Grannyvibe has linked to a post and discussion over at Den of the Biting Beaver, on the notion of the "continuum" of consent, wrt rape and sex.
I respect grannyvibe one hell of a lot. I respect several other women and/or feminists who have linked to the Den with an approving/admiring tone for the posts there. And I have had serious bones to pick with the folks over at the Den, particularly the male half, over not just their interpretation of feminism and sexualit(ies,) but their approach to talking about it. Which I've referred to rather snidely here and elsewhere, directly and obliquely, because the subject of sexual agency is one I feel strongly about, and also because I am a bone-picker.
Here's the thing. I've read BB's story (at the link). It is, without a doubt, a chronicle of gross and repeated violations, rape(s), in point of fact, among other emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual abuses. It is a horrific story, and yes, sadly, it's not an anomaly: this shit does, as I think is one of BB's main themes, if not the main theme, happen to lots of women and girls, all the bloody time. It is also extremely well written.
Like I say, I've been bitching about this already, so I'll not now go into my problems with BB's stuff when she extrapolates from the personal to the sociopolitical, except to say this:
I have my own experiences and impressions, shaped by institutionalized sexism and homophobia, among other things, personal and political. They have led me to my own politics, my own interpretation of feminism, and, last but definitely not least, my own sexuality, or at least my expression of it. And I vow that they are as valid as anyone else's. For me. And I hold to that. I hold to the right to claim and express my desires.
And that is the bare bones of what "sex-positive" means to me. My body, my choice. No means no, absolutely. AbsofuckingLUTEly. But also, yes means yes. For me, and I can only speak for me.
And with that said, whatever one thinks about the notion of a "continuum" of consent, at least as BB has laid it out, there is no doubt in my mind that sure, there's always a vast grey area between "yes" and "no." How one might best negotiate that territory, in an ideal world, is the subject of another, longer post. I'll just say here that it starts with the notion of boundaries, a concept that encompasses far more, I'll vow, than sex or gender.