Friday, April 29, 2011

Yes Means YES!!!

I just finished reading Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape, edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Margaret Cho wrote the introduction, a powerful essay on how just passively consenting to sex isn't enough in our sexual lives (READ IT here: It's a fantastic book of articles, noting how rape and sexual assault/coercion and the taboo of women's sexuality are two sides of the same coin. Most of the contributors have experienced sexual trauma and wrote about opening up a more sexual, sensual, respectful culture. Some of them articulated the connection between sexual trauma and sex-positive activism, and for others it was unstated but obvious.

Of course, this has lead me to analyze (overanalyze) my current sexual life in light of my resurfaced sexual trauma. People keep asking me if I'm queer/lesbian/bi because of my childhood sexual assault. NO and that's the wrong question! Am I a proud, queer sexual being because of that trauma? Yes and no. I had been wanting a more sensual life long before those memories were triggered, so my libido is unrelated to the trauma. Now that I'm consciously navigating the role of that assault in my life while I'm slutting it up, the boundary blurs. Awareness of consent heightens my experiences now.

I agree with the authors of Yes Means Yes in that more than just consent is necessasry, though. ENTHUSIASTIC consent, respect, communication, self-awareness, responsibility, play, desire, etc. It's the difference between "ok" and "YES YES YES!!" Knowing the value of these things in my experiences, that my partners value them too, and that I have complete control over my 50% all enhance my ethically slutty life now. That's a great book too!

And what's really mind-boggling is that the sexual assault that happened to me as a child wouldn't have happened (probably) had the perpetrator been sexually aware. She had no idea that what she was doing was sexual because anything other than penile-vaginal sex was entirely unknown. Had she been sexually aware, maybe she would have reconsidered what she did to me. Clearly, this doesn't make it ok.

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