi I had really high expectations for this book, as it seemed to touch on a lot of issues that I have been thinking about recently. And unfortunately, what I read of it (admittedly, only about half the essays) didn't quite meet those expectations...as Lisa mentions in her review, if you're fairly familiar with feminist thought, some of the material will seem like more of a review than a radical new way of thinking about things. HOWEVER, there were two essays that stuck out to me and that I would highly recommend: one on using BDSM (specifically rape fantasy) to subvert and resist rape culture (which I'm interested in particularly because I am skeptical, still) and the second on body sovereignty and asserting our right to give and receive consent for ALL kinds of touch, including the touch that is generally perceived to be non-sexual (ie, hugs). This second essay helped me find words for what had previously only been difficult-to-express feelings, which reminded me of what I liked about critical theory in the first place. Lastly, I remember (it's actually been a while since I returned this to the library) really appreciating how the anthology is organized thematically, with cross-references that reflect an understanding of intersectionality. Instead of dividing the essays into themed sections, each essay is given multiple themes ("the right is wrong," "media matters," "is consent complicated?" to name a few) and at the end of each essay, the editors suggest other essays that address the same themes. simple, but so helpful!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    A well-curated collections of essays about rape, abuse, and sexual consent, "Yes Means Yes" contains a variety of different perspectives and voices. Some of the essays contradict other ones; I disagreed with some authors' points while finding others' persuasive and illuminating. I found highlights of the book included Margaret Cho's honest and assertive foreward, Julia Serano's proposals for changing male culture to discourage rape, numerous authors' calls for the cultural replacement of stressi A well-curated collections of essays about rape, abuse, and sexual consent, "Yes Means Yes" contains a variety of different perspectives and voices. Some of the essays contradict other ones; I disagreed with some authors' points while finding others' persuasive and illuminating. I found highlights of the book included Margaret Cho's honest and assertive foreward, Julia Serano's proposals for changing male culture to discourage rape, numerous authors' calls for the cultural replacement of stressing refusal-as-rape with enthusiastic-yes-as-consent, Kate Harding's touching and hilarious essay on body image and culture, the illuminating interview with three sex workers about their work, Coco Fusco's article about sexual intimidation as an interrogation tactic, and Brad Perry's essay about how he stumbled as a teen before learning about consent. Each essay is assigned to a variety of categories, with more suggestions provided afterwards about further reading within the book for those interested in a particular topic. While I thought this was an interesting, helpful idea, I didn't find it all that useful, and enjoyed the variety and natural progression of reading the book from start to end.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    For a book - and a movement - that touts intersectionality, "Yes Means Yes!," a tour de force of writing talents ranging from WOC lesbians to straight trans and so on, completely ignores conservative and religious feminists. Yes, we exist! In fact, "Yes Means Yes!" reads more as a list of grievances against the Right Wing - who, according to the editors and authors, is completely made up of white religious men - with the authors of the essays roundly lambasting a straw-man version of conservative For a book - and a movement - that touts intersectionality, "Yes Means Yes!," a tour de force of writing talents ranging from WOC lesbians to straight trans and so on, completely ignores conservative and religious feminists. Yes, we exist! In fact, "Yes Means Yes!" reads more as a list of grievances against the Right Wing - who, according to the editors and authors, is completely made up of white religious men - with the authors of the essays roundly lambasting a straw-man version of conservative ideology. That's a crying shame, because some of what the writers had to say was good, hard-hitting, realistic stuff - but it was couched in such hateful, one-sided rhetoric that it turned even me off, and I consider myself very feminist, despite my identity as a "Right Wing religious nut who hates women." Overall, a good idea, timely, but alienating.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Meggan

    As if humanity needed more evidence for a second sexual revolution. Just skim a few pages and you'll want to volunteer down at your local rape crisis center or Planned Parenthood. While I value this book for its bravery, I see two big flaws here: 1) too much focus on westernized American feminists, and 2) some essays reads like one long blog entry (I prefer empirical research over blog comments for evidence/arguments). But I understand that academia is too slow to wade into the swiftly moving de As if humanity needed more evidence for a second sexual revolution. Just skim a few pages and you'll want to volunteer down at your local rape crisis center or Planned Parenthood. While I value this book for its bravery, I see two big flaws here: 1) too much focus on westernized American feminists, and 2) some essays reads like one long blog entry (I prefer empirical research over blog comments for evidence/arguments). But I understand that academia is too slow to wade into the swiftly moving debates that are happening right now in the feminist blogosphere. Julia Serano has the best essay here, and I'm assigning it to my summer class. Can't wait to see how the students react to her transgendered take on heterosexuality!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chelsey

