Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman is author of What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl's Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety, and editor of Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape. She is executive director of Women, Action & the Media, and a charter member of CounterQuo, a coalition dedicated to challenging the ways we respond to sexual violence. 

Recent Articles

Let's End Rape in Conflict

As you'll soon notice, I'm not E.J. Graff. She's been kind enough to give me the keys to this joint for a week, and I'm going to do my best not to put too many dents in it. (I won't bore you with bio, but if you're wondering who I am, here's a good place to start .) You will either be alarmed or intrigued to hear that this temporary takeover has a very specific focus: sexual violence in conflict. Stay with me! I’m not going to flood you with statistics and sad stories until you curl up in a ball in the corner. What I hope to do here is convince you that there are things you, actual person reading these words right now, can do about the situation. That said, a few factoids are in order to set the stage, so brace yourself. Rape is as old as war itself. The ancient usage stemmed from a conception of women as property, to be lumped in with the “spoils” due the victors. This still happens today in some places, but the current relationship between rape and conflict is much more tangled...

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape

The Assange sexual-assault allegations shouldn't be dismissed just because they're politically motivated.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is driven into Westminster Magistrates Court in London, Dec. 7, 2010. (Press Association/AP Images)
This week, as WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was taken into custody by Interpol on charges of sexual assault, and pundits right, left, and center got busy painting the accusations as frivolous and the accusers as lying, scheming sluts, I joined a small but dedicated chorus of feminist voices calling for a serious inquiry into the charges. We didn't do it because we support government secrecy or because we agree with the vicious international campaign to silence Assange. We didn't do it because we're masochists who like to get into fights on the Internet. We did it because once rape charges break into the news cycle, lives depend on what gets said about them. I have no way of knowing whether Assange is guilty as charged. It's also obvious that the timing and ferocity of Interpol's prosecution of Assange is politically motivated. That Interpol should randomly build up such a head of steam about the violation of two women in Sweden, (which has the highest rape rates in Europe and a...

Combating the Campus Rape Crisis

College is back in session, and that means it's time for a lot of ineffective pageantry on rape prevention. Don't our young women deserve better?

The college students are back. They're in the grocery stores, stocking up on Top Ramen. They're at IKEA, buying oddly shaped pillows for their dorm rooms. Very soon, they'll be at parties, doing things that would give their parents full-on coronaries. And that means it's time for a classic college ritual, adult-style: freaking out about the safety of our girls. At about this time every year, adult anxiety about sexual assault reaches a tipping point and gives way to an avalanche of advice to young women from campuses, commentators, and parents alike: Don't hook up! Don't dress provocatively! Watch your drink! Actually, don't drink at all! Always stay with a friend! Don't stay out too late! Don't walk home alone! Etcetera, etcetera, ad nauseam. And every year, it fails to work. A 2007 Department of Justice-funded trend analysis of rape studies over time revealed that rates of rape haven't declined in the past 15 years -- in fact, they may be increasing. Why hasn't it worked? Perhaps it...

Sports Misogyny and the Court of Public Opinion

Last week, a lawsuit was filed accusing football player Ben Roethlisberger of sexual assault. In the blink of an eye, sports apologists turned the focus on the case from the athlete to the alleged victim.

Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
In mid July, a Harrah's hotel worker accused Pittsburgh Steelers star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of raping her, and her employer of covering it up. And then, as reliably as thunder follows lightning, the sports misogyny apologists boomed onto the scene. You know the ones -- would-be or former jocks with Peter Pan disease, women desperate to be one of the guys, or who dream of being Gisele Bundchen to the next Tom Brady. They all cling to their game and their team above everything else, including evidence, compassion and logic. And whenever it's suggested that a sports practice or athlete harms women, they jump into action with whatever excuse is handy: It's all in good fun! It's just part of the game! It could have been worse! He would never do that! She liked it! She's just after his money! Can't anyone take a joke? But the apologists are no laughing matter. They're an essential ingredient in the modern sports culture that protects and lionizes male athletes at all costs. And...

The Real Stonewall Legacy

Waiting our turn isn't working. Asking nicely isn't working. What will work is what worked that fateful night at Stonewall.

Marchers commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Stonewall Inn riots, considered the birth of the gay rights movement. (AP Photo/Eric Miller)
Forty years ago, a raucous group of transvestites, queens, dykes, hustlers, and homeless queer kids gathered at their local bar in Greenwich Village: The Stonewall Inn. This wasn't a political meeting -- and contrary to the common historical narrative, they weren't leaders in the nascent gay-rights movement. (Those leaders were far too concerned with convincing the powers that were that gay Americans were "just like everyone else" to set foot inside the Stonewall.) No, this was just an average Saturday night in 1969, and the Stonewall's patrons had gathered for the same reasons that most people gather at a bar -- to dance, drink, hang out with friends, and maybe get lucky. Then something extraordinary happened. It wasn't the police raid. Raids were pretty average then, too, as cops made a habit of targeting gay hangouts. What was extraordinary was that, for whatever reason, on that night everyone at the bar began to fight back. The modern LGBT-rights movement owes its existence to the...