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Sexual Assault Awareness

Book Review: Yes Means Yes; Visions of Female Power in a World Without Rape

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Last month was Sexual Assault Awareness Month, folks! As statistics and stories flood social media this month, I found myself having an odd reaction. Yeah, we know it's a problem. We've known how big of a problem it is for a while now. So why the heck is this still happening?

So I turned to Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti's book to see if they could offer me some insight.

"Yes Means Yes" is a collection of essays written to address sticky topics involved in sex and sexual assault. Categories such as "Is Consent Complicated?" "Fight the Power" and "Healing to Yes," make it easy to navigate through the essays to find something that you connect with.

My favorite thing about this book is that it's written and constructed by real, everyday people who care about the culture of sex in our world. Far from a dry text book, "Yes Means Yes" uses colorful language and rich tones to get to the meat and potatoes of what the authors are trying to say. It's real.

Another thing I really enjoyed was the positive perspective employed to look at the all-too-sensitive subject of sex. In Beyond Yes or No: Consent as a Sexual Process, Rachel Kramer Bussel shows us that the common phrase "no means no" only perpetuates the negative thoughts and ideas surrounding sex in our country. Why should I focus on being responsible for saying no, when I can be empowered to say yes? Same situation, very different takes. Consent is sexy!

Often, commentary on rape and sexual exploitation can fall into being very gender-normative; the language they use can perpetuate the myth that only women are sexually assaulted. While the statistics reflect that it's far more common for women to experience sexual assault, the book uses the non-gender-conforming pronoun "hir" to reflect the fact assault is a problem across the board, not just for women. 

One criticism that I would offer to the authors concerns the category "The Right is Wrong." While it's true that many politically and social conservative groups have contributed to rape culture, they're certainly not the only culprits. Sexual assault and the way we view it is an issue across the board, regardless of political leanings.

Check out this book that challenges us to consider the underlying issues of rape culture in addition to sexual assaults themselves. And if you'd like to reach out and talk about sexuality or sexual concerns, give us a call. Yes means yes!

A Love Letter to Survivors of Sexual Assault

Dear Client,

It took me a long time to start this letter. What could I possibly offer to you that would be of any value? You who has known pain beyond measure, fear beyond belief, and strength to bear the two.

Should I tell you I’m sorry? No, that is useless to you. What good is my sympathy for your suffering? It offers no relief.

Should I tell you that you will be OK, because I know it to be true? No. You don’t feel OK right now, you will think me a liar.

Should I tell you that I understand, and that I know what you’re going through? No. I can never fully comprehend the unique nightmares that plague you. I do not live inside your mind. I could never fully know.

Should I share with you my own story, that you might feel less alone? No. You are not alone, but your story is your own, and no one else’s experience will change the past.   

These are gifts that are worthless to you.

So I will tell you thank you. Thank you for trusting me with this piece of your heart. I know your attacker took your choice and your power while they were sexually assaulting you. And so I know what it took for you to offer me this piece of yourself. I honor the offering, I honor this piece, and I honor the whole of you.

I will honor your story by listening with my soul. And I will remind you tirelessly of the strength and courage you possess. I will speak to the part of you that knew you deserved healing and peace, the part that whispered to me: help. I will help you remember why you want to feel better, and help you to remember your worth.

I will prop up your power and your strength with my own unfaltering belief in you, until you are ready to stand unaided once more.

“You have no idea how hard I looked for a gift to bring You. Nothing seemed right. What’s the point of bringing gold to the gold mine, or water to the ocean? Everything I came up with was like taking spices to the Orient. It’s no good giving my heart and my soul because you already have these. So I’ve brought you a mirror. Look at yourself and remember me.” - Rumi

 I have no gifts to offer you. You are the gift.

Thank you.