    There are several things to appreciate about this book--for instance, the fact that it exists. I'd be excited (and grateful!) to get recommendations for books that cover sexual violence (NOT Against Our Will, the person who wrote that needs to fully examine the implications of their thesis!-- in my humble opinion) as sensitively yet humorously as this book did. A second thing to appreciate is the diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. Related to this, the range of topics discussed is astound There are several things to appreciate about this book--for instance, the fact that it exists. I'd be excited (and grateful!) to get recommendations for books that cover sexual violence (NOT Against Our Will, the person who wrote that needs to fully examine the implications of their thesis!-- in my humble opinion) as sensitively yet humorously as this book did. A second thing to appreciate is the diversity of perspectives and backgrounds. Related to this, the range of topics discussed is astounding-- I was extremely pleased, for example, at the essay "When Pregnancy is Outlawed only Outlaws Will Be Pregnant" with its examination of how low-income, addicted women of color are persecuted unfairly regarding the law. Another favorite contribution is an essay which focuses on the sexual assault of immigrant women, and how feminist solutions for rape, centered on our perspectives on sexuality and on individuality, cannot help these women. Another refreshing thing was the how personal this book was-- the personalities of the authors shined through in even the most academic writings, and I felt intimately connected with people who shared their experiences and thoughts. Finally, though people may think of this as a disadvantage, I really like the fact that I can find most of these essays online! It makes it easy to point friends in the direction of good writing without having to lend out my book (kind of possessive of my books...) and poor college students can read about important issues without breaking the bank!E-books and book-readers be damned, I can't snuggle up to my laptop at night. And yet, while it's really difficult to want to criticize this work, I do have a few qualms. While Yes Means Yes lives up to its promise of demonstrating how sexual assault is connected with other oppressions, it offers little in the way of non-individualistic, real alternatives. This isn't to say that we should be telling other women to beg their senators to take rape seriously (we've been doing that for decades) but shouldn't we still be demanding sufficient sex ed (which is, thankfully, suggested) along with (more) public protections, like a guarantee that rape-kits will be tested, more publicly funded self-defense (which is not a solution, but until the revolution happens I'd like to know how to protect myself) along with officials declared AND demonstrating that ultimately the responsibility for rape belongs with rapists? It seems to me that politicians, in a non-superficial way, need to recognize that rape is a societal problem and needs to be tackled ways similar to how we (should) tackle other problems: with the involvement of a community, in a way not relegated to school curriculum (which can only be delivered to school-aged people-- an important population, but not the only population which needs to know these things). These issues do involve women, but the relegation of rape and violence against women into "women's issues" tackled only by women privately or in a very restricted public setting (unfairly, yes, but nevertheless) sort of renders the issues invisible. I understand that not having faith in politicians to understand and respond to "women's issues" is in itself a response to the failures of our political machine(ESPECIALLY when it comes to "women's issues") and a need for women, especially regarding these issues to lead this movement, but I don't think that means that these issues and their solutions should be a matter of sequestering them to sympathetic women's organizations which depend on donations or gratefully accept a pittance from governments. We should instead fight for our space in the political and personal realm and demand that rape be tackled not as some after-thought during the month of March, but as an issue as real and important as the economy, education, and healthcare-- it's certainly more real for more Americans than the threat of "terrorism" for instance, and in a real way, it IS a terror. How about we wage a "war" on rape? (Problems with waging a war against something which is ultimately violent aside, and assuming the it won't look anything like the war on drugs, that is...) How about politicos realize that wars often use rape as a tactic? While this was hinted at, it didn't come out as strong as I'd liked. In addition, essays, especially those near the end, often felt premature because they were finished too early. I mean, maybe in another life I was an English professor(and maybe this is why I have literary pretensions without actually knowing anything about literature!) but I really wanted to write EXPAND in red pen on a lot of these essays. Another thing that bothered me was the insistence that women declare that they want sex. Let me expand (:P): There is nothing in and of itself wrong with this message... except for the fact that women are told to want sex all of the time. Women are told THEY want sex, for themselves, all of the time. What's missing is the need for the desire to have sex to come, organically, from these women. And an equally important message to convey is, it's also perfectly fine and natural for you to not desire sex (with another). Yes, most people like to share things that feel good with others, asexuality is rare, and this message needs to be conveys carefully because women have often been rendered asexual, but it still needs to be conveyed. I just don't know if, "It is normal for women to desire sex and we should be able to act on that desire!" is the primary answer to this in a society that pressures and bombards women with images of (unhealthy) sexualities. This came out in some essays, too, but not nearly as much as I'd like. Also, if you're going to attempt to mirror the whole hyperlinking thing in your book, you should probably actually, um, hyperlink (like, include the freaking PAGE NUMBER, and not just the essay title). Yes, this is a superficial criticism, and doesn't apply to my experience because I read the work cover-to-cover, but flipping back to the ToC to find the page number to an essay is not fun. The writers include a table indexed by topic with page numbers in the back of the work, but that is equally inconvenient!) And er, this isn't really a criticism, and maybe this relates to the fact that this book focuses on rape which presumes two parties, but there was a surprising dearth of essays on masturbation and how it can be both healing and frustrating for women who have been assaulted. While this would be one of those individualistic solutions (which aren't bad in and of themselves, it just sucks when those are the majority of the solutions) it's still worth exploring (In depth! NOT merely mentioned!). After all, what is sexual liberation if you still depend on another person?

