The performance model of sex, now in video form!

Have you read Yes Means Yes! yet? You should. The book that Jessica Valenti and Jaclyn Friedman co-edited is without a doubt one of the most important books I’ve read in the last few years. And one of the essays in that book, “Towards a Performance Model of Sex,” by Thomas Macaulay Millar, has completely shifted the way I think about sex. Macaulay Millar writes:

Because it centers on collaboration, a performance model better fits the conventional feminist wisdom that consent is not the absence of “no,” but affirmative participation. Who picks up a guitar and jams with a bassist who just stands there? Who dances with a partner who is just standing and staring? In the absence of affirmative participation, there is no collaboration.

Like the commodity model the performance model implies a negotiation, but not an unequal or adversarial one… Musicians have to choose, explicitly or implicitly, what they are going to play: genre, song, key and interpretation. The palette available to them is their entire skill set… Two musicians steeped in delta blues will produce very different music from one musician with a love for soul and funk and another with roots in hip-hop or 80s hardcore. This process involves communication of likes and dislikes and preferences, not a series of proposals that meet with acceptance or rejection.

A performance model is one that normalizes the intimate and interactive nature of sex. The commodity model easily divides sex into good and bad, based on the relative gains from the transaction, mapping closely to conservative Christian sexual mores. Under a performance model, the sexual interaction should be creative, positive and respectful even in the most casual of circumstances.

The essay is great, and now, you can watch this adorable little video that explains why good sex is just like a good jam session.

Via Yes Means Yes!

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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  • Jennifer

    That book is a definite must read. While some essays will speak to you more than others depending on where you are, they were all fairly good. A few were harder to read than others. The essay that the video compliments was one of the ones that spoke to me most. Great video, thank-you for sharing!