Episode 42: Consent is Actually Sexy with Jaclyn Friedman


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Ev’Yan: Hey, everyone. I'm Evan Whitney. And this is the Sexually Liberated Woman. I'm feeling so good this week. And that's partially due to the fact that I just ended my period like 24 hours ago. And also because I am riding the buzz of some amazing things that have been happening to me lately. I just got back from New York where I spoke about sex and intimacy with The Girl Mom. And then my conversation about sexual wellness and sexual self care with Black Girl In Om came out a few days later, which you've got to check that one out, because it will literally change your life. I know that sounds hyperbolic, but this conversation will change your life. I will put the link to that Black Girl In Om podcast episode in the show notes. And then I was featured on Esquire where I spoke openly about what I was taught in sex education, alongside some amazing and rad, queer and trans folks of color, which I'll also put a link to so you can check that.

Actually, one of the things I mentioned in that feature was how in my abstinence only sex education and I'm putting massive air quotes around that. One of the major things missing within that sex education was consent, what it is, what it looks like, and how it's important that my humanity is considered within every sexual experience I have. Consent was never discussed within my sexual education. I even said within the interview that I wish someone would have sat me down and talk to me about what healthy sexual dynamics looked like. Because I think if they had, I probably would have broken up with my sexually abusive ex boyfriend a long time ago.

But anyway, I've been thinking a lot about consent these days, as I've been trying to bring more of it into all of my relationships, both the sexual kind and platonic kind. And since so much of my head space is being occupied right now around consent, and the ways I can feel safer and also give safety to my lovers in my sexual relationships. And also because I've been wanting to talk about this on the Sexually Liberated Woman for a while now. I asked the incredible Jaclyn Friedman to come on and give us a lesson on what she calls affirmative consent. You might be familiar with Jaclyn's work she co wrote the iconic anthology Yes Means Yes with Jessica Valenti, which is all about what sexual power and freedom looks like outside of rape culture. She wrote another book that she penned herself called What You Really Really Want, which book title goals, right. And she also has a podcast called Unscrewed, which is one of my faves and I highly recommend you add it to your listen list.

Jaclyn's work has been paramount to my own sexual liberation and healing. And her work has been an excellent resource that I share with all of my clients who are also wanting education about consent, and validation about their experiences as survivors. Actually, when I first started this podcast way, way back in the day, I wrote this list in one of my journals of all the dream guests I wanted to have on the show, and Jaclyn was at the very top of that list. So believe me when I tell you that it was a serious honor and a literal dream come true, to chat with her in real time and to hear her wisdom. There are so many gems in this episode, so many gems. So I'm going to stop talking and let you dig in. Actually, I'd recommend that you bookmark this episode, because the things that we unpack here should be listened to again and again, and should be introduced into any conversation you are having with your lovers or your friends about consent. All right, enough of me and my jabbering. I am seriously going to stop talking now and let you enjoy this episode. I hope you love it as much as I do.


Ev’Yan: Jaclyn, I'm so excited to have you on the podcast. Thank you so much for being on the Sexually Liberated Woman.

Jaclyn: I'm so excited to be here.

Ev'Yan: Yeah. So before we get started, I just want to say that Yes Means Yes has been an amazing book and resource for me personally, and also for my clients who have experienced any kind of sexual trauma. And I also know that Yes Means Yes, recently turn 10 years old, which is wild to me. And I was listening to your podcast Unscrewed, and you were talking to Jessica Valenti about this milestone of reaching 10 years and kind of walking down memory lane of how this book even came to be, and things like that. And I wanted to ask you, did you have any idea that this book would become the icon that it is today?

Jaclyn: No, no, not at all. And totally the opposite! Like, we really quite explicitly thought that it was going to be trying to push the discourse on the left a little bit, and that we hoped it would sort of slowly trickle into the culture that we just we felt like what we were saying, honestly, was pretty bold and radical for the time.

Ev'Yan: Yeah.

Jaclyn: And so we thought nobody puts together a feminist anthology about sexual violence, because they think it's going to be a best seller. I guess I'll just say that.

Ev'Yan: Right. Yeah.

Jaclyn: Especially not in 2008. We were not doing that.

Ev'Yan: Yeah.

Jaclyn: I was the most surprised out of anybody, honestly. And I, I told this story on my show, but I'll tell you, for your, your listeners, like it was named in late 2009, to Publishers Weekly, which is sort of like the industry mag of the publishing business to their top 100 Books of the Year list, which is an incredible, insane honor.

