Call for submissions: Yes Means Yes!

Hey y’all, if you or anyone you know is interested…submit something!
Co-editors Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti are seeking submissions for their anthology on rape culture, Yes Means Yes!, to be published by Seal Press in Fall 2008.
Imagine a world where women enjoy sex on their own terms and aren’t shamed for it. Imagine a world where men treat their sexual partners as collaborators, not conquests. Imagine a world where rape is rare and swiftly punished.
Welcome to the world of Yes Means Yes.
Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex. We are looking to collect sharp and insightful essays, from voices both established and new, that demonstrate how empowering female sexual pleasure is the key to dismantling rape culture.

Potential essay subjects could include;
* Revamping how public sex education is taught, and to whom.
* The new backlash against rape survivors (i.e., media obsession with drinking, Girls Gone Wild culture being to blame for assault)
* Bringing men back into the conversation, making men leaders in the movement to end rape culture
* Thoughts on “enthusiastic consent�
* Taking Back the Porn: How changing the pornography industry can stop rape
* The power of language (naming rape for what it is, or the new myth of “gray rape�)
* A primer for men on sexual assault
* How good sex (where women’s pleasure is central) can mean an end to rape culture, and how a society that values genuine female sexual pleasure will make it easier to identify and prosecute rapists.
* Rethinking sexual interaction as a private joint performance, as opposed to as an exchange of a commodity or service
* An analysis of the economics of female sexual alienation/oppression, and an economic model for resistance
* Holding the MSM accountable for torture porn, kidnapping crusades and faux feminism.
* Desegmenting the Market: overcoming commercially enforced sexual stereotypes to organize across race, class, gender, and difference
* On pulling out the invisible lynchpin of rape culture: homophobia
* Creating accurate media representations of rape
Women and men, published and unpublished authors, are all encouraged to submit essays. Be creative, be forward-thinking, be funny! Perhaps most importantly, we are seeking essays with a pro-active bent that offer new and insightful thoughts and actions on how to dismantle rape culture. No more “No Means No,� let’s think “Yes Means Yes!�
Please submit your essays to no later than March 1, 2008.
Essays should be from 2000 to 5000 words, double spaced and paginated. Please include your address, phone number, email address and a short bio.
Jaclyn Friedman
Jaclyn Friedman is a writer, performer and activist. In her work as the Program Director for the Center for New Words she programs and produces a 50 plus event-per-year series of author discussions, as well as writing workshops, open mics, political discussions, music concerts, book groups and special events. She is Co-Founder and Co-Chair of WAM!, CNW’s conference on Women, Action & the Media. Friedman’s work has been published in many outlets including Bitch, AlterNet, Women’s eNews, She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College and has received a 2001 Cambridge Poetry Award, a 2004 Somerville Arts Council Artist Grant, and a recent fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center.
Jessica Valenti
Jessica Valenti, 29, is the founder and Executive Editor of and the author of Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminist Matters. Jessica has a Masters degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University and has worked with national and international women’s organizations, including Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and the Women’s Environment and Development Organization. She is also a co-founder of the REAL hot 100, a campaign that aims to change the perception of younger women in the media, and a contributing author to We Don’t Need Another Wave and Single State of the Union.

Join the Conversation

  • feministorbust

    Fantastic! I’ll start brainstorming tonight. Had a long, great conversation with a friend yesterday about current discourses about sex as they relate to rape and sexual assault — and that so few of them are pleasure-centered. Instead of encouraging communication between partners about what they want and what feels good, communication is completely thrown out the window and what is supposed to be fun and pleasurable often becomes mechanical and non-consensual.
    Anyway–the timing is coincidental :)Thanks!

  • MrMorden

    This is a brilliant idea. I think that our most tragic inheritance from the Victorian era is the idea that women are just indifferent (or even hostile!) towards sex.
    Jessica wrote:
    Rethinking sexual interaction as a private joint performance, as opposed to as an exchange of a commodity or service
    I would argue that THIS is the lynchpin that holds together most of our culture’s hang-ups, if not the very root of the problem itself. Homophobia is another serious problem, but I don’t see how it’s related to the rape issue other than tangentially.

