yes means yes! by jaclyn friedman & jessica valenti

yes means yes! by jaclyn friedman & jessica valenti

I received this wonderful book for free — not because I am a special snowflake and received an Advanced Reader’s Copy, but because the health center at my university gave it to me during a sexual health course because the course creators viewed Yes! as essential reading. Why oh why didn’t I listen to them when they said that this book would literally change the way that I thought about sexual assault and the way we talk about sexual health in America?

Instead of reading this book in its entirety when I was first given it by the sexual health goddesses at my university (because completing additional reading while poring through pile after pile of required reading is h-a-r-d), I read a few selected passages that were recommended by the coordinators of the course. I really enjoyed that the first chapter recommended to the course entitled “Hooking Up with Healthy Sexuality: The Lessons Boys Learn (and Don’t Learn) About Sexuality, and Why a Sex-Positive Rape Prevention Paradigm Can Benefit Everyone Involved” by Brad Perry as it really challenged me to view sexual health through a different lens other than the one I was born with (aka white and female-bodied). As someone who had never taken any sort of gender studies or sexual health courses before, this chapter was a huge eye-opener for me in terms of seeing how some different people interact with and understand rape culture within American society. I thoroughly recommend reading this chapter first to anyone who undertakes sexual health & assault as new reading territory.

Despite connecting with the chapter, I wasn’t able to set aside time to read the entire book while a student. Thus, it was one of the books I put into a pile of things that absolutely needed to be properly read whenever I finished my time as an undergraduate student and would hopefully possess eager eyes and a less stressed brain. I’m so glad that day finally came and I was able to give these essays a shot and read them altogether.

The book is compiled of essays written by different people who have had different experiences. The editors of the book, Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti — who also contribute their own chapters, tagged all of the essays with different themes such as Consent, Race, Sexual Healing, Media, Survival, Queerness, and Gender, though with much cooler names than I’ve simplified them to here. This allows a reader to jump around to specific issues that they’re curious about or to immediately look up similar chapters if they find an essay that really connects with them. For my first thorough read, I decided to read completely through and dive into the essays in the order that they were compiled by the editors. The order flows very smoothly despite covering a range of topics which may or may not seem related on the surface.

After reading this book, I feel like a more well-rounded individual who holds a more nuanced view on sexual health issues in America. I definitely recommend this book to anyone curious about different opinions and viewpoints on sexual health and assault, no matter what level of understanding and background you already have. New terms that you may not be familiar with are well explained, but also won’t feel like you’re being talked down to if you’re already cool with the lingo. Enjoy!

Publication date: 2 December 2008 by Seal Press Format: Paperback

Authors: Jaclyn Friedman web/@twitter/podcast & Jessica Valenti web/@twitter/column

On a blog-related note: Woohoo for finally publishing my first book review here! Though it’s clearly delayed (finished the book in January, posting the review in April), I’m excited to jump into action with publishing reviews of my backlogged reads (complete list can be found here) and to eventually be posting at the same rate that I’m reading books. Thank you for reading this first blog and joining me on this journey!

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