Ev'Yan: Yeah.

Jaclyn: When I saw the notification on my phone, that actually was about that, you know, when you get a notification, you only see like a few of the words in the article, you don't see the whole thing. And I just saw enough to see that it was about the PW top 100 books list. And I literally thought, and this was after the book had been out for almost a year and had really made an impact. But I still like, I was like, oh, that's so nice. Like PWcame out with their list. And somebody else must have like, been inspired that by that to make their own list of their top 100 books the year. And we are clearly on that nice persons list. I wonder who it is. It did not occur to me that we were on actual Publishers Weekly's list and it I stared at it for a good long while before I couldn't dismiss all that that was what was happening.

Ev'Yan: Oh my gosh, I can't even I mean, I can't imagine what that must have been like to be like, wow, to watch this, this book, like explode and reach, like critical mass. I mean, like the fact that you guys have laws named after this book. It's wild.

Jaclyn: It's wonderful. I mean, one of the main lessons it's taught me is, A, to not underestimate your own vision. Like you don't get to be the judge of the value of the thing you have to say in the world. You know, if I had gotten to be the person who determined how important what I had to say was in this book, it would have been, I would have liked, would have had a minor, little feminist anthology that a few people outside feminist circles read, but because I don't get to decide that it really made this enormous impact. And it's really taught me to not underestimate my own vision.

Ev'Yan: Yeah. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad that you did. No, because I mean, like I said, this book is, is so impressive. It's been an amazing resource to me. And it's been an amazing resource to the clients that I work with.

Jaclyn: I'm every time I hear something like that, it just makes me feel so fulfilled. I think it's the right word. Like I feel like I'm, I'm earning my rent on the planet. Okay, you know, I'm like, I'm, yeah, that feels amazing to me. Like, that feels amazing. Like, honestly, there's a Jewish proverb that says, basically, like, if you change one life, you change the world. And I really feel like that about every single one individual story I hear from like, one person, like, makes me feel like I've changed the world.

Ev'Yan: Yeah, and you most certainly have. Okay, so I want to talk about consent. It's something that I think about a lot, both personally. And professionally, I've been having a lot of conversations about consent, recently within my own sex life. And also, as I've been talking to clients of mine who want to have better talks about sex and sexuality within their relationships. And before I get into this, I want to know, like, where, where did you first learn about consent?

Jaclyn: I learned about the idea of affirmative consent, which we were then calling enthusiastic consent, and we'll talk about that language shift if you want.

Ev’Yan: Yeah, I would love to hear that.

Jaclyn: I learned about it. The first time I seriously learned about it was in the comment sections of like the feminist blogs, I was reading in like 2006, 2007, there were enormous, like robust conversations about different ethics of sexuality and consent. And it was, it was a really wonderful, I mean, look, the feminist blogosphere was also a hot nightmare in many ways. But it was a really, really robust conversation that was going on in multiple directions, and anybody could jump in. And it really was wonderful. Now, I like a lot of people who were old enough to be aware then had certainly heard the idea of affirmative consent introduced in the early 90s, when students at Antioch tried to make it policy. And as far as I'm aware that the folks who really invented or innovated the ideal though, it's possible that history goes back further, and I'm just not aware of it. But when they introduced it at Antioch, it was it became a national joke. You know, it was literally parodied on SNL. And it was this idea that like, oh, if you want to touch my left breast, you have to get that notarized, you know, like a notary public. And it, it was, it was marked as sort of unrealistic, and unworkable and prudish and you know, all of these things and kind of went back underground for all of the 90s. When I first encountered serious conversations about it, in the sort of mid 2000s, is I'd heard the idea before, but literally never thought deeply about it, because it had been treated like a joke, and I hadn't, I just hadn't engaged with it very deeply.

Ev'Yan: Okay, so what is the difference then between affirmative consent and enthusiastic consent? Because I'm more familiar with enthusiastic consent? And yeah, why did the language change?

