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Salon Reviews What Your Really Really Want

October 31, 2011

This blog is a direct outgrowth of the book, Yes Means Yes.  In turn, the conversations that book sparked led to Jaclyn Friedman’s second book, just out, What You Really Really Want.  It was the sort of book that really needed to exist, and because it didn’t, she wrote it.  I don’t pretend to any objectivity here, because Jaclyn is my friend and frequent collaborator (and also because I wrote the online supplemental essay to the book, How To Be Good To The Women In Your Life, meant to be read principally by a man in the life of the book purchaser.)

I read much of the book in draft form and I’ll just say that I loved it from the start.  But now the reviews are coming in, and people much less attached to Jaclyn and people not so nearly lockstep with her views as I am seem to be agreeing with me:  this is a book that needed to exist.  Anyone can pretend to have answers, but Jaclyn’s too wise to think that her answers work for everyone.  So she provides something much more valuable:  tools for women to find their own answers.  It’s a workbook, full of writing exercises to cut through layers of cultural programming and make a journey inward.

Salon’s Tracy Clark-Flory briefly reviewed the book and interviewed Jaclyn here.  I think the subtitle of the article summarizes it best:

“In an age of Pussycat Dolls and porn, Jaclyn Friedman wants to help young women find an authentic sexual identity”.  That’s in, in a nutshell.  People who have agendas for women’s sexuality other than self-determination may tell you all kinds of things about what Jaclyn means to do; ignore them.  That one sentence from Salon has it exactly right.  Jaclyn wants to help young woman find an authentic sexual identity.

Who could be against that?  Well, if you’re reading here, the answer to that comes easily.  More to the point, why should anyone listen to someone who is against that?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2011 11:56 am

    I haven’t read Freeman’s book yet, but I did read your essay “How To Be Good To the Women In Your Life”.

    Do you actually expect men to read that finger wagging judgmental lecture and even listen to one word of it?

    I’m sure there is a certain type of very damaged hopelessly timid man, broken down by years of childhood abuse and unwilling to stand up for himself who would listen to that essay.

    The thing is, guys like that who happen to be straight usually have tremendous difficulty finding a partner. This is precisely because of the fact that, due to their abuse, they can’t function in this society’s version of masculinity.

    This article wouldn’t serve those guys at all, precisely because they are just about the safest men out there and pose no danger to women. All this article would do is make them feel really bad about themselves.

    As for the rest of straight men, I don’t see them listening to a word you say. Any straight man self confident enough to actually have regular relationships with women would be insulted by your lectury, judgy, arrogant tone. They’d hit the DELETE key long before reading to the last paragraph of your five page screed.

    Your essay reads like a Hugo Schweitzer/Robert Jensen article.

    I’m sure a lot of feminist minded women will just LOVE this piece. It will get emailed around a lot among that audience.

    Some of them will even inflict it on their brothers/male friends/boyfriends/husbands.

    They will be truly astonished when the men in their lives totally hate the article and find it incredibly insulting.

    Let’s be real, straight men who are successful with women (in the narrow sexual sense of that term) learn early and well that, generally speaking, being nice to women gets you friend zoned, being aloof, cocky and borderline disrespectful gets you laid.

    Reading your essay won’t convince this audience otherwise. They have a mountain of evidence telling them that being respectful to women is not a good strategy for having an active sex life (measured by number of partners).

    Caring about how women feel, or even if they consent, is NOT a requirement for getting laid – often, it can be an OBSTACLE to achieving that goal.

    Perhaps if the article were more honest, it would help.

    I would have pointed out that, if you want to be a good person who treats your fellow human beings decently, regardless of gender, that’s an important life goal.

    However, it will actively get in the way of you getting laid ESPECIALLY with the many women who believe in patriarchy and male chauvinism as strongly as the most sexist men do.

    Basically, you can treat women respectfully or you can get a lot of sex, but you really can’t do both.


    • October 31, 2011 12:18 pm

      Gregory, as long as you believe this, “Basically, you can treat women respectfully or you can get a lot of sex, but you really can’t do both,” you and I are not going to agree on very much about sexuality and gender. I’ll tell you that this has just not been my experience.

    • naru permalink
      October 31, 2011 5:39 pm

      I have two ex boyfriends. The one that I had the most sex with and who I enjoyed sex with more, is a feminist, and your textbook kind, caring guy. His personality had everything to do with him getting laid more often than my other ex, who was a bigoted jerk.

    • Jericka permalink
      October 31, 2011 7:07 pm

      Gregory, You have a view of women that is skewed by your perception of them as Other. I am not a member of some foreign species to be tricked or caught. I am a person with very similar needs to the other people in my life. Some are men, and some are women.

      I happen to like sex, but, I don’t like to risk myself with people who disrespect my boundaries. The last guy I stopped seeing I stopped because he disregarded my boundaries. I don’t date guys that I consider to be unsafe, but, I do date and have sex with guys that treat me well. They treat me like a PERSON like themselves, and value my pleasure as much as their own.

      You can have your opinion. I doubt I can change a shred of your mind. Your view does not fit my reality.

    • November 1, 2011 12:28 pm

      Greg: I am a “nice straight guy”.

      I have had no problems finding partners being a nice guy.

      My personal experiences disprove your theory.

      Have a good day.

    • November 1, 2011 8:48 pm

      Even if we assume that what you are saying about being a dick = getting laid is correct (it’s not), you would only have a point if most straight men think that it’s more important for them to get their dicks wet than to care about the people close to them, as you seem to.

      Fortunately, I know too many straight men who genuinely care about an love the women in their life (and the men!) to take your rant for anything other than the entitled, egocentric ravings they are.

  2. garrett permalink
    November 6, 2011 2:37 pm

    I do understand what all the subsequent comments are making obvious here, and I will say it was somewhat important for me to see all those opinions.

    I do believe it would be somewhat inwardly focused to agree completely with Gregory’s sentiment. It is one that believes that who you are is infallible and someone else, women or the way society and men raise women, allow them to ignore these passive friendly men over the aggressive confident alpha-male.

    However, I did click on the comments to see a discussion. I am someone who generally selfishly buys into that opinion. Not after I’ve been set straight by all the people who followed that comment here. And they are right to an extent. It can’t be black & white.

    But I was hoping to see discussion. Everyone else shouldn’t have fought back against his thoughts. I’d like to see more opinions. Try and explain how you might understand what he’s saying. Put yourself in that character’s shoes. Remove yourself and then give your original opinion.

    As humans we learn though experience. So I do believe his and my experience have some validation, however self centered it may be. Women have tried to be my friend, then when I don’t make any further advances, the friendship dwindles. It leaves several possibilities. They had ulterior motives. All relationships might be based on sex. Certainly possible is that I’m simply not as enjoyable a friend as I presume myself to be. Maybe unconsciously I give people the idea that I am not as interested in their friendship as they are in mine. I believe it is the latter. But egos get hurt, and then try to rationalize. Such is humanity.
    Who knows? The point I believe is that most of you here are correct. It probably isn’t womankind’s fault Gregory and my experience has led us to a particular opinion. But if anyone does come across this sentiment, I would appreciate you treat us as someone willing to learn. Don’t become so inwardly defensive. Sit us down and correct us. And try to understand where we are coming from first.

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