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This review is from: Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape (Paperback)
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. They are told that 'no' means maybe and that effort and perseverance can eventually turn a 'no' into a 'yes.' And this myth is precisely what leads to so many stalkings, sexuall assaults, and rapes.
I have had the misfortune of experiencing the attitude inspired by the women-need-to-be-conquered myth more times that I care to remember. It's annoying and humiliating to be the object of male attempts at winning your affections once you have indicated that you are not interested. This state of things will not change unless we revise our understanding of gender roles. Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape also points out how this vision of gender roles victimizes men: "When society equates maleness with a constant desire for sex, men are socialized out of genuine sexual decision making, and are less likely to be able to know how to say no or be comfortable refusing sex when they don't want it."
The authors of the book analyze brilliantly how rape is used as a tool of social control. Women have to feel constantly fearful of placing themselves in the public realm and abandoning the mythical safety of their home, even though that home turns into the scene of violence, assault, and rape a lot more often than the streets.
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Showing 1-2 of 2 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 9, 2011 12:19:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 9, 2011 12:22:30 PM PST
Amazon Customer says:
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 9, 2011 12:22:40 PM PST
Clarissa's Blog says:
It's sad to see so much ignorance. Feminists defend the rights of both women and men. Look, for example, at the feminist struggle to award equal custody rights for parents of both genders.
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