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tinea

    This was really good. Yes Means Yes is an anthology of essays on rape culture, consent, and related topics. I was really impressed by how broad the subject area covered was. An incomplete list: the book contains articles on reproductive justice, virginity, sex education, surviving abuse, and intersections of sexualized violence with race, class, sexual orientation, size, gender, and immigration status. The authors come from a wide range of backgrounds and ground their essays in varied unique pers This was really good. Yes Means Yes is an anthology of essays on rape culture, consent, and related topics. I was really impressed by how broad the subject area covered was. An incomplete list: the book contains articles on reproductive justice, virginity, sex education, surviving abuse, and intersections of sexualized violence with race, class, sexual orientation, size, gender, and immigration status. The authors come from a wide range of backgrounds and ground their essays in varied unique perspectives and experiences. Several pieces looked at underlying causes of rape culture and it was interesting the ways the authors' different identities and politics led them to different and at times conflicting conclusions. My favorite essay was "An Immodest Proposal" by Heather Corinna. Corinna's proposal is that narratives of sex in mainstream US culture, and especially narratives of early and virginal sex, are missing a fundamental ingredient: female desire. The ideal high school virginity-loss story includes safer sex, consent (though not "enthusiastic consent"), and commitment. It is based on the male initiator/ female gatekeeper model. Male orgasm is assumed; the male sexual cycle, from turn on to hard on to penetration and orgasm, frames the act. Girls, however, are taught to expect pain and blood. A good first time minimizes the pain. But what about maximizing the pleasure? In a later essay, author Cristina Meztli Tzintzun explains how the above "ideal first time" narrative makes it difficult for people who are being abused to identify their abuse and get out of it. When pain and disinterest are expected from the best case scenario of women's sexuality, how can we tell when we've fallen into coercion and abuse? Is there much of a difference? Creating a culture in which enthusiastic consent from all participating parties is a baseline for sexual interaction would alter this narrative. It wouldn't end abuse, as articles like "When Sexual Autonomy Isn't Enough" by Miriam Perez, about power dynamics faced by immigrant and undocumented women, clearly show. But it would help change our culture from one where abuse is nearly an expectation to one in which sexual abuse can be more readily seen for what it is: abuse of power. Drawbacks to "Yes Means Yes" came in its hesitations. Strong essays like "The Not-Rape Epidemic" by Latoya Petersen (available online) pushed against society's unfair and illogical definitions of rape and assault, but pulled back when it came to solutions. This particular articles ends with tired safety prescriptions for girls. Where's the outrage? Where's the systemic change, the finger pointed at the culprits? Worse were the few essays written for and about the male perspective. By "male perspective," I mean perpetrator or potential perpetrator perspective, not that of male survivors, which I don't remember being represented here. Discussions of male social pressures and "double binds" (the asshole/nice guy equivalent to women's virgin/whore stereotype), though useful and interesting, neglected power. Go ahead and write me off as a ball-crushing feminazi, but unless prescriptions for changes to male sexuality include a redistribution of sexual and gendered power (and all other kinds for that matter, as applicable), I'm not particularly interested. Overall: I'd love for y'all to read this book so we can talk about it.

