Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a booksigning for Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape, an anthology edited by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti of Feministing.

What an incredibly powerful and liberating idea: creating a world where rape is rare and where women can truly own their sexuality. The title implies that if women can say no to sex, then they also have the right and the freedom to say yes to sex as well; a remix of “no means no” if you will (which, by the way, is  still a very important piece when we talk about rape).

I did livetweet this event,  but because some of my friends and homegirls couldn’t attend,  I thought I should do a wrap-up right here on black girl blogging.

The Purity Myth: Jessica Valenti talks about who gets to be considered pure (“skinny white girls” in her words), and why it is problematic for the rest of us. “Pop culture feeds us a modernized virgin/whore dichotomy…abstinence-only sex education by day, girls gone wild by night.” Well said, Jessica

Rape and the Immigrant Woman: Miriam Pena talked about an issue I hadn’t thought of before….how women who cross the border experience rape and violence from the men helping them across the border, among other people. “Rape is the price some women pay to get into this country,” she says. Wow.  I dont’ know what else to say about this. It is painful.

The “Not-Rape” Epidemic: LaToya Peterson of Racialicious explains how our framing of rape–especially for women of color–has silenced voices. The way that “not-rape” works is that we are told that rape happens to women who are in strange places with strange men–therefore, anything outside of that definition is considered “not rape.”

This becomes very apparent when juxtaposed with the “don’t have it” meme that elle, phd has discussed recently. Because many Black women are told growing up to just not have sex until we’re married–as I was–when we are “not raped” by someone who know, date, are friends with, are related to, etc. we are made to feel ashamed since, after all, we were told to “not have it”.

“Women are raped twice–once when the rape occurs and again in the courtroom,” says LaToya. This tweet from @naturallyalise took it a step further….that once they tell friends and family it is as if the rape is happening all over again if they face judgement.

Lastly, Jessica Valenti talked about pleasure as a universal right and how this idea cuts across racial and gender lines…Just hearing this made me feel inspired enough to write a piece about black sexuality next week as we get closer to Valentine’s Day….stay tuned.

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