jessica valenti

Scroll to Info & Navigation

Beyond ‘no means no’: the future of campus rape prevention is ‘yes means yes’

While most students at Columbia University will spend the first day of classes carrying backpacks and books, Emma Sulkowicz will start her semester on Tuesday with a far heavier burden. The senior plans on carrying an extra-long, twin-size mattress across the quad and through each New York City building – to every class, every day – until the man she says raped her moves off campus.

“I was raped in my own bed,” Sulkowicz told me the other day, as she was gearing up to head back to school in this, the year American colleges are finally, supposedly, ready to do something about sexual assault. “I could have taken my pillow, but I want people to see how it weighs down a person to be ignored by the school administration and harassed by police.”

Read the rest at the Guardian US

So late in putting this up, but had to share my favorite new picture! Incredibly honored to have won a Planned Parenthood Maggie Award with some of my favorite women: Zerlina Maxwell, Janet Mock & Irin Carmon. 

So late in putting this up, but had to share my favorite new picture! Incredibly honored to have won a Planned Parenthood Maggie Award with some of my favorite women: Zerlina Maxwell, Janet Mock & Irin Carmon. 

I’m appreciative that young men [like the ones who created the “anti-rape” nail polish] want to curb sexual assault, but anything that puts the onus on women to “discreetly” keep from being raped misses the point. We should be trying to stop rape, not just individually avoid it.

If it were truly that simple, previous iterations of this same concept would have worked. Remember “anti-rape underwear”? Or the truly terrifying “Rapex” – a female condom that would insert tiny hooks into an assailant’s penis? You can’t really expect women to wear modern chastity belts or a real-life vagina dentata in order to be safe. That’s not trying to stop rape - it’s essentially arguing that some people getting raped is inevitable.

Even if a woman were to wear special nail polish or anti-rape underwear, or if she listens to common – but misplaced – advice about not getting drunk and always walking home in a group, all she’s supposedly ensuring is that she won’t be attacked. (And even then it’s not real security, because women who do all the “right” things get raped too) What about the girl at the same party who decided to have a few drinks that night? “So long as it isn’t me” isn’t an effective strategy to end rape.

My latest at the Guardian US, Why is it easier to invent anti-rape nail polish than find a way to stop rapists? 

Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless’ feminist act at the VMAs leads the way for other women

Beyoncé, in the midst of an epic 15 minute medley at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music awards, performed her song “Flawless” in front of a giant screen blazoned with the word “FEMINIST”. And, as in her music video, the superstar sampled author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s speech on feminism and expectations for girls.

The zeitgeist is irrefutably feminist: its name literally in bright lights.

Read the rest at the Guardian!