  17. 5 out of 5

    tom bomp

    My biggest problem with this book is that a lot of the essays don't really push into the visions promised by the title - they're to a large extent descriptions of what the authors have experienced. This is obviously valuable, but I guess I expected a bit more given the title and the wide availability of many different people's experiences on the internet that this to a certain extent replicates. Also, only a few essays linked the problems described to causes past a nebulous "culture" and to thin My biggest problem with this book is that a lot of the essays don't really push into the visions promised by the title - they're to a large extent descriptions of what the authors have experienced. This is obviously valuable, but I guess I expected a bit more given the title and the wide availability of many different people's experiences on the internet that this to a certain extent replicates. Also, only a few essays linked the problems described to causes past a nebulous "culture" and to things like capitalism. This isn't to say the book is bad. The vast majority of essays are good and a couple are great. I think this would be an excellent introduction to the topic and I do think it's worth a read - some of the stuff here made me think more even though I've been engaging with these ideas for a while. I'll mention one of the early essays though that stood out as particularly bad. It talks about women in jobs where they're treated pretty much as sexual objects. Yet it didn't mention the economic conditions that force them there and even though it quoted a model who talked about the ways in which her job was "empowering" - or at least less degrading than assumed - it didn't engage at all. Her final conclusion, as a self described "young professional in New York", was that all these people should quit their jobs. Incredible. The stand out essay of the collection is "The Not Rape Epidemic" by Latoya Peterson. I read it on the internet before I found the book and it's an absolutely harrowing, deeply affecting essay that actually made me sit up and take note of how incredibly fucked up our rape culture is. I was numb for several hours. I recommend reading it if you can deal with it. It's incredible. http://www.racialicious.com/2008/12/2...

  18. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Love, Love, LOVE this book. It reinforced again and again concepts that I have argued for time and again in the past, and sincerely hope will become second-nature in the future: -Rape is caused by Rapists. Period. There's nothing that you do to cause yourself to be raped. -Girls and young women should be taught that their sexual desires are normal, and that both YES and NO are valid responses to the sex question. -An "absence of no" shouldn't be the baseline for sexual encounters-- an "enthusiasti Love, Love, LOVE this book. It reinforced again and again concepts that I have argued for time and again in the past, and sincerely hope will become second-nature in the future: -Rape is caused by Rapists. Period. There's nothing that you do to cause yourself to be raped. -Girls and young women should be taught that their sexual desires are normal, and that both YES and NO are valid responses to the sex question. -An "absence of no" shouldn't be the baseline for sexual encounters-- an "enthusiastic yes" should be required. I was surprised by the breadth of contributions in this anthology and I thoroughly enjoyed hearing a number of different authors' voices all imagining the same thing: a world where a woman's sexuality is valued just as much as a man's.

  19. 5 out of 5

    6655321

    like, there is a 1:1 correlation in this book: is the article by a WOC? then it among the best in this book. The rest is just... largely boring, repetitive,overly optimistic, etc. and it was almost unbearable to work through the fucking thing, especially the naive sex positive parts...

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    This is a wonderful anthology full of a wide range of essays. I liked some more than others, but overall it's a great book. This is a wonderful anthology full of a wide range of essays. I liked some more than others, but overall it's a great book.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Alex