Jaclyn: Affirmative consent is the legalistic frame of enthusiastic consent. So because you can't measure enthusiasm in the law, appropriately, right. You can't, the law really make a decision about how enthusiastic somebody is. They can shift burden from sort of negative consent, like it's on you to say no to affirmative consent, which is, "Did you hear 'yes'?", it's the much more legalistic term. And it's become a lot more popular in discourse, as enthusiastic consent has become codified both in law and also in the code of conduct on thousands and thousands of college campuses, I would imagine at this point, and that's great. Like, I'm super excited that there are laws and also, you know, codes of conduct and that it's getting codified, but it also tends to get flattened in the translation. You know, and the thing that I'm thinking about a lot on this 10 year anniversary is, you know, Yes Means Yes, was really a robust conversation about shifting the ethics of sex, right, the moral philosophy of sex to one that assumes that everyone is equally deserving of pleasure and sovereignty, and that we're all have an active responsibility to take care of each other on a basic level, if we're interacting sexually, that we all have, actually an affirmative obligation toward each other. And when enthusiastic consent gets codified into affirmative consent, it becomes like, a little bit more like a checkbox, which consent should never be like a little bit more like, make sure you get consent, like, instead of like, well, what does it mean that women feel less comfortable saying yes than no. And how do we shift that? And how do we shift from an acquisition mindset that a lot of men have about sex to one where it's an interactive, you know, mutual exchange, like what does it mean that women of color, are almost never afforded the concept of innocence? Right, when they even when their children, you know, and how does that impact your relationship to saying yes, and no to different kinds of things around sex, you know, like, all of that contextual stuff gets sort of falls out of the conversation, which was a huge part of our Anthology, it falls out of the conversation, when it gets sort of boiled down to like, are you living to the letter of the law or not? Right, the spirit of the law that's lost. And and that's kind of the thing that I'm thinking a lot about these days is like, how do we get back? You know, I feel like consent has become a little bit a victim of its own success, and how do we get back to that really robust, challenging discourse? Really, if we take it truly, seriously, require social transformation?

Ev'Yan: Yeah, one of the things that you have said before is this notion of affirmative consent, being a sort of moral philosophy of sex. And I wonder, like what that looks like in practice?

Jaclyn: Right, so affirmative consent as a moral philosophy means that we are each sovereign over our own bodies. And we are all equal to each other and equally deserving of pleasure, and also the respect of our own boundaries. And that sounds very simple. But in practice, it impacts literally everything, right? Like, it impacts our cultural definitions of masculinity, and our cultural concept of masculinity, which require power over instead of power with, you know, it impacts our ideas of what it means to be a woman and sort of saying, like, it does not reflect on our moral character, if we like, what literally whatever kind of sex we like, right, that we are, that sovereignty for women doesn't just mean, you have to not be violated, right. But our pleasure is a right. It means a lot of really upsetting stuff, it means that YouTube shouldn't be able to make a profit off of up skirt photos, right? You know, it means a lot of like big social upheaval things too. But at the root, it really is a call to humanize our sexual interactions. So it's a call for us to see each other as co equal participants when we're interacting sexually, so that it's a mutual engagement and a collab, creative collaboration, as opposed to how so much sex gets framed as sort of the who's giving it up, and who's getting some us, you know, as a commodity exchange,

Ev'Yan: Right, right. Yeah, that's something that I've been playing around with a lot in my relationship, my husband and I have been together for over 12 years. And I think initially, when I was thinking about consent within sexual relationships, I was of the belief that it's like a one and done kind of thing, like, you know, you, you have, like, I give you consent when we first meet and when we first have our sexual experience together, and that consent is like, totally valid for the entire time until someone speaks up about it. And I've been really thinking about what it would look like to bring consent as a constant conversation within my relationship, not just on my side of things, because I have been sexually traumatized, but also on his things to make sure that he feels that he is being thought of, that he is being respected, that his wants, needs and desires are being met, and that his pleasure is also being taken into consideration. And I love that model, because it just feels way more holistic, more more feasible. And I love having consent, being more of a conversation rather than like, okay, this is a contractual agreement that we come back to once a year, or once every five years or whatever. And I've been thinking about that in terms of like consent apps, and how like, you know, this, it was, it was like, this idea that came up, like, I hear you're making noises. And so I want to know, like, where were those noises coming from? How are you feeling about it?

Jaclyn: I hate consent apps so much. I hate them. Yeah. So they're so dangerous. And honestly, the only good they're ever going to do is for rapists, right? So I can 100% imagine a situation in which two people record their consent in a consent app, and then go on to interact sexually, and somebody says, Stop, no, or just checks out or whatever. And somebody else proceeds and just plows over that other person's humanity. And then they go to a court or a, you know, judicial process on campus. And they say, here's the consent app, that my partner said, yes, so it was clearly consensual, you cannot consent to sex in a checkbox. You look, it's a profound misunderstanding of how consent works. Real consent means you have to pay attention to your partner, the whole time, you're interacting sexually, the whole time, you have to show up on a basic human level, I'm not talking about marital commitment, or although if you want to have said, you know, I'm all for people having sex in that with conflict, you know, while married, but also, even if it's a one night stand, right? Like it's the same rules for everybody, you have to show up and pay attention to the person you're interacting with. And if you can't tell if they're into it, you have to ask you have to check in. And a consent app doesn't understand any of that, and in fact, propagate the idea that consent is a thing that you can acquire and have done with instead of it being part an intrinsic part of the sexual interaction.

