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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!