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Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape Paperback – December 2, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Activists and writers Friedman and Valenti (He's a Stud, She's a Slut) deliver an extraordinary essay compilation focusing on the struggle to stop rape in the U.S. and the importance of sexual identity and ownership. Early on, Thomas MacAulay Millar and Rachel Kramer Bussel explain how the "no means no" concept (sexual consent equals the absence of no) must be rejected in favor of a "yes means yes" mentality: the idea that consent means affirmative participation in the act itself, a broader definition that better protects women while encouraging power over-not fear of-personal sexual identity. Other topics include body image and self-esteem issues as well as incest, the dangers faced by female immigrants and the public perception of rape; in "Trial by Media," Samhita Mukhopadhyay looks at the Duke Lacrosse rape case and finds the media acting in the tradition of slavery by commodifying the young, female African-American body. Though surprisingly entertaining throughout, with no shortage of wit or humor, unexpected topics (Friedman on enjoying sex, transsexual writer Julia Serano on the mixed cultural messages that lead "nice guys" to sexual aggression) keep the book dynamic. Sure to empower and inform, this is an important and inspiring read for assault survivors, educators, activists, experts and those on a path to self discovery.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Of all the arguments out there that propose how to end rape, embracing women’s sexual pleasure may not sound like a likely solution. But Yes Means Yes argues otherwise. By investigating the myriad ways the sexual choices of women can take shape, this anthology argues, not only should women know what they don’t want, but they also should seize their freedom to explore what they do want. By challenging blanket claims, like that all males are sexual aggressors, and taking the shame away from females who are bona fide sexual submissives, Yes Means Yes says the conscious decisions we make about sex in its many forms are the best medicine for the illness that is rape culture."
Bust Magazine

"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 authors in this collection speak with authority and, unfortunately for some, from personal experience."
Ms. Magazine


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press (December 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1580052576
  • ISBN-13: 978-1580052573
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 74 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on February 6, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I am white, 240lb Neanderthal looking 23 yr veteran of military Special Operations, a former Pro cage fighter and exist to say the least in a testosterone laden male work environment rampant with the negative views and stereotypes on womens' sexuality one might expect. I am not sure if I am alone in my views or others just play along out of fear of being ostracized for expressing their support of womens' empowerment. This book hits the nail right on the head and articulates the societal double standards and male fear of powerful women and their comfort and equal participation in sex and their sexual choices. I have two daughters and a son and I want them all to grow up to understand that women are equal in every way and deserve to be proud, in control and free of judgement for having an opinion and say in the collaboration of sexual relations (amongst other things) with their partners. this books expresses and explains clearly the process towards this in our society. I recommend this highly.
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27 of 34 people found the following review helpful By K. Gallivan on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
A heavy hitter from the feminist blogoshpere! Good mix of personal essays, prose and more academic stuff that painted a great picture of current issues, theories and ideas about consent. I was impressed by the information they had on the current social climate of gender...well documented topics such as abstinence only sex education were given a bit of spotlight but more unexpected subjects were given coverage as well. This diversity included topics such as rape of illegal Latin-American immigrants during border crossing and on how female sexuality is used in torture in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay. Interesting stuff! I hate to say it but usually I'm not surprised by personal essays on feminism and gender anymore. This is especially true for ones that revolve around popular third wave theory...identity politics, intersectionality, gender as a social construct, consent, promiscuity and so on. I learned new ways of thinking about all these concepts though so if you're one of those sociology-of-gender-nerds that thinks you've basically already read this book, THINK AGAIN! There is an essay I want my mom to read and a couple that I want my close not-feminist friends to read. Everyone should read at least part of this book.
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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Clarissa's Blog VINE VOICE on July 15, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The essays in this great book are compiled and analyzed by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti and the book's structure reflects the authors' blogging experience, which makes for an incredibly helpful and original format. This book is beautifully constructed, extremely well-argued, and offers a lot of material to think about.

The authors of these essays look at the different ways in which the traditionalist approach supports and enables rape and sexual assault. The conservative gender roles that present a woman as a secondary being actually promote the culture of rape: "While right-wing groups certainly don't come out in support of rape, they do promote an extremist ideology that enables rape and promotes a culture where sexual assault is tacitly accepted. The supposedly 'pro-family' marital structure, in which sex is exchanged for support and the woman's identity is absorbed into her husband's, reinforces the idea of women as property and as simple accoutrements to a man's more fully realized existence." So when we rush to declare ourself as male property by giving up our names, careers, interests and preferences for the huge honor of belonging to a man, let us remember where this ideology comes from and where it often leads us.

The very structure of our patriarchal vision of sexuality is informed by gender stereotypes. Men are expected to want sex more than women and employ a variety of "courting" tactics in order to get sex from presumably unwilling women. Every woman knows how annoying the rhetoric of female affections that have to be 'conquered' through male effort is. From early childhood, men are taught that female 'no' doesn't really mean a final and unquestionable rejection.
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26 of 37 people found the following review helpful By W. Edwards on February 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
This book deals with intense subjects so you have to be feeling a little brave to begin reading. (At least I do!) Though without dealing with these issues head-on the book could not do what it does best: inspire you that we can work to eradicate rape and at the same time make the sex and sexuality playing field more level, fluid, communicative, and respectful of people's boundaries. Not only do these collected essays identify the problems, they also put forth ways to repair them and move forward. It's a matter of learning to live the ideas found in these pages. Not easy, but certainly within our capabilities.

I enjoyed the book's use of tags on each essay like a blog instead of grouping them in sections of similar themes as per usual in books. It makes reading the book feel more engaging because you have a say in where you go next. Under the tags at the end of each essay are other essays working with the same theme(s). I would have liked page numbers alongside these listed essays, but this is a minor quibble because I don't mind flipping a few pages. Plus, in heading back to the table of contents, you may find an essay you wish to read that shares none of the tags of the essay you just read. Dynamic reading, indeed!
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