Ev'Yan: Yes.

Jaclyn: Consent is not something you can get out of the way.

Ev'Yan: Right, right. Yes, yeah. When I saw, when I saw these apps rolling out, I was like, this seems like, like, I get maybe where they're trying to go with it. But this doesn't seem like the way to do it.

Jaclyn: What even, I don't mean to get metaphysical on you, but like, what is sex, like, what are we consenting to? Have we discussed what positions? Have we discussed what kind of birth control? Have we discussed for how long? Have we discussed what happens if I get a leg cramp? Have we discussed what kind of language you like to use in bed? There's a million things. You know, sex isn't like one thing. And so saying I consent to have sex with someone is genuinely meaningless.

Ev’Yan: Right! Yeah. Like, what does it mean? Like, there's so many different definitions of sex, there's so many different sex acts that you can do. Yeah, it makes so much sense.

Jaclyn: And even if I do consent to doing a particular sex, or like, what if it turns out you're bad at it, or I suddenly feel dry? Or like, you know, bored or like, it doesn't mean I can never want to stop doing that? You know, because sex takes place throughout the time space continuum, right. So any concept of consent, that has to do with like, getting it handled, and then having sex is not just wrong, but profoundly dangerous.

Ev’Yan: Yes. Okay. So I want to know, how can we begin to bring more consent into our sexual relationships? Like, what does that look like? I mean, obviously, I have lots of ideas. But like, I want to hear what, what you think.

Jaclyn: I mean, there are a number of things, that the first thing that we have to do, and I think the hardest thing, honestly, is start with ourselves, right? So if we're going to start having sex, where we're paying attention to what our partner wants and needs, and they're paying attention to what we want and need sort of ongoing throughout the interaction, we are at some point going to need to say, I want this and I don't want that. More of this, less of that, slightly to the left, please. Right, like, harder or softer, right? I think for women, especially, we are raised, not to think about that. And if we do have opinions about what we want sexually, we certainly raised not to speak up about them. Yeah, real reasons. Right? It would be having to do with shame and fear being blamed if someone violates us. And you know, like, there are real punishments for that, for a lot of women, let's not, doesn't come from nowhere. But we have to really start by unpacking what it is that we want for ourselves sexually, and not in the way that we're going to get some grand unified answer and have that be done. I really think that the answer in terms of what we want, you know, can shift from stage of life to stage of life, but also like, minute to minute, depending on the interaction, right?

Ev’Yan: Totally, totally and depending on the person too.

Jaclyn: But like getting fluent with what we like and desire, what we don't like and don't want, and getting to know how to know that is some of the most important work that we can do. And that's what I wrote my second book, What You Really Really Want, is for is actually to help women do that work of sort of unpacking and self discovery. That's a, that's a big piece of it, because hopefully, we're going to have partners who are saying, are you into this, right? I really want to do X, you know, like, how do you feel about that, and we want to feel free to have answers and express them. And that brings me to the second thing that we need to do is we need to learn to communicate with our sex partners about sex. Which sounds ridiculous, but we have this weird taboo in the US, especially where we're supposed to be thinking and talking about sex all the time, except for with the people that were fucking

Ev'Yan: Yes. Oh, my God speak on it.

Jaclyn: Which is deranged? If you think about it for a minute, right? Just totally nuts like, but there's this idea, this totally wrong idea that talking about sex makes it unsexy, or like ruins the mood?