    Easily the best book I've read this year, if not ever. Yes Means Yes! is an anthology of essays from women and trans folks (and a few men) of all backgrounds, white, black, Latina, Asian, poor, affluent, queer, hetero, sex workers, dominatrices, bloggers, organizers, educators, artists, and survivors, all answering the question, "How can we create a world without rape?" This book more than any other opened my eyes to the central importance of female sexual power to movement for progressive social Easily the best book I've read this year, if not ever. Yes Means Yes! is an anthology of essays from women and trans folks (and a few men) of all backgrounds, white, black, Latina, Asian, poor, affluent, queer, hetero, sex workers, dominatrices, bloggers, organizers, educators, artists, and survivors, all answering the question, "How can we create a world without rape?" This book more than any other opened my eyes to the central importance of female sexual power to movement for progressive social change. Through dissecting sexual assault and "rape culture" from ALL angles, the writers articulate that the objectification and control of female bodies is literally the cornerstone of patriarchal society. Therefore efforts to reclaim female body sovereignty and sexual power are at the forefront of revolutionary change. This book does not just offer women tips on how to avoid sexual assault (although it does encourage self-defense classes!), it courageously directs blame at the male-dominated society that puts women in dangerous situations on a daily basis. Similarly, as should be obvious from the title, this work is not just about teaching men to respect "No", but showing women (all people really) how to love their bodies and embrace their sexuality, in whatever way it manifests. Enthusiastic consent, responding to "Yes!" and cautious "Maybes", and taking things one step at a time without assumptions or feelings of entitlement to orgasm, while respecting the ability of a sexual partner to say "Stop." at any moment, shows a way to the best and most liberatory sex. But the book covers so much more than consent. This is a feminist handbook for the masses: well-written, varied, practical, theoretical, yet accessible. It's hard to pick a favorite essay, but the one that spoke to me the most was "Killing Misogyny: A Personal Story of Love, Violence, and Strategies for Survival" by Cristina Meztli Tzintún, a personal story about overcoming abusive and controlling male partners. Cristina relates how she got involved with a "radical, feminist" man of color and bonded through activism. Before she knew it she was years into an abusive relationship that gave her STDs and an inability to leave him, despite his cheating on her with his students, half his age. The pattern mirrored her parents' disastrous marriage, which made it even more depressing that she could not break free of the cycle of abuse. While it's easy to demonize her partner, Alan, a more honest reading will recognize some of his patterns in each of us who have been male-socialized. For example, entitlement to women's bodies and lack of consideration for the emotional damage wrought by selfish actions are things I know I have to struggle against. Cristina's bravery in leaving Alan and demanding accountability for his assaults should encourage all of us, that misogyny can in fact be beaten and that personal transformation is an incredibly political act. I can't recommend this collection highly enough. Everyone needs to read this book.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    I picked this up after reading Jaclyn Friedman's What You Really, Really Want: A Smart Girl's Shame Free Guide to Sex and Safety. The title was catchy and made me think "Is it possible to have a world without rape?". At first, when I found out how the authors suggested I read the book via the list of recommended titles at the end based on the themes, I was a little sceptical as I am quite a routine person who reads things cover to cover. But I tried it and surprisingly it was a fun and unique way I picked this up after reading Jaclyn Friedman's What You Really, Really Want: A Smart Girl's Shame Free Guide to Sex and Safety. The title was catchy and made me think "Is it possible to have a world without rape?". At first, when I found out how the authors suggested I read the book via the list of recommended titles at the end based on the themes, I was a little sceptical as I am quite a routine person who reads things cover to cover. But I tried it and surprisingly it was a fun and unique way to read the various stories and articles. I would not call this an anthology exactly but it seems more like a collection of essays and articles. I enjoyed all of the stories I read during the first half. It had to do with not only content in the story but writing style and tone. For those which I did not enjoy as much, I still appreciated the messages they shared but I just could not vibe the style of writing. This books encompasses the landscape of United States of America but even though I do not live there, I could still relate to what I read like not feeling like an individual could speak up, feeling scared that they would be judged and laughed at. Some of the things I read, I felt uncomfortable with but I think that is normal and everyone is different. So many of the stories talk about female sexual autonomy and it is a concept that I found hard to envision but I liked it. It felt nice to finally have in my hands a book that discusses things that usually are not talked about and avoided. To have answers to my questions, "Why is it like this?", "Why do I feel this way?". I particularly liked that even though this book focuses on females, there are also perspectives into minority groups like African American women, immigrant women, sex workers, LGBTQ individuals and also the prejudices that come to mind when we hear about females abusing males. Until recently it was very hard for me to believe that a man could be raped, I always thought that only women could be victims of rape. I found it interesting to get a point of view of a Trans woman who can see from both the perspectives of a man and woman. Why do women seem so attracted to bad boys. This trope is so apparent in fiction especially young adult and it annoys me. I found that this book helped me become aware of things that were unconscious to me and why they came about. I liked that I was able to see from new perspectives and this book does a good job of representing many groups. Not everyone will be open and supportive of what this book stands for. Some are not ready to have their views challenged, others need more evidence to be convinced and have misconceptions on what feminism stands for. I can see that there is still alot of work to be done but this is a great way to open minds and conversations. To be clear, I did not rate this a 3 stars because of the content because I applaud what was shared in this book but I judge it base on the book as a whole and take into consideration content, writing style, ease of reading and how much I enjoyed each story.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Caty

