Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape

I’m a big fan of Jessica Valenti. Unfortunately, there is a limitation any one writer inherently faces being only one writer—the lack of multiple perspectives. So I was very pleased to finally read Yes Means Yes!, which is an anthology she co-edited (and contributed one essay to).

The essays vary widely in terms of nuance, tone of voice, degree of feminist radicalism, and gender/sexuality (male, female, trans-gender).

I was a little disappointed that the essay entitled “Real Sex Education” (by someone who works for Planned Parenthood, at least part-time) contained this factual misinformation:

[I]n discussing intercourse and pregnancy, you can’t escape the male orgasm. It has to exist for pregnancy to happen.

Um, what?

The “withdrawal method” has long been known to be ineffective as birth control. From Planned Parenthood’s own website:

Even if a man pulls out in time, pregnancy can still happen. Some experts believe that pre-ejaculate, or pre-cum, can pick up enough sperm left in the urethra from a previous ejaculation to cause pregnancy. If a man urinates between ejaculations before having sex again, it will help clear the urethra of sperm and may increase the effectiveness of withdrawal.

Male orgasm does not have to exist for pregnancy to happen.

Other than that—lovely book. I particularly enjoyed Margaret Cho’s introduction, Millar’s “Toward a Performance Model of Sex,” Harris’ “A Woman’s Worth,” Harding’s “How Do You Fuck a Fat Woman?” Corrina’s “An Immodest Proposal,” Serano’s “Why Nice Guys Finish Last,” Higginbotham’s “Sex Worth Fighting For,” Valenti’s “Purely Rape: The Myth of Sexual Purity and How It Reinforces Rape Culture,” and the multi-authored “Who’re You Calling a Whore?: A Conversation with Three Sex Workers on Sexuality, Empowerment, and the Industry.”

Lots of perspectives, lots of agendas. Many of the essays will make you think. It’s almost impossible to agree with all of them—I think that’s what makes this book great. There are some essays I can see even the most avidly self-professed anti-feminists agreeing with, and there are a few that even I, as a self-professed radical feminist, found on the fringes of radicalism. That’s good. I like that kind of diversity.

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2 Comments

  1. Look forward to reading it. Exploring cultural theory has been an eye-opening experience.

    More power to you, ubuntucat!

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