Ev'Yan: Yes, I actually want to talk about that for a second. Because it's it's one thing I hear this a lot within the conversations I have with my friends, my clients, even this conversation that I had with my partner recently where we were talking about consent, and I had just recently gotten triggered, re triggered by the sex that we were having. And in that moment, I started thinking like, what what could have been some ways that I could have prevented that where, you know, it wasn't as big of a deal as it ended up being because for me, rather than listening to my body, and myself, I ended up continuing to have sex anyway. And then it just got into this huge emotional mess. And so I, I did this, this sort of inner reflection of like, okay, what could I have done in that moment? How could I have spoken up about my own needs in that moment, so that my partner would know, could get those cues from me that I could speak up in that way, so that it didn't have to get so bad. And so basically, we had this the sit down conversation, and it was a really beautiful conversation, and I ended up asking him, like, hey, so I think that we need to have certain checkpoints within our sexual interaction. So whenever I'm okay with making out I don't ever really feel triggered by making out but anytime you start touching me under my clothes, I'm going to need you to ask me, are you okay with this? Is this good with you? Do you want this? As a way to, one, put me back into my body? And two, have you affirm to me and how me asked my own self, do I want this? Okay, yes, it's a yes. And then I can keep moving forward. And so we have this really beautiful conversation, and it was feeling really, like, amazing. And then we started having sex. And I noticed after a few times of having sex, I'm like, hm, this is interesting. I haven't noticed that you have been checking in, like, you know, this is something that I want to do, and it's something that's going to make me feel more comfortable with you. Why haven't you been checking in? And his response was, it just feels like it takes us both out of the moment. It takes me out of the moment, because I'm in the flow with you. I just want to basically I mean, he wasn't saying this, but and not so many words. He was saying like, I just I want to have sex with you. And like if I have to take a pause and think about the phrasing of that question, because the phrasing of that question was really important and think about the checkpoints and where he's touching me, he's like, it's just a lot of thinking and so and I hear that a lot from people who are like, oh consent, it's like really great and everything but like, just really kills the vibe. I'm like, it doesn't have to that like not in my opinion.

Jaclyn: And in comparison to what? I mean it sounds like kill the vibe way more when you didn't have space to speak up and you got really triggered, that really killed the writing vibe. Trauma is what really kills the fucking vibe. Right? And so yeah, yeah, I always say like, as opposed to what? Right like as opposed to just plowing ahead and possibly really hurting your partner? Like that's how you kill the goddamn vibe. So I want to erase the idea that there's some option in which we can not talk with our partners about sex while we're having sex and not kill the vibe, because that's not an option and already what's happening and many of us are having our vibes killed by trauma. That construction it really erases the vibe killing factor of sexual trauma, which is mostly, which is disproportionately borne by women.

Ev'Yan: Right. And it also makes me think that like once the vibe is quote, unquote, killed, it's not like it can never come back.

Jaclyn: I think we all need to loosen up about sex and not make it quite so precious. We need to realize that we could say something wrong. And you could both laugh and be like, wow, that was clunky, ha, ha, ha, and then like, go back to like, maybe take a step back, start making out again, and like, pick it up, where you left off. That's way less vibe killing than getting triggered, right? Laughing during sex,sex is sort of inherently ridiculous. I think laughing during sex is fun. And like reminds you that your interaction with a human like, I feel like we all think we have to get into this performance mindset when it, when we get sexy with somebody that we're like, playing the sexy version of ourselves. You know, and we don't want to break character. But it's actually hotter. I think if you can have sex, just like as yourself, and like hyper sexy of yourself. I mean, I'm not, I'm all for role playing, as long as that's negotiated and consensual, I'm not talking about actual role playing. But the idea that like, once like, the juices start flowing, you have to be like super serious sex people. I think really, like it's a lot of actual pressure that we don't have to be carrying. But the other thing I'd say is like, it's really easy to erotica, eroticized boundary checks, right? So instead of saying, "Are you okay with this", he could say, "I really want to take your shirt off, so I can see your breasts" or whatever language might be good for him, right? Like in a sexy voice, like, looking you in the eye and waiting for your response to that, like, that's not a vibe killing, that's like him expressing his desire for you. And then a space for you to decide how you want to respond to it. My advice always is like, drop your voice, an octave and just express a desire. Express desire without acting on it, right? Yes, really easy boundary track, in terms of checking in with somebody else, like if you want to do something, and you don't know if your partner wants to go along, it's literally like, drop your voice and octave and express your desire without acting on it. And wait for a response, it's not rocket science. The thing I say to people who are not convinced is like, the phone sex industry exists for a reason. And that reason it is, is that it can be very sexy to talk about sex.

Ev'Yan: That's such a good reminder.

Jaclyn: And incorporating dirty talk into your boundary tracks is I think, can be a really fun approach.

