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Friedman will visit SDSU on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Friedman will visit SDSU on Wednesday, Nov. 4.
 


Empowering Women to Challenge Sexual Norms

Nationally-recognized feminist writer and advocate Jaclyn Friedman will speak about the power of positive, authentic sexuality.
By Mallory Black
 

Women’s activist Jaclyn Friedman will speak at San Diego State University on Wednesday, Nov. 4, leading a conversation about how positive sexuality can be a powerful tool in helping to reverse the effects of sexual violence in society.

As co-editor of the book, “Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape,” Friedman has helped reframe the narrative around consent on college campuses across the nation. Her work also helped to spur another movement that clarifies consent laws in states, including California, by requiring “affirmative consent,” meaning both parties affirmatively, voluntarily and consciously agree to sexual activity.

SDSU Women’s Resource Center Coordinator Jessica Nare said there has been an important focus on preventing sexual violence over the last few years, and that Friedman’s advocacy around the affirmative “yes means yes” consent standard is important for everyone to hear.

“A lot of Jaclyn's messaging is around empowering people to tap into their bodies and their sexuality in a way that is positive and authentic,” Nare said. “Part of her talk will also debunk and pull apart some of the damaging messages that we get about sexuality so that we can move forward and embrace healthy forms of relationships and intimacy.”

Freidman’s talk, “State of Play: Sex in America — Beyond Prudes, Sluts and Players,” will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday in Montezuma Hall in the Conrad Prebys Aztec Student Union. Numerous campus partners, including the Women’s Resource Center, Associated Students, Health Promotion, and the university’s Let’s Talk initiative are sponsoring the discussion.

About Friedman

A former guest on CNN and MSNBC, Freidman is considered a key player when it comes to changing the perception of women's sexuality and clarifying positive consent to stem the tide of sexual violence. She has also written extensively on the subjects of consent and sexual violence for The Washington Post, The Nation and The Huffington Post.

California was the first state to implement the “yes means yes” standard last year. Traditionally consent laws have placed the burden on the victim to prove sexual assault and whether they consented to sexual activity.

Friedman advocates saying “no” is not enough when considering other factors such as intimidation, silence and fear. Instead, Friedman argues, laws should focus on an affirmative “yes” when consenting to sexual activity — a model that empowers women to define and embrace their own sexuality.

Kimala Price, associate professor in SDSU’s Department of Women’s Studies, teaches from Friedman’s book in the course, “Women’s Sexuality and the Body.” Price said Friedman’s influence encourages young women to develop their own sexual identity without shame, while challenging society’s notions about women’s sexuality.

“Jaclyn brings a lot into this conversation about how we can incorporate positive sexuality into our own teachings, how we approach programs and resources that support survivors of sexual violence, as well as how we develop workshops for students,” Price said. “Even for faculty members, they might want to bring these subjects up in classes, so we know we need a multi-prong approach when it comes to these issues.”  

Queena Tran, a senior women’s studies major at SDSU and president of the Andrea O’Donnell’s Womyn’s Outreach Association, said one of the greatest challenges in addressing consent on college campuses is a bigger problem rooted in the sexualization of women: “slut-shaming” — when a woman’s sexuality is shamed and attacked by her peers.

“People think slut-shaming is funny, but they don’t realize where that comes from and how it affects the other person,” Tran said. “As adults, we need to be aware of how we impact each others’ self-esteem.”