  • Kattyben

    This sounds like a terrific project, and right on the money.
    One quibble: Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex.
    On the contrary, there is a long and distinguished history of feminist wisdom that rape and sex have everything to do with one another. MacKinnon and Dworkin certainly come to mind. I see this project as being, in a sense, the flip side of their argument that rape and sex are on a continuum, with the distinction between them often collapsed or in danger of collapsing.
    I dislike the implication of this claim to “fly in the face of conventional feminist wisdom,” because it seems to me, paradoxically, to score a point for this new feminist project at the expense of existing feminism(s) and feminists.

  • EverythingisImage

    this sounds AWESOME. I am so excited for this. ahhhhh!!!! This is something that NEEDS to be discussed and I love the proactive slant you’re taking. Hopefully I will come up with some *amazingly insightful* essay…I’ve got some work to do..;)

  • kirsch

    This does totally sound fantastic! I’ll have to dust off my quill and come up with something interesting to add…

  • lizadilly

    Provocative indeed. I was worried for a second when I thought this was veering toward the “if women put out more men wouldn’t have to rape them” concept (something I would never expect to hear here), but I see where you’re really going and it does need to be discussed. Looking forward to it.

  • heather

    Here is frightening evidence for the necessity of this project.

  • heather

    frightening evidence for why this project is so important:

  • 88mph

    “How good sex (where women’s pleasure is central)”
    Wait, what? How is that not sexist?
    It’s only “good sex” if we ignore the other person in bed?
    How about “good sex (where the pleasure of both partners is central)”?

  • Jessica


  • 88mph

    Sigh, what? I’m asking for some clarification on that.
    Maybe I read it wrong, or you meant something differently than the way you typed it, I don’t know.
    I just know it sounds like you said the only way sex can be good is if we’re the only person of importance in the bed.

  • Jessica

    88mph, no one is suggesting that good sex means ignoring men. But considering women’s pleasure is pretty much denigrated, I don’t see a problem with saying that it should be central in terms of dismantling rape culture. Jaclyn, want to weigh in? (If you’re there?)

  • bethora

    Ah! Since the day my ex-boyfriend asked, “Are all feminists sex-addicts [like you]?” (oh, by “sex-addicts” you mean we actually enjoy getting in on this whole “pleasure” thing?), this is the book I’ve waited for!

  • TJ

    “Bringing men back into the conversation, making men leaders in the movement to end rape culture”

    How long until there’s a male editor of feministing?

  • 88mph

    Ohhhh. Gotcha. I just thought you were saying it should be central, period, at all times, no matter what.
    Okay, that makes more sense, then.

  • Jessica

    Ok cool, apologies for the initial “sigh,” 88mph. I think I was just prepared to do a lot of shit-taking with this one. ;)

  • Betty Boondoggle

    “Wait, what? How is that not sexist?
    It’s only “good sex” if we ignore the other person in bed? ”
    Wow. A whole 8 posts before the WATM! Wahmbulence showed up.

  • MrMorden

    Cripes sake, people, can we get back to talking about how everyone would be a lot happier if women could enthusiastically consent without concern of social reprobation?

  • femprof

    Is it possible to propose an idea now or are you only looking at completed essays in March?

  • Jessica

    no, no, feel free to email us now–the deadline is just march!

  • acranom

    On a side note, I just want to say that I love that Jaclyn has an MFA. I’m starting an MFA program next fall and I just adore the fact that one answer to the question of “What do you do with an MFA?” is BE A KICKASS FEMINIST.

