Book review: Yes Means Yes!

Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti (2008).

Jaclyn Friedman is an American feminist writer and activist, a campus speaker on issues of healthy sexuality and anti-rape activism, and the founder and executive director of Women, Action & The Media (WAM!). Jessica Valenti is an American blogger and feminist writer, and founder of the Feministing blog. The book influenced California to enact a law in regards to how universities handle rape and sexual assault accusations. Comprising of 27 essays by various authors, the book explores creating a culture that
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values genuine female sexual pleasure. The essays are organized by themes and are tagged with keywords that link the essays thematically, meaning you needn’t read the book in chronological order or in its entirety. Yes Means Yes! centers on ideas of how society could better understand and respect female sexual pleasure, and how women should be able to enjoy sex and express their sexuality without shame or violence. Themes:

  • Electric Youth: how young people can develop healthy sexual identities
  • Fight the Power: control of women’s sexual autonomy
  • Here and Queer: acting on desires outside the hetero norm
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  • Is Consent Complicated?: beyond no means no, what does consent mean
  • Manliness: male sexuality
  • Media Matters: how the media affects how we define cultural beliefs about sex and rape
  • Much Taboo About Nothing: replacing myth and misunderstanding with power, pleasure and safety
  • Race Relating: women of colour
  • Sexual Healing: what would sexual culture look like without what’s presently wrong with it
  • Surviving to Yes: reclaiming sexual power after surviving sexual violence
  • The Right is Wrong: how the Religious Right wants to control women’s bodies

  Many of the essays I can’t relate to personally, but the ones I enjoyed in particular are: 3. Beyond yes or no: on communication and asking for what you want, and that consent is about communication 9. The fantasy of acceptable non-consent: from the perspective of a feminist submissive, addresses how easily-accessible mainstream porn depicting acts of BDSM to a non-informed and culturally unaware audience perpetrates rape culture 16: Hooking up with healthy sexuality: describes a healthy sex ed program for boys, including a sex-positive rape prevention program 23. Who’re you calling a whore?: misperceptions on sex work and the protection of sex workers, from the perspective of three sex workers 26. Real sex education: addresses how ignoring pleasure as a fundamental component of sex can be damaging,

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and that sexuality is natural and varied. Overall, I like how the book is organized, in that readers can skip over the essays they may not be interested in or may be triggering. It could be a fairly quick read depending on how many of the essays you choose to read, and the topics are relevant and worthy of discussion. Good: -variety of topics and perspectives -how it’s organized Not so good: -very U.S. centric -triggers Conclusion: well organized and presented Recommended for: those interested in broadening their perspective on affirmative consent and the issues that perpetuate rape culture

Check it out for yourself!

You can purchase Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape on Amazon by clicking this link! Written by SpecialLibrarian

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