Ev'Yan: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was one of the reasons why I told him that. I wanted the phrasing to be very specific to like, and I know, in my initial example, I said, like, Is this okay with you? Which actually wasn't the phrasing that I wanted to use? It was more like, do you want this? But I like that question of "do you want this?" Because there is that like, there is something very sexy and sensual about that question. But it also is a legitimate question that I can check in on my own body and be like, do I want this? Oh, yes, I do. Actually, yes. And then I can say, yes, in that moment, and like how empowering that is, for me to be asked that question as a way to check in with my body, and then give that response of "yes". Because so often, in my sexual experiences, I wasn't allowed to have a voice like I wasn't, it wasn't collaborative, it was just like, okay, I'm sort of like, a thing that you are using to fill your sexual fantasies and desires into, versus like, oh, this is a person and I want to ask this person if she is okay with this. And also give her permission to say yes. Which I mean, I'm all about that. Like that, to me feels so much better than, yeah, then then other ways of asking, you know.

Jaclyn: I think as women, a lot of us have been taught that our value lies in being desired, specifically by men, as opposed to by expressing and pursuing our own desires. Now, and there's a big difference, I used to when I was young, I confuse those two things. And I've, I felt like being desired was the best possible thing, right. And I, I didn't think about what I wanted, I just wanted to be desired. And I still, honestly, we're being real, real here. Like, I still feel like that because it's sort of how my brain got wired around this stuff, which makes me kind of subby and not as fine. Right? Like, you can express that consensual way, right? Like you can, I always say, and I talked about this a little in What You Really Really Want, like, the point of unpacking, like how you were raised and what you're hidden assumptions are about your sexuality and your sexual desire isn't to get to some point where you're like, a blank slate pre influenced, because that's impossible, right? None of us can know, who would we would be if we've been raised with a different set of influences. The point is to like, become aware of what all those influences are so that we can kind of tune ourselves I like to think about like a stereo equalizer, which I don't even know if everybody knows what that looks like anymore. But like, you know, like, maybe you want to, like bump up the bass and like turned out, you know, what I mean? You know, what those thought patterns are and what those hidden assumptions are, where they come from, it's easier to figure out how to play with them in a way that feels good to you, as opposed to be sort of controlled by them.

Ev'Yan: Yes, so much wisdom. I love this.

Jaclyn: I mean, that's literally why I like, you know, when I'm sitting with somebody for them to say, as a boundary check, like, I want to do X, right, like expressing their desire to do something with me is like really hot for me because it's just down deep in my monkey brain, like the value of being desired, right, which I have mixed feelings about. But there it is, and I'm well, have fun with it.


Ev'Yan: The Sexually Liberated Woman, celebrates sexual liberation and since you're listening to this podcast, I think safe for me to assume that you want to be about this life.

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If you're ready to be sexually free, go to evyanwhitney.com/shop and start your sexual liberation journey today. I'll see you there.


Ev’Yan: One aspect of this that I'm wondering about is, because I mean, we're talking about saying yes, which I love. But what about that part where someone is asking you like, I'll just use the example of me and my partner, like, if he were to ask me, do you want this? And I check in with my body? And my body actually says no, but I don't feel okay with saying no. Either because like my partner hasn't made me feel comfortable to say no, or because I feel the guilt or shame attached with me letting him down. Like, I'm wondering, I'm wondering how we can create more environments for us to say no, as well, like what needs to happen within myself, and also what needs to happen between me and my partner, for him to create a safe space for me to say no.

Jaclyn: I mean, I think that a few things need to happen. One is, perhaps you and your partner can explore how to recover from that moment. Right? So if he says, can I something specific? And you say, no. Like, is it possible, are you going to still have sex? Like, are there other things you want to do together? And if there are, a wonderful way for you to do that? Well, which may make you feel less guilty is to say, I don't want to do that I want to do this other thing.

Ev'Yan: Like a counter offer?

Jaclyn: Yeah, so like, I want to keep my shirt on. But I really want to keep making out with you. So that there's a rejection. But there's an affirmation, it may be that you want to stop all together. And that is fine. But in the case where the desire isn't to stop all sexual interaction, but is just a note to that particular thing. That can be a really great way to frame it that will make both of you I think, a little more comfortable. Because also real talk like men are not taught how to be resilient in the face of sexual rejection.

Ev'Yan: Oh, no, they're not.

Jaclyn: And that "no" really may feel like you are saying no to his masculinity. I don't know your husband and I don't mean to cast aspersions on him. But like,

Ev'Yan: No, no, we can use him as an example, I mean, he's not like that at all. But like, I love that we're sort of using me as a living example of this right now.