  • roro80

    I have what I think could be an excellent idea for an essay in this collection, and I’d love to present it to the feministing community, as I am by no means a writer. I’m going to take a stab at it, but I think in the hands of a more talented and well-resourced researcher/writer, it could be very interesting.
    So here’s the idea: using the lessons learned by how the gay male community in San Francisco handled the AIDS crisis in the 80s-90s as a model for how to reduce violence to women. Sex positivity, constant dialogue among not only sexual partners but the entire community about the issues, overwhelming community outreach to victims, prevention workshops, non-profits, youth outreach, and enthusiastic acceptance of sexuality as a positive and not a negative — all these things were vital in creating an educated community where AIDS is still a problem, but at a much dimished level; plus many of these things tend to lead to better, more satisfying sex! I think all those factors, if implemented in other communities, could greatly diminish the incidence of domestic violence and violence against women in general.

  • Eudoxia Smithereens

    @MrMorden, comment#2:
    I think what they’re getting at about homophobia being the root of rape culture is the Myth of Fragile Masculinity, which puts men in the position of constantly having to prove their masculinity to each other. It feeds into both virulent homophobia and strong pressure on men to rape, or if not to rape then to act as if they don’t care about women. Think of the mentality of someone who participates in a gang rape, who is not the ringleader. Chances are he worries a lot more about what the other men present will think of him than about what he’s doing to the woman.

  • MrMorden

    Eudoxia Smithereens:
    Thanks for the link, but that post seems to suggest that the lynchpin is the myth itself rather than Jessica’s thesis or mine.

  • Hugo Schwyzer

    I’m definitely gonna rework my “the opposite of rape isn’t consent, the opposite of rape is enthusiasm” post up and see what happens. What an exciting project.

  • SarahS

    You should send this solicitation over to the Lambda Literary people (assuming you’ll take queer submissions as well as hetero ones). They run a page of Calls for Submissions that a lot of my writer friends check all the time.

  • Heina

    This is going to be my winter break project! *dances*

  • JoanAtlas

    “Yes Means Yes! will fly in the face of the conventional feminist wisdom that rape has nothing to do with sex.”
    I’m a bit confused about that sentence. Can you please explain a bit further or maybe direct me to some helpful links?

  • anisky

    “Holding the MSM accountable for torture porn, kidnapping crusades and faux feminism.”
    I’m curious about what constitutes “faux” feminism?
    But more importantly, I’m curious about how this site feels about consensual BDSM. Sometimes “torture porn” and “kidnapping crusades” are exactly what women fantasize about. If what you mean by “held accountable” is to be ultra careful with it, that’s one thing, but there are distributors of BDSM porn who I definitely don’t think should be shut down. I guess the big question I’m asking is, do you consider somewhere like (the subject of a New York Times article describing what a great employer it is, its desire for transparency, and overall a desire to show BDSM as consensual, making sure to include at the end of each video a segment where the bottom says “Hi, I’m _____, and I’m just fine, everything was consensual”) to be distributing “torture porn”? I mean, there are people tied up and being, well, tortured– but with this explicitly consensual.
    Another question is… how taboo on this site is something like the occurance of rape fantasies? They’re said to be very common, but there don’t seem to be a lot of studies out there so it’s hard to come up with statistics, but based on people I know they seem to be very common indeed. Would an exploration of rape fantasies be welcome here? By “exploration” I mean the guilt women (and men) have to battle with about these fantasies, and also analyzing rape role play as opposed to actual rape, how the former two interact with the latter, whether they perpetuate it, just in general how each affects the other and how the perception of each affects the perception of the other, and whether or not these fantasies should simply be suppressed or if it is valid to explore these (with, of course, certain safety measures and a whole heaping of self knowledge).
    Would an essay about that be welcome?
    There are a bunch of questions in this post– sorry. It’s a complex topic, at least as I see it.

  • bubblewrapgenie

    acranom: Ditto to everything! Where are you going for your MFA and what in?

  • rachelgbd

    This has been a field of interest of mine for quite some time now. Is it allowable to submit more than one essay if they are on different relevant subject headings?

