Saturday, January 30, 2010

"Movement" Means ACTION!

Shifting from "No means No" to "Yes means Yes!"
The slogan "no means no" has penetrated the mainstream where it has been embraced by many but become "white noise" to many others. And for those who have embraced it, it problematically implies that absence of "no" is akin to consent. This is not the case.

To be clear: not saying "no" is not the same as saying "yes."
Further, if "no" is not an option, "yes" is meaningless.
Healthy sexual expression can occur only when "yes" and "no" are equally valued. In order to support healthy sexual expression, the Anti-Rape Movement must shift to a sex-positive framework.

A sex-positive framework can take various forms. However, in the context of the Anti-Rape Movement, the following should be applied:[1]

- Consensual sex is the opposite of rape. As rape is a negative force both personally and in society, sex can be a positive force both in personal development and in society at large.
- Communication, consent and pleasure are necessary components of sexual health.
- Sexual health includes engaging in sexual acts that are safe, sane and consensual.
- Consensual sexual expression is a basic human right, regardless of the form that expression takes.
- Sexual assault, pregnancy & STI transmission prevention are necessary components of healthy sexuality education.
- People have the right to accurate and straightforward sexual health information.

- It is inappropriate to judge others’ consensual choices regarding how they have sex, who to have sex with or how they define their sexual orientation and identity.

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the sex-positive incarnation of the Anti-Rape Movement won’t be either.
But luckily, the foundation has already been laid. Jaclyn Friedman & Jessica Valenti’s 2008 anthology: Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape reflects the emergent dialogue about sex-positivity in the Anti-Rape Movement. In its 300+ pages Yes Means Yes! addresses many of the issues that will be addressed in this blog and does so with respect to the racial, economic and social diversity that was too-often absent from the 1970s Feminist Movement in America.

So what's holding us back?

Shifting to a sex-positive framework means addressing difficult questions that the movement has avoided answering in the past. For instance - since a person cannot legally consent to sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol: is all drunk sex actually rape? This author argues that it is not. But these are the types of questions that the movement has to struggle with in order to make this necessary shift to a sex-positive framework.

But struggle is not a bad thing. "Struggle" implies movement. And the Anti-Rape Movement needs just that: To Move. American culture looks vastly different that it did in the 1970s when the movement emerged. It's time to adapt. It's time grow. It's time to move and take action.

I propose we begin taking action with something every reader can do: start thinking about sex. Start thinking about how sex is represented in the music you listen to. Start thinking about how sex is represented in advertisements you see throughout the day. Think about conversations you've had or overheard about sex. What are the messages you've received?

Then think about this: rape is about power and manipulation. Sex is about pleasure at the expense of no one and to the benefit of you and your partner(s). Have you ever confused these things in your life? It's likely that you have. After all, we only know what we're taught. And we're taught to confuse rape with sex (see "Welcome" post). So this isn't about beating yourself up. This is about deciding how you want to proceed.

The first step is to imagine what you want. So lets get moving!

[1] Adapted by SHEER: Sexuality Health Education to End Rape, from Cory Silverberg, AASECT- Certified Sexuality Educator,

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Countless people commit rape every year without knowing they're a rapist.

Now that I have your attention, consider this: sexuality education is hard to come by in the United States. It's not taught in many schools. It's certainly not taught in most workplaces. There are stigmas attached to walking into a sex toy store or borrowing a sex education book from the library. And if you try to educate yourself online you must weed through pages of pornography before you're likely to come across a legitimate sexuality education website. The ignorance that results makes it possible for a person to commit rape when what they're seeking is sex.

The anti-rape movement teaches us that rape is about power and manipulation. Rape is not about sex.

True enough, right?

Well...yes and no. Rape IS about power and manipulation. But then, so are the images that we're shown about sex. Try to think of a scene in a movie, a song lyric, a music video or a personal conversation in which one person encourages another to drink alcohol with the hopes of "getting laid." For most people it's easy to come up with multiple examples of this, whether from personal experience or images in the media.

But by Illinois (as well as other states') law, a person CANNOT consent to sexual activity while under the influence of alcohol. In other words: having sex with a drunk person may not be sex at all. It may very well be rape.

This is just one of the countless examples of how we are taught to confuse sex with rape.

So how should we proceed?

The way I see it, we have a few options. We can educate people about rape (we've been doing this for about 40 years now and we've made great strides) OR we can educate people about sex. Option "B" certainly sounds like more fun but frankly, I don't think we should have to choose. So I propose a third option: we do both.

And that is what this blog is all about. By teaching people about sex, about how to communicate about sex about how to have hot, wonderful consensual sex, we are simultaneously teaching people how not to commit rape.

When I first joined the anti-rape movement I was met with this slogan:
"Imagine a world without rape. What are you doing to create that world?"
Starting conversations about how to have amazing sex is what I am doing -- and I'd love for you to join me. Please follow along as this blog develops, offer input or get involved in any way you can.