    I really expected more from a book that claimed to be putting the yes and pleasure back into consent. I've been disgusted with the liberal rape crisis movement for years in the way it polices people's fantasies and sexualities for healthy or unhealthy (do you like BDSM? You're just reliving your trauma; try to condition yourself to get off by imagining a refreshing waterfall instead--that's bullshit is straight from _The Courage to Heal_, the movement's bible, by the way) and how it looks down o I really expected more from a book that claimed to be putting the yes and pleasure back into consent. I've been disgusted with the liberal rape crisis movement for years in the way it polices people's fantasies and sexualities for healthy or unhealthy (do you like BDSM? You're just reliving your trauma; try to condition yourself to get off by imagining a refreshing waterfall instead--that's bullshit is straight from _The Courage to Heal_, the movement's bible, by the way) and how it looks down on sex workers as abused victims--yup, you got it--Reenacting Their Abuse. Yet the whoraphobia still steams off the page in some of these essays. Check out the $pread magazine review of the book in issue 4.4. It picks some choice quotes from Javacia N Harris' essay--"just b/c someone loves what they're doing, does that mean they're not being exploited?" That's right, Ms. Harris, we're all brainwashed, happy slaves. "...portraying a woman's body and sexuality as merchandise [makes it:] easier to demand, even force, a woman to give you her body...". As the $pread reviewer, Monica Shores points out, "the attitude that commercialized sex contributes to rape is an old and ugly trope that has never proven true." Then there's Thomas MacAulay Millar's piece, full of academic language and critical theory pretensions, that proposes that the commodity model of sex be replaced by a performative one, as Shores says, "apparently unaware that sex workers of all stripes have for years pointed to the fundamentally performative aspects of their jobs...Sex, in fact, is often made highly performative when it's commoditized; prevalent acronyms like GFE and PSE attest to that." There are some good moments, like Jaclyn Friedman's piece, which declares her right to be irresponsible and still be free from attack. But for the most part, what didn't recapitulate insulting old second wave attitudes just read like obvious, boring third wave sex positive feminism 101--nothing new. The fact that Bitch magazine enthusiastically reviewed the work shows that mainstream feminists often fail to be sex worker allies they claim to be.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Rereading this for the reading group. ... First Reading: I'm so sad to be done with this book. I mean, I'm totally glad that I finished it and read the awesome essays at the end (Higginbotham, Kulwicki) that I was missing when I got distracted 2/3 of the way through, but I'm sad that there's no more for me to read. Okay, there were a fair number of essays that were just sort of mediocre and which trolled through stuff that i'm heard ad nauseum (Valenti, Filipovic, Jervis)*. And there were the few es Rereading this for the reading group. ... First Reading: I'm so sad to be done with this book. I mean, I'm totally glad that I finished it and read the awesome essays at the end (Higginbotham, Kulwicki) that I was missing when I got distracted 2/3 of the way through, but I'm sad that there's no more for me to read. Okay, there were a fair number of essays that were just sort of mediocre and which trolled through stuff that i'm heard ad nauseum (Valenti, Filipovic, Jervis)*. And there were the few essays that made me enraged (Blanke, Harris)**. HOWEVER there were so many essays that were so flipping FANTASTIC that I feel that the collection overall is the best thing I've read all year. Essays not to be missed: Towards a Performance Model of Sex (Millar) How Do You Fuck a Fat Woman? (Harding) What It Feels Like When It Finally Comes: Surviving Incest in Real Life (Piepzna-Samarasinha) A Love Letter From an Anti-Rape Activist to her Feminist Sex Toy Store (Riggs) When Sexual Autonomy Isn't Enough: Sexual Violence Against Immigrant Women in the United States (Perez) Reclaiming Touch: Rape Culture, Explicit Verbal Consent, and Body Sovereignty (Troost) An Immodest Proposal (Corinna) Why Nice Guys Finish Last (Serano) Sex Worth Fighting For (Higginbotham) Real Sex Education (Kulwicki) *Not that I don't think that these authors' works are important. I think they're all pretty awesome. I've just heard what they're saying A LOT. **Blanke: wtf with this attitude of being the enlightened feminist academe who is going to report back on the doings of these crazy uneducated supposedly-feminist wayward youth? Harris: Way to be all judgmental and "my feminism is better than your feminism."