Jaclyn: So one of the things you want to do is like, maybe talk in advance with like your husband about how it will feel to hear no. And what are ways that you can stay on the same team right after, even after you say no to a play for something sexual? And also let him know that it's hard for you to say no, even though, you know, in your brain, you can trust him like that. You know, have a real explicit talk with him, if you haven't on about how it may be that even if you don't want to do something, you're going to struggle to say no, and that's why affirmative consent is so important, right, that it gets us right, right back around to enthusiastic consent, which is he's not listening just for you to say no, and otherwise he has license to proceed. If he doesn't see, if he doesn't think that you're enthusiastic about what he has proposed. It doesn't happen. That's enthusiastic consent. Right. So if he sees you hesitate and struggle, like that's an answer. Right, that the two of you don't do anything together, that you're not both mutually, actually actively in into not just, not objecting to. And that's the reason that is so important is because women are so raised to both be alienated from our own desires and boundaries to not even know what they are. And also to be afraid to say no, and to take care of everybody's feelings before our own, especially men. And so that's part of why enthusiastic content is so important, is to make space for how hard it can be to say no sometimes and that we deserve partners who are paying attention, and only want to proceed if we're excited about something not just whether or not we're objecting.

Ev'Yan: Right, right. Yes. Ah, so good. So, so good. Okay, this is kind of a weird question. But I know that our media is not very good about portraying consent. And I wonder if there has ever been a show or a movie that has showed affirmative consent play out that you were really impressed with like, oh, wow, this is actually the way that it's done. What a great example.

Jaclyn: I'm super obsessed with the Netflix series Sex Education. Have you watched it?

Ev'Yan: Oh, my God, everyone keeps talking to me about this, I need to watch it.

Jaclyn: And I'm trying to remember if there's an explicit scene about affirmative, I honestly think they talk about consent, like just so casually and perfectly throughout the show that I can't think of a specific scene. You know, when somebody, my partner actually suggested we watch it, because he's a big Gillian Anderson fan from back in her X Files.

Ev'Yan: I love her! Girl crush forever.

Jaclyn: She is the hottest she has ever been. It is. It's intense. So he explained the premise to me, which is for folks who don't know, like, she plays a sex therapist and the sort of protagonist of the show there's two protagonists really is her son who's like 16, and super awkward and sexually inexperienced and kind of has been messed up by being raised by two sex therapists like parents who maybe have not taught the boundaries in the world which you learn as the song goes on. But he has absorbed so much just from being around them, that like he and this sort of like outside, very loner girl who was amazing. Her name is Maven, his, like, my, my hero now figures out that he actually is pretty good at giving sex advice. And she basically turns him into a high school sex therapist, like, she needs money. She's like, she's on her own and is supporting herself. And she's like, always looking for a hustle. And so she basically like, finds kids who need sex advice, and like, charges them and then they get time with this kid who has no license. I mean, it's not a good idea. And the shows doesn't think its a good idea, either, but it's hilarious and actually very poignant in a lot of places. But when I heard that description, I was like, okay, that's all in the execution, right? Like, whether I'm going to love or hate this show is all in what they think is good sex advice, and what they think is bad sex advice, right. And I literally at some point, during I don't know, Episode Five, like some of the way I literally turned my partner, I was like, did I had a stroke and, and write the show and forgot about it. I just love it so much. And so that's if you're looking for content that really gets sexual ethics, right. From consent on out. It's Sex Education on Netflix.

Ev'Yan: Amazing. Yeah. I think one of the reasons why I've haven't been watching it is because I've been really concerned that maybe, I mean, because you're so right, like sure, sex education, but from who's perspective, from what point of view, I've been a little like, I don't know if I want to go into this, but knowing that you gave it a rave review, I think I might give that a watch this weekend.

Jaclyn: I will say there's one plotline that sort of takes place in the last episode that I have an issue with that I'm not going to spoil you on, but I don't want you to be watching it and being Jaclyn thought this was great.

Ev'Yan: No, I'm gonna hold you to that.

Jaclyn: You'll know what it is when you see it. There's one plotline that I have issues with. But otherwise, it is like, it's so perfect. I love it so much. It's so heartfelt. And it gets into class and race. And you know, he has a has a gay best friend who you think is going to be like the gay best friends sidekick, but he gets his own internal life and his own hero's journey, like, and he's also an immigrant and they deal with his immigrant families values. And like, it's so interesting and good.

Ev'Yan: Amazing. Okay, yeah, I'm gonna watch that with me and my partner. That sounds amazing. My last question is, what's the one thing you wish everyone knew about consent?

Jaclyn: That it makes sex better. It's not an obstacle to sex, but actually, is going to make you a better lover and also making better in touch with what you need and want and is intrinsically going to make you have better sex.

