Progressive Women's Non-Fiction Reading Circle discussion

Book Discussion > Yes Means Yes

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message 1: by Avory (new)

Avory Faucette (avoryfaucette) Yes Means Yes Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape is one of the most enlightening feminist books I've read recently. The collection of essays attacks American rape culture and provides an insight on both the problems and the solutions. I was particularly impressed by how the essays address all the interconnected problems in this area, from victim blaming to sex-negativity to abstinence-only education to homophobia. If you look at your own life, you'll start to realize just how f*cked up our collective attitude towards sexuality is - everything from education to the instinct to walk with keys clenched in your fist to the assumption that it's not rape if you didn't affirmatively say "no" reflects this.

Has anyone else read this book? Any thoughts?

If you haven't read, I'm curious how much women are conscious of rape culture in their own lives. It's an interesting, if possibly painful, experiment to go back through your experiences with men and see if any "not rapes" exist in that history. Street harassment, casual unwanted touches, and sex without enthusiastic consent are so common that they creep up on us without even noticing. I'm also wondering how others define consent. Do you have to consent to everything, or just sexual intercourse? Do you need to ask affirmatively for sex, to affirmatively express your desire, not to say "no," not to physically fight back, or some combination?

message 2: by Tamra (new)

Tamra I had a mixed reaction to Yes Means Yes. On the one hand, the overall premise - examining the differences between saying NO, saying nothing, and saying YES - was terrific, and I loved the variety of voices that were included. The editors did a tremendous job of showing how narrow and negative our society's views are toward women, power, sexuality and gender identity.

On the other hand, there were two areas where I had problems with the book. First, my pedantic little brain was a bit appalled by the lack of academic rigor in a couple of the essays. If you're going to quote a source or cite a statistic, somebody like me is going to read the end notes, and in a couple of cases, the citations made me blanch. There's a powerful moral argument to be made in this book - and dicey sources distract from that argument.

Second, and this is a general pet peeve that I have with a lot of 'call to arms' books, is that there really wasn't much in the way of practical, activist solutions. While beautifully done, the arguments in this book have been made for at least 30 years. What are steps that we can take to actually change things? Are there groups that are trying to take back school boards? Does anybody have a model of positive sex-education? Are there countries, states, counties or cities that seem to be on the path? A billion other practical things spring to mind. Naming the problems and finding the courage to discuss them are tremendous first steps, and Yes Means Yes does a really good job of it, but what's being done to move things forward so we don't have the same conversations in another 30 years?

[As a side note, here's a good addition to the essays in the book: The "Not Rape" Epidemic: The Modeling Industry Is Anything but Immune]

message 3: by Avory (new)

Avory Faucette (avoryfaucette) Tamra, I definitely see what you mean about sources. I have a similar reaction whenever I read a book and see lack of citations, or poor citations. However, I've been trying to ignore it because legal citation is much more rigourous than other genres, so I assume authors/editors are meeting whatever requirements exist for their genre. I would have loved a bibliography for this book, and was sad not to find one.

The practical applications would be nice... I think I assumed that there weren't really very many of them. Everything in the book seemed so new and groundbreaking to me, but of course I'm new to feminism and so it may be that women have been working on this for years. Maybe it's a question of audience - good book for someone at my level of familiarity, who's just starting to say "oh, that not-rape in my past was not okay..." but someone who knows what's going on could use more. I'll take a look at that article suggestion this weekend! Welcome to the group :-)

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