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Jackson

    When I began Yes Means Yes I anticipated a discussion on the political and social aspects of sexual assault in our current society and all the ways rape culture and sex-negative culture affects us. It's not quite what I got. While the book — which I read online here — does talk about ways to empower women, to keep women safe, to expand discussions on safe sexual education or activity, it seemed mostly self-serving to those who wrote the essays within it and who apparently just wanted to have a s When I began Yes Means Yes I anticipated a discussion on the political and social aspects of sexual assault in our current society and all the ways rape culture and sex-negative culture affects us. It's not quite what I got. While the book — which I read online here — does talk about ways to empower women, to keep women safe, to expand discussions on safe sexual education or activity, it seemed mostly self-serving to those who wrote the essays within it and who apparently just wanted to have a soapbox to talk about their sexual experiences and what lessons they learned from it. I read and enjoyed Jessica Valenti's book The Purity Myth, which actually came out after this essay compilation did, and I was hoping this book would be up to the same standards; that is, infuriate me. Instead, it bored me, and I couldn't get to the end quickly enough. The essays talk about sexual assault, sexual consent, sexual diversity, sexual openness, all the things that come along with healthy sexual relationships, and there are some real zingers in this book, some outstanding lines or full essays that induced the reaction in me that I was hoping for. But for the most part this book was tedious and repetitive, and I think it would be far more effective if these authors published their own work separately under related concepts rather than trying to include everything together in this book. Yes Means Yes has a loose theme, but some authors clearly just threw in some nonsense about sexual power to make their essays connect even when they really didn't. This is not a book I would read again, despite the topic being important to me and vital for encouraging safety and empowerment for women.

  26. 5 out of 5

    AB

    Yes Means Yes is a great anthology incorporating a number of perspectives and analysis on rape culture, including but not limited to persons of color, survivors, trans people and queers. It is mostly focused on American culture, but it's still a relevant text since damaging campaigns like the Silver Ring Thing expanded their remit well past the US of A. The essays are as varied in their topic and approach as their contributors, but the underlying theme is that a model of enthusiastic consent woul Yes Means Yes is a great anthology incorporating a number of perspectives and analysis on rape culture, including but not limited to persons of color, survivors, trans people and queers. It is mostly focused on American culture, but it's still a relevant text since damaging campaigns like the Silver Ring Thing expanded their remit well past the US of A. The essays are as varied in their topic and approach as their contributors, but the underlying theme is that a model of enthusiastic consent would help foster a more mature form of sexuality and help reduce rape in all its forms. The variety of viewpoints in display is fantastic, with great diversity of sexual orientation, gender, size, class and race represented and given a non-tokenistic voice. The quality of essays varies. Some can be a bit lacking, but all have a solid core of sexual positivity and a hope for a better future of empowered sexuality. To finish up, I recommend this book to all feminists, anyone interested in sexual politics, and especially people working on sex education. A note on the structure of the book: The book is composed of a series of essays, but since many of the authors originate in the blogosphere, there is a little innovation added. Each essay is given a number of categories, like one would in a blog. At the end of the essay, these categories are listed alongside the title and page number of other essays in the same category. The idea is that one can read the book according to interest. I felt this was a refreshing concept, although ultimately it became confusing when I was trying to pick up where I left off. Eventually I simply read the whole thing from start to finish.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Genesis

    I'm confused about this book. I think it could've been great but it just isn't. Some of this essays are fucking awesome and eye opening but then you have some others that make you go: wtf, this has nothing to do with this book. nonetheless, here are my favorite excerpts: - ...Rape victims are almost always depicted as female, despite the fact that one in thirty-three MEN will survive sexual assault. - Feminists insist that men are not animals. Instead, men are rational human beings fully capable of I'm confused about this book. I think it could've been great but it just isn't. Some of this essays are fucking awesome and eye opening but then you have some others that make you go: wtf, this has nothing to do with this book. nonetheless, here are my favorite excerpts: - ...Rape victims are almost always depicted as female, despite the fact that one in thirty-three MEN will survive sexual assault. - Feminists insist that men are not animals. Instead, men are rational human beings fully capable of listening to their partners and understanding that sex isn’t about pushing someone to do something they don’t want to do. - Feminism and anti-rape activism challenge the dominant narrative that women’s bodies aren’t our own, they insist that sex is about consent and enjoyment, not violence and harm, and they attack a power structure that sees women as victims and men as predators. - If someone tries to take something and the owner raises no objection, then that something is free for the taking. To this way of thinking, consent is the absence of “no.” - ...an absence of “no” isn’t enough—“yes” should be the baseline requirement. - “consent” at its best can be about more than just “yes” or “no.” It means not taking the “yes” for granted, as well as getting to know the reasons behind the “yes” - “sex when someone doesn’t openly and enthusiastically want it is wrong.” - it' important ...teaching boys (in sex education classes and through legal standards) that forcing a woman to have sex with you is rape. because many - firmly believe “no” means “try harder "

