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Lusty Lady

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

My name in Publishers Weekly, and Mistress Matisse is not a feminist

This is kindof a "I never thought it would happen to me..." story because Publishers Weekly has never reviewed any of my books. I had thought with Dirty Girls, my first book with pre-publication galleys, they would, but they didn't. Guess if that's what I want I've gotta stop with the erotica. Am I bitter? Okay, a little. I hate that erotica, and books by small presses, are so marginalized.

I wish mine sold better, and I wish certain megachain bookstores had erotica sections. I wish a lot of things but can't change them in any way, except as to making decisions about what type of stuff I publish. For now, all I know how to do is erotica, but I do want to branch out, while keeping editing books (and keeping learning how to properly promote and market them). I feel like with every book, it's a huge opportunity to learn how to do it right, do it better, learn what money is well-spent, and what isn't. So I'm in the process of figuring all that out, and seeing where it takes me.

Anyway, Yes Means Yes has not only sold out of its first printing (10,000 copies!!!!) in like 2 months, but just got a starred review in PW. Congratulations Jessica and Jaclyn. There's at least one piece in there on my shortlist for Best Sex Writing 2010. It's really a coup for these editors, but I was happy to see my piece get a mention.

Here's the review (via Jaclyn Friedman's email):

Yes Means Yes! : Visions of Female Sexual Power & A World Without Rape
Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti. Seal, $15.95 (256p) ISBN 9781580052573
Activists and writers Friedman and Valenti (
He's a Stud, She's a Slut) deliver an extraordinary essay compilation focusing on the struggle to stop rape in the U.S. and the importance of sexual identity and ownership. Early on, Thomas MacAulay Millar and Rachel Kramer Bussel explain how the "no means no" concept (sexual consent equals the absence of no) must be rejected in favor of a "yes means yes" mentality: the idea that consent means affirmative participation in the act itself, a broader definition that better protects women while encouraging power over—not fear of—personal sexual identity. Other topics include body image and self-esteem issues as well as incest, the dangers faced by female immigrants and the public perception of rape; in "Trial by Media," Samhita Mukhopadhyay looks at the Duke Lacrosse rape case and finds the media acting in the tradition of slavery by commodifying the young, female African-American body. Though surprisingly entertaining throughout, with no shortage of wit or humor, unexpected topics (Friedman on enjoying sex, transsexual writer Julia Serano on the mixed cultural messages that lead "nice guys" to sexual aggression) keep the book dynamic. Sure to empower and inform, this is an important and inspiring read for assault survivors, educators, activists, experts and those on a path to self discovery. (Starred)

I was intrigued by Mistress Morgana's post about her not being a feminist, and thankful for it. It reminded me to live up to what I believe in, which is to be as broad-minded as possible. I hate the idea of only writing "to" or "for" others who identify as feminist, and I think it's obnoxious, condescending and disturbing to assume that other people, especially women, somehow, in some essentialist way "are" feminists just because they...[insert supposedly feminist action or belief]

I quoted Mistress Matisse because her column said what I was trying to say, but so much more eloquently. Here's part of her post:

People ask me, "Are you a feminist?" And I usually say something like, "Do you think I am?"

Sometimes they say, "Oh yes, definitely!"

And I smile and say "All right then, I am."

Sometimes they say "No! Women like you are antithetical to feminism."

And I shrug and say, "Then we don't have anything else to talk about, do we?"

It's a way of identifying and can't be placed onto someone. Also, um, news flash: feminists and non-feminists can, and often do, agree on lots of things. A super simplistic way of saying it from my addled almost-flu-ed out mind, but I wanted to say it. I would never want to be thought of as foisting my views on anyone else and honestly don't really care whether any given person identifies as a feminist. I think sometimes so much wasted time and effort is spent trying to get people to simply say the word, rather than focusing on what we do agree on. I need to reread my copy of Paula Kamen's excellent book Feminist Fatale for more on that.

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