Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Yes Means Yes

I read Yes Means Yes a couple of months ago and was blown away by the unique mix of accessibility and challenging/new ideas in the collection. I expected the book to be a collection of survivor stories, or family members of survivors, but I was in for a surprise. The book goes far beyond survivor stories, and delves into theories of consent, and an ideal world free of sexual assault, while the authors use their personal experiences as anecdotes to their ideas.

For instance, one author writes about her own relationships and how every act involving physical touch must be asked for and consented to every time. This ranges anywhere from a hug from a friend to sex with a partner. She writes how that model of consent allows her and her partner to have completely open lines of communication and how she has learned to not only accept/consent to touch, but also how to ask for touch that you want. She writes that she loved consenting wholeheartedly every single time.

I thought one of the most powerful pieces was the “Not-Rape Epidemic” by Latoya Peterson. In the essay, Peterson writes that we all learn about rape. From an early age, we understand what rape is. There are countless Lifetime films devoted to rape, lectures, speeches, etc. to promoting awareness of rape. What we don’t hear about too often is “not-rape.” Peterson defines not-rape as: being pressured into losing your virginity, not being able to remember what happened when you wake to find a family member in your bed with you, having an older family member’s boyfriend ask you for sexual favors, feeling boys grope you during school, among other sexual transgressions that don’t fit the definition of rape. Peterson even includes her own painful and personal experience of not-rape.

All of the essays in the book are extraordinary and powerful. Luckily, the WRC owns a copy of Yes Means Yes, which any NIU student/faculty member can check out from our library. You can look at our entire library collection here.

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