  28. 5 out of 5

    Van

    This is by far the most enlightening, educational and informative book I've ever read on the topics of rape, sexuality, consent, masculinity, femininity, gender, pleasure, incest, dating, love, misogyny, birth, pregnancy, female empowerment, and trauma, many of which are tied to each other, or race and/or class. I personally loved that it was a collection of essays grouped together by theme; I followed the "jumping around" throughout the book that Friedman and Valenti encouraged-I didn't read fr This is by far the most enlightening, educational and informative book I've ever read on the topics of rape, sexuality, consent, masculinity, femininity, gender, pleasure, incest, dating, love, misogyny, birth, pregnancy, female empowerment, and trauma, many of which are tied to each other, or race and/or class. I personally loved that it was a collection of essays grouped together by theme; I followed the "jumping around" throughout the book that Friedman and Valenti encouraged-I didn't read from start to finish, moreso by essay to essay. Most of the essays are definitely worth it; I had been apprehensive of the book because Jessica Valenti/feministing turn me off sometimes but I'm happy that I went ahead and bought this at a local used bookstore and read it. (Margaret Cho's introduction is also well worth the read). If you have any initial desire to read this book, you're probably already headed in the more open-minded (I'd say right, also) and progressive direction, and also know what you're getting into. Pick this book up and you won't be disappointed, I assure you.

  29. 4 out of 5

    kasia

    It is curious - and hard to explain - how dated a lot of this feels, despite arguably being just as relevant now as it was 8 years ago. Maybe because so many of the essays reference current events or politicians, clearly marking them as emerging from a specific moment, or maybe because the way these conversations are had has changed, or maybe a little bit of both. Nonetheless, there are a handful of essays here that I think will be useful teaching tools. It would be interesting to see what an up It is curious - and hard to explain - how dated a lot of this feels, despite arguably being just as relevant now as it was 8 years ago. Maybe because so many of the essays reference current events or politicians, clearly marking them as emerging from a specific moment, or maybe because the way these conversations are had has changed, or maybe a little bit of both. Nonetheless, there are a handful of essays here that I think will be useful teaching tools. It would be interesting to see what an updated version of the collection would look like.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Natalie

    Having now completed this, I find that I have pretty mixed feelings about the whole thing (hence the 3 star rating). Some of these essays were absolutely phenomenal and really spoke to me and just seemed to IMPORTANT and well thought out and just amazing all around. But others either just went completely over my head, felt unfinished, or were just "meh". I do have to congratulate the editors of this essay compilation however, because this "mixed bag" of essays from different authors really cover Having now completed this, I find that I have pretty mixed feelings about the whole thing (hence the 3 star rating). Some of these essays were absolutely phenomenal and really spoke to me and just seemed to IMPORTANT and well thought out and just amazing all around. But others either just went completely over my head, felt unfinished, or were just "meh". I do have to congratulate the editors of this essay compilation however, because this "mixed bag" of essays from different authors really cover some incredibly difficult topics and a wide range of feminist topics and anti-rape topics. We've got essays covering the abstinence movement, the "virgin vs. whore" dynamic, the importance of "enthusiastic consent" (and not just a lack of "no"), being queer or a woman of colour of a female that's not conventionally beautiful or "skinny" enough, surviving incest, human trafficking and the issues that immigrant women often face in regards to their own sexuality - and even their right to reproduce, and even an essay covering "the lessons that boys learn" and how the fight to stop rape shouldn't rely entirely on the shoulders of women. There are just so many different and difficult topics that while I think it's an important read, it's by no means an EASY one. These topics are not pleasant, and the essays discussing them do not hold back. Having read these, I feel like I've learned some important information, but I did not come out of that book feeling "good" or like a weight was lifted. This just introduced so many more problems that I wasn't aware of ._.

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