  • Doug S.

    I’m not qualified to comment on this subject (being a 25 year old male virgin), but I know of someone who is:
    Warning: this site contains written material that is very NSFW and may be considered squicky!

  • kjalepepper

    anisky, I have been wondering the same thing about the feminist perception of rape fantasy. I have always been an advocate of people’s freedom to fantasize about what ever they want, but with rape and violence it becomes much more of a gray area for many people. I think this would make a great essay, to find relevant and accurate information on rape fantasy (from all perspectives) and what it means to the men and women who have them.

  • Liza

    Wow, as a writer this is so up my alley. I’m going to try and write something for you. Hopefully I’ll be awesome enough to make it in!

  • kjalepepper

    I just did a little research and found a some interesting studies on rape fantasy in both men and women. A lot of my interest in the topic has to do with its place in literature, so I just might submit something for consideration. Could be interesting.

  • Doug S.

    Maybe I shouldn’t be linking to this, but…
    Among the hypotheses presented in this paper includes the following:
    The sexual double standard is a female reaction to oppression by men. When women are stripped of the ability to support themselves except by “selling” sex to men (through marriage or other means), it is in their interest to drive the price of their sole bargaining chip as high as possible – which means suppressing the sexuality of other women.
    (The exchange model of human sexual behavior may make accurate predictions, but it’s clearly not the most fun way to approach sex in one’s own relationships.)

  • anisky

    kjalepepper, I’d love to see your research and what you write about the topic. I’m definitely thinking of writing about it myself, though my interest is less in the literature as I’m a very active part of my city’s and school’s BDSM community, so my interest is more the roleplaying. Is there a good way to exchange contact info on here? :-/

  • ShifterCat

    @anisky: what Feministing (and much of pop culture) means by “torture porn” isn’t actual BDSM film, but rather kidnapping/dismemberment movies such as Captivity and Hostel, in which the audience is encouraged to linger over lengthy and explicit scenes of simulated torture.
    As for what the Feministing community thinks about women having fantasies in which non-consensual things happen to them, everyone seems to understand that a masturbatory fantasy is something wholly owned by the person who dreamed it up. There is some concern over how well mainstream culture understands that, though.

  • anisky

    @Shiftercat: Thanks for the clarification about torture porn.
    As far as the rape fantasies, thank you for your explanation but I wasn’t speaking of masturbatory fantasy– I was speaking of rape role-playing, erotica involving rape, and so on (though more the former than the latter in my case); the times when it is no longer wholly owned by the person who dreamed it up, but something manifested in the real world. What of women willingly (enthusiastically!) taking part in a rape scene? And often these rape scenes are in “public” (that is, where people can watch but within a private club for those into BDSM), bringing even more people into it than the immediate players. What of that?

  • Dr. Hermione Granger, Phd

    Another great place to post this is the UPenn cfp site:
    I’ll also be sharing this with my WGS dept. Look forward to brainstorming!

  • Vervain

    What of women willingly (enthusiastically!) taking part in a rape scene?
    Willing + enthusiastic = not rape, by definition.
    If you’re into BDS&M you ought to know by now that consent is key. There’s a huge difference between consensual BDSM play and a severe beating. By the same token, there is a massive difference between a simulated or mock “rape” scene and actually being raped, regardless of whether or not there’s an audience.
    Personally I think the so-called “rape fantasy” is a reaction to a sexually repressed society. I think it’s most common in women because women are traditionally viewed as the sexual “gatekeepers” (controlling access to sexual pleasure) but simultaneously shamed for having or desiring it.
    The “fantasy” of losing control and/or being overpowered allows them to take pleasure in the act while absolving them of responsibility. It’s a way of gaining pleasure by surrendering control, just as in other forms of submissive BDS&M play. Personally, what you call a “rape fantasy” I prefer to call a “sexual submission fantasy,” as I find that to be more accurate. You can’t rape the willing–it’s a contradiction in terms. No one, not even a BDS&Mer who regularly participates in semi-public simulated “rape” scenes, actually wants to be raped.
    NO ONE.

