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From the Yes Means Yes blog: “Mythcommunication: It’s Not That They Don’t Understand, They Just Don’t Like the Answer.”

Here Thomas talks about how we (especially women) have been socialized against saying the word “NO” as we’re taught that it’s rude. Women are socialized to care for others, especially men. To care for their feelings, their egos, their sense of rejection. I remember being terrified The Musician would feel rejected, and I didn’t want him to feel rejected because I liked him and it was a moral decision, not whether or not I fancied him. Although I even said NO several times, most of what I said sounded more like this: “I really can’t.” — “It wouldn’t be fair to your partner.” — “By asking me to do this you’re asking me to go against who I am.” — “I’ve just recently been very hurt and I’m not anxious to go there again.” — “I’m really attracted to you, but I just can’t. It’s against my agreement with my husband.”

Any of those things a person with integrity and who, you know, actually cared about the other human being, would understand those things as clear NOs. He understood, too. He just didn’t like the answer. Continue reading

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There’s a Crack in Everything…

There’s a Crack in Everything, That’s How the Light Gets In” Brilliant post below, one of many in Thomas’s series “There’s a War On” on Yes Means Yes. In this one he talks about consent, blowing boundaries, and the importance of After-Care Respect. Although he speaks mostly about the BDSM community, what he says can be utilized in all communities and in all sexual interactions. He speaks especially about the importance of having a conversation with the “tops,” or in the case of non-BDSM sex, the one who has been named for perpetrating some sort of sexualized violence. It’s not about punishment or even necessarily ostracism, it’s about self-improvement and caring for another human being who has been hurt and/or violated. It’s in this questioning and communication that we, as a community, separate the abusers (who we want out of our community) and those who just blew a boundary or fucked up. Here’s an excerpt:

Self-Improvement for Tops: To Err Is Human, To Get Defensive Is Counterproductive Aftercare isn’t only the part that looks after the bottom’s emotional needs.  On my account, properly understood, aftercare has three components: the bottom’s emotional needs, the top’s emotional needs, and post-scene learning.  Some folks don’t need a lot of aftercare for their emotional needs.  Some tops don’t really get top drop, some bottoms don’t need or even want a lot of looking after, but there’s always room to learn something.  One dominant I know always asks her bottoms, “Was there anything I did that you were not comfortable with?” and “Was there anything I did that you wish I hadn’t done?”  This tends to work better after the initial rush of hormones and emotions from play has a chance to settle down, and lots of people do following-day check-ins, especially after big scenes. There are two things to be accomplished here.  The first is for the tops themselves.  I top too, and with just one partner for over a decade.  You know what?  I am still learning.  We push, we talk, we learn, we try things.  I make mistakes!  Yes, I do!  And we talk about them.  Technical errors, miscommunications, and even landmines, as I discussed in Part 5.  Ignoring these things or pretending they don’t need to be discussed doesn’t do anyone any good. Continue reading

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Performance vs. Commodity

By far, my favorite essay in Yes Mean Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power & a World Without Rape is “Toward a Performance Model of Sex,” written by my hero Thomas Macaulay Millar

Excerpt, emphasis mine:

The commodity model assumes that when a woman has sex, she loses something of value. If she engages in too much sex, she will be left with nothing of value. It further assumes that sex earlier in her history is more valuable than sex later…. But a musician’s first halting notes at age thirteen in the basement are not something of particular value. Only an obsessive completist would want a recording of a young musician’s practice before she knew what she was doing… She gets better by learning, by playing a lot, by playing with different people that are better than she is. She reaches the height of her powers in the prime of her life, as an experienced musician, confident in her style and conversant in her material. Her experience and proven talent are precisely why she is valued.

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. Continue reading

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Filed under Hope, Misogyny, Objectification, Rape Culture