Jaclyn Friedman

Feminist author of Yes Mean Yes is leading the conversation on enthusiastic consent.

photo of Jaclyn Friedman

Jaclyn Friedman is an educator, activist, and the force behind four hit books: Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape (one of Publishers’ Weekly’s Top 100 Books of 2009), What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex & SafetyUnscrewed: Women, Sex, Power & How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us Alland the forthcoming anthology Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World. Her podcast, also called Unscrewed, is paving new paths to sexual liberation, and was named one of the best sex podcasts by both Marie Claire and Esquire.

As an undergraduate, Jaclyn thought she was too smart to become a victim of sexual assault – until another student proved her wrong. That experience eventually led her to become a student and instructor of IMPACT safety training. At IMPACT, she helped bring safety skills to the communities which most need them, including gang-involved high school students and women transitioning out of abusive relationships.

Friedman’s work has popularized the “yes means yes” standard of sexual consent that is quickly becoming law on many US campuses. In her book, Unscrewed, she calls on the movement for women’s sexual liberation to move past individualistic “empowerment” messages (for which she coined the term “fauxpowerment”) to focus on collectively transforming the systems and institutions invested in keeping women sexually servile. Kirkus called it “a potent, convincing manifesto,” and Kate Tuttle, president of the National Book Critics Circle, called it “the book we need right now.”

Friedman is a popular speaker on campuses and at conferences across the US and beyond. She has been a guest on the Today ShowNightlinePBS News Hour, Call Your Girlfriend, and numerous other audio and TV shows, and her commentary has appeared in outlets including The New York TimesVoxRefinery 29The Washington PostGlamour, and The Guardian. Friedman is a founder and the former executive director of Women, Action & the Media, where she led the successful #FBrape campaign to apply Facebook’s hate-speech ban to content that promotes gender-based violence. More recently, she has been active in the Jews Against ICE movement, with whom she was arrested at a protest this summer. 

Popular Topics

Unscrewed: Women, Sex, Power, and How to Stop Letting the System Screw Us All

Much of the anxiety and fear women in our country feel around issues of their sexuality stems from forces that are not, in fact, their fault, but instead are side effects of our toxic culture. In what Friedman calls our modern “era of fauxpowerment,” our culture and institutions give women the illusion of sexual power, with very little actual power to support it. In this irreverent and frank talk, Friedman breaks down the causes and signs of fauxpowerment in media, politics, education, religion, and more, then gives the audience tools to make positive change toward a culture that supports genuine sexual sovereignty for all.

What You Really Really Want: How to Pursue a Real Sexuality in the Real World

Friedman explores the intersections of sex and safety. Our culture bombards women and girls with mixed messages every day: we’re supposed to be innocent virgins who excel at stripper-pole workouts; we’re failures if we don’t act sexy, but we’re sluts if we pursue sex. Friedman separates fear from fact, allowing participants to build new skills for safely expressing that sexuality with lovers and explore effective ways to learn how to make the world safer for everyone else’s sexuality along the way.

Sane, Safe, Strong: Creating a Safe and Healthy Sexual Culture for Your Community

Based on her hit book Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, she connects the dots between how culture shames women for expressing their sexuality, how the media uses empty images of female sexuality to fuel sales, and how rape is allowed to function in society. Friedman leads an interactive discussion about the ways you and your campus or community can create a culture that makes sexual violence rare, clear, and swiftly punished.

#Metoo. Now what?

The rise of #Metoo has been disruptive and upsetting and cathartic and frustrating and empowering. But what needs to happen to make it last? Join Jaclyn for this exploration of what it takes to make sturdy structural change to the ways we work together, the ways we value each other, and the ways we conceive of women and power.

Be Your Own Superhero: Demystifying the Art of Repairing the World

Jaclyn Friedman’s activism has popularized the “yes means yes” standard of sexual consent that is quickly becoming law on many US campuses, forced Facebook to crack down on images promoting violence against women, and shone a hot spotlight on ICE-run concentration camps as part of #JewsAgainstICE this summer. In this interactive session, she’ll teach you how to get started or level up in your own efforts to repair the world. We’ll start with your big visions and break them down into manageable, measurable steps that require no superpowers (or supertraining) to execute. Leave with a concrete plan of action for a cause that’s close to your heart, and the confidence to pull it off. Whatever your passion, this session will move you from “someone should do something about that” to “I’m going to do something about that.” 

Believe Me: How Trusting Women Can Change the World

“Believe women” has become a feminist rallying cry, but what does it really mean in practice? Inspired by her forthcoming book of the same name, in this talk Jaclyn take you on a trip through key women throughout U.S. history who we would all have done well to have believed sooner, expose the science of implicit bias that demonstrates why we, as a society, would rather suffer than find women credible, and connect the dots between belief and action, ultimately illuminating a path forward toward a world that genuinely does believe women. 

Praise for Jaclyn Friedman


Refinery 29

Jaclyn Friedman responds to the confirmation of Bret Kavanaugh by explaining why women must stop playing by the rules.

Dame Magazine

Jaclyn Friedman talks with DAME Magazine about “fauxpowerment” and Hugh Hefner, the fate of Roe v. Wade, and the inevitability of the current brutal backlash.

Personal Democracy Forum

Jaclyn Friedman takes the stage at Personal Democracy Forum to help corporations and communities focus on diversity as a secret weapon to change the world.