Leftist commentary from a mouthy bitch

Review of Yes Means Yes (originally posted at CANOW)

The cover of Yes Means Yes.

The cover of Yes Means Yes.

This collection of essays edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti and published by Seal Press, is excellent.  I highly recommend it to women of all ages.  If you are old enough to make your own decisions about your sexuality, you should read this book.

The authors in this book discuss the need to take rape prevention and female empowerment past the “no means no” paradigm it’s inhabited for the last several years.  Instead of looking for the absence of no, people should strive for the enthusiastic YES!  And women should feel comfortable giving a “yes” if they really mean it, as well as a “no” if they don’t.

Now, in some cases, the essays do get a little repetitive and some of the writers appear to be so wrapped up in their particular scope, that they fail to realize that all women face the virgin/whore dichotomy, and suffer from it.  Apart from that minor repetition, I’ve found the book to be fascinating and insightful, from examining how women can be complicit in their own objectification, the arguments that engenders (which acts are empowering and which merely catering to the male gaze), the examination of how the screwed up gender roles of the West contributed to how female soldiers and MPs were used in places like Abu Ghraib and Guantanomo and the perceptions of those at home who followed the coverage, and an excellent essay on being both feminist and sexually submissive.

As someone whose sexuality is frequently problematic for other feminsts, and who spends an awful lot of time censoring herself in conversations both online and in real life (I can see you all rolling your eyes right about now, particularly after the last post), I really appreciate the tone of most, if not all, of the essays in this book.  I’ve had the conversations that engendered many of these essays.  Questions about “How can burlesque be empowering?” “How can you read/watch porn?”  “How can you do X (where X stands for various and sundry activities) and still call yourself a feminist?”

Feminism is about choices.  And this book is about one of the most fraught choices any woman will make in her life.  Sex, with whom, where, when, how much, what kind…  But what is most important, is that SHE have the ability to make those choices, freely and enthusiastically.

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This entry was posted on January 11, 2013 by in Featured Articles, Feminism, Fun, Posted at CANOW.org, Reviews.

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