Ev'Yan: Yeah, I mean, with with that, like, why wouldn't you want to adopt consent, you know,? Like, if it's gonna make you a better lover, if it's going to make you have better sex? Like, why not practice? affirmative consent?

Jaclyn: Exactly. They're not a lot of things you can do to like, make the world better, that also make your sex life better. So you should take the ones that arrive?

Ev'Yan: True. Oh, my God, that is such a good point. Like for anyone who is like interested in like, buy one get one free, then, I mean, that is pretty rad.

Jaclyn, thank you so much for coming onto the show, giving us so much wisdom and also giving me so many things to think about within my own relationship to you consent and sexuality I really appreciate the work that you do.

Jaclyn: Oh, well, you too, this was a genuine pleasure. So I'm really appreciating the work that you're doing. And I loved having this conversation.

Ev'Yan: Yay, me too. Okay. So where can people find you? I want to make sure that you also plug your amazing podcast because I listened to it. And I constantly tell everyone to listen to it too. So yes, tell us everything.

Jaclyn: You can listen to my podcast, which is called Unscrewed wherever podcasts are available. If there's a place you like to listen to your podcasts, and you can't find it there, let me know and I'll make sure it gets there. But you should definitely subscribe. If you liked this show, you'll probably like my show, it’s slightly more meta. So it's a lot more about the politics and the social conditions in which we're having sex. But we get down dirty sometimes, too

Ev'Yan: Yeah, it's great. I love your podcast. Like I know that a lot of the things that I talk about here are kind of like story based, like listening to people's stories and hearing about people's experiences. But like your podcast is such an amazing resource for like, the nitty gritty things we should know and conversations that we all should be having about sex and sexuality.

Jaclyn: Awesome. And so you can find me on Twitter at Jaclynf. I'm on Instagram at Jaclynfable. On my website is Jaclynfriedman.com and you can find back episodes of the podcast there. You can find things I've written and stuff about my books. And if I ever update it, you can find my upcoming events. I'm really behind to listing them. Things I should also mention, I have a new book coming out in the fall.

Ev'Yan: Oh you do! I was just about to ask, what is this one about?

Jaclyn: This is a new anthology that I'm doing with Jessica Valenti, who I made Yes Means Yes with, we decided for the 10 year anniversary, not just to put out the Anniversary Edition, which is wonderful and has a new introduction. But to make a whole brand new anthology which we're calling Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World. And it's all about how the world would literally be different if we just believed women about the violence, we experience. Some amazing, sad, sometimes amazing contributors. We should be announcing the contributor list in the next couple of weeks. So it's definitely a good time to tune into my socials. I can't say enough good stuff about the essays in this collection, and some of them will just blow your head off.

Ev'Yan: Oh my god, I'm so excited. I can't wait. So it's coming out in the fall. Do you have like a particular date yet?

Jaclyn: October 22, is our release date.

Ev'Yan: Oh, nice. Oh my god. That's amazing. Congrats.

Jaclyn: Thank you. I'm really excited about it.

Ev'Yan: I'm really excited for you to are you guys going to do any celebration for the 10th year anniversary of Yes Means Yes.

Jaclyn: I'm like a physical event?

Ev'Yan: Yeah, like not necessarily for like the public. But I'm just wondering how you are celebrating the fact that you reached that milestone.

Jaclyn: I'm so busy right now. I mean, I should have a really good answer to them. And the answer is like I spent the weekend doing my taxes.

Ev'Yan: I mean, it's totally fine.

Jaclyn: I'm sure at some point, we will like have dinner and a drink and toast each other but we don't have any big plans, unfortunately.

Ev'Yan: Well, no worries. I just thought that I would ask and yeah, maybe encourage you to stick a candle and as a way to celebrate.

Jaclyn: Thank you. Let me just stop and celebrate. It's not often that you, it's not often that a book gets a 10th anniversary edition. I'll just say that.

Ev'Yan: No kidding. No kidding. Oh, it's big.

Jaclyn: Yeah, it does feel big.

Ev'Yan: Well, thank you so much for doing the work that you do and for chatting with us today. I'm looking forward to staying connected.

Jaclyn: Yeah, you too!


This podcast is produced, edited, and designed by me, Ev'Yan Whitney. Find me on my website, evyanwhitney.com and on Instagram @evyan.whitney to keep up with me and my work.

The Sexually Liberated Woman is made possible with by Samantha Riddell and community support from each one of my very special patrons on Patreon. I literally couldn't do this without you.

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Thank you so much for being here and I'll see you in the next episode.