Posted by: unhcragd | November 29, 2009

Yes. Yes. “Yes Means Yes!”

Here’s what we’re reading during 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women.

I’ve just cracked open  “Yes Means Yes!  Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape” – the 2009 Publishers Weekly best book edited  by writers and activists Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti.  I’m just through the first few chapters and already this book is changing my discourse around a culture of rape.  Chapter 2 is particularly insightful  –  “Toward a Performance Model of Sex” by Thomas MacAulay Millar (the pen-name of a New York litigator) discusses the destructive ways Western culture models sex.

Millar says those who rape acquire a “social license to operate” from the model of sex as a commodity.  “We live in a culture where sex is not so much an act as a thing; a substance that can be given, bought, sold or stolen, that has value in a supply and demand curve.”  says Millar.  This has all kinds of implications – especially since women are expected to be gatekeepers of sex while men are generally viewed as the owners of the “property”, and therefore entitled to it in the end – even if by force.  Sex as property is something that gets used up, worn out, discarded over time.   Wow.

Millar proposes a performance model of sex.  Think of sex as a musical interaction between highly practiced, experienced performers.  What a beautiful thought.  The performance gets better and better over time.  This avoids power imbalance and exploitation of young and vulnerable. It avoids the shame and secrecy in using it.  And it enables a spiritual, intellectual and physical joy in the engagement.   Why would you want to engage in a musical performance with someone who has no experience?  I like this.  And I’m looking forward to more insight from this book.

I also like the title of the book – powerful.  Thanks to these authors who are shifting our thinking and the dialogue in such interesting ways.

Check out Valenti’s excellent blog

And click here to find UNHCR activities during the 16 Days.


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