  • kjalepepper

    I tend to still call it rape fantasy, largely because from the some males’ perspectives it can be exactly that. (Perhaps I should reevaluate the use of the term.) I find it very interesting the role fantasy plays in the minds of actual rapists and the horrible truth about their desires compared to men and women who have the so-called “sexual domination/submission” fantasies. I think it would be interesting to research society’s perception of those who have these fantasies compared to the men and women who might actually rape or have raped and the men/women who “want” to be raped (and yes, I am making the argument that some people might “want” to be raped for whatever reason, largely because there are too many people in the world to make sweeping generalizations and that ignorance or destructive behavior can be a very bad thing). In the end it is a discussion of the healthy mind verses the unhealthy one (for both rapist and would-be victim). Where do we draw the line?
    And of course it should go without saying that NO ONE should be raped, ever!
    When I have more time today, I will add a list of the studies I found on my personal blog and post the URL here. Seems the easiest way to share.

  • figleaf

    What’s nearly as exciting as your proposal is how most people either know or seem ready to get what you mean so it really must be the right time for the book!
    Thanks for including men in the equation. There really is a lot more in it for us besides being “nice” and not raping anyone.

  • Jeff

    anisky: By “torture porn,” I don’t think they’re talking about explicit material targeted to BDSM’ers, but rather the rise of mainstream media that sells images of women being (non-consensually) tortured; i.e., movies like Saw and Captivity.
    As far as “rape fantasies” go, the best explanation of the subject I’ve seen is that there’s a very, very big differenve between a fantasy in which one controls everything that’s going on, even if one’s fantasy self is powerless, and rape. It’s like the difference between a BDSM scenario and sexual assault. In addition, a lot of feminists are wary of arguments about rape fantasies because they’re used by rape apologists to show that rape or rape culture isn’t so bad, and that feminists are just out to spoil others’ fun.

  • Jeff

    I see that while composing my post, the discussion passed me by.
    As far as the rape fantasies, thank you for your explanation but I wasn’t speaking of masturbatory fantasy– I was speaking of rape role-playing, erotica involving rape, and so on (though more the former than the latter in my case)
    Honestly, that sort of thing really needs a different name (for instance, “rape scene,” which you use later). Though kjalepepper makes a good point, in that what may be a “sexual submission fantasy” for one participant may in fact be a “rape fantasy” (which may not be the same as a “sexual domination fantasy,” because one can be dominant with a willing and enthusiastic partner) for another. But I’ve never actually heard the term used to mean fantasizing about being a perpetrator, only about being a “victim.”

  • kjalepepper

    Here is the link to my blog on rape/force fantasy:
    I tried to find case studies and articles free online for easier access, but I only found one. Oh, I think the more modern term is sexual force fantasy, which I think better describes it than most terms. Any thoughts?

  • Diana Boston

    I am a retired sex worker and I have a lot to talk about. I will be writing a piece for this and the myth of ‘sex positive’ women being ‘liberated.’

  • Vervain

    “Sexual force fantasy” works for me. Actually I like it better than “sexual submission fantasy” because “force” can apply to participants on either side of the fantasy equation. And it’s a vast improvement over the obnoxiously contradictory “rape fantasy.”

  • JaclynF

    Hi all — sorry to be so long in chiming in on this thread. I was traveling. I’m soooo excited about all of the enthusiasm and excellent questions and ideas this call has already inspired — keep ‘em coming!

  • pandreamer

    Hi there,
    I realize I’m joining the discussion kinda late, but I have a question I can’t seem to answer: what is “rape culture?” To me the term has some very weird connotations, to say the least, but it’s entirely possible that I am completely misreading this. I hope someone can clarify this for me, because I’m working on an essay to submit to this.