This is a book about sex. It’s also a book about women, our bodies, how we use them, how they work, and why sometimes they don’t work the way we’d like them to. It’s a book about sexuality, eroticism, pornography, desire, arousal, and satiation. Included in this book is only the tiniest bit of science, because I’m not a scientist. I’m a bit of a sexologist, if a sexologist is a person who studies sex. Truthfully, I’m more like a sexual adventurer, a sex writer, thinker, critic, and philosopher. Mostly I get called a sexpert, but I’m not sure anyone is ever an expert at sex.
This book is also about love, to a certain degree, in that love of oneself is a necessary component of sexual ecstasy.
Together we’re going to take a tour of our bodies and our sexuality. Sexual shame often prevents us from really getting a good look at ourselves. There is plenty of talk about the wrongs of sex, the bad parts of sex, and very little information about empowering sex. Constant negative feedback about female sexuality affects our ability to explore our desire. Our sexuality is demeaned, trivialized, controlled. We’re divided into MILFs, Cougars, and Lolitas, when we aren’t kittens, Barbies and porn queens. So much meaning is attached to us and our bodies by everyone else; there’s barely any room left for our own opinions. The female body is public domain. Our own bodies are used to sell us things so often, that sometimes we forget we own them.
Something I know to be true, without a doubt, is that the more you understand yourself, the happier you are. This same concept applies to sex—the more you understand sex the better it is. Sex needs more attention from those of us who are seen more often as sex objects than sexual beings. We need sex as much as we need food, water, shelter, and love. Great sex can be rejuvenating, healing, rewarding, and fulfill our deepest needs for intimacy and connection. Our desire to have sex with someone is how we know that person is more than a friend. Great sex can make you fall in love.
When we feel confident, healthy, and sexy our lives are happier places. Feeling sexy is like feeling invincible. But that feeling doesn’t come easily in a society with a very narrow definition of sexy. Every outlet through which information can be disseminated will tell you what is and isn’t sexy, but it’s all misguided. Sex is personal; sexy is subjective. We can get turned on by anything and everything. Having fantastic sex is about rejecting the messages you receive about your sexuality that don’t ring true to you. Feeling sexy and finding great sex is more about shutting out that erroneous information than listening to it. Once you’ve learned to navigate the perils of societal expectations and messages that keep you from being fully yourself, sex will become the most amazing, fulfilling empowering experience you can have. It will be a source of power for you, a source of ecstasy.
You may come across a new thing or two in these pages, especially once we get out of our heads and into our bodies. If you come across something unfamiliar, read about it. If it doesn’t appeal to you, you don’t have to do it. Don’t be afraid of new ideas. Consider new paths to pleasure and don’t judge paths chosen by others. At the very least you’ll have some new topics with which to wow guests at your next dinner party.
I love sex. I especially love writing, talking, and reading about sex. I love kinky sex and vanilla sex, married sex and casual sex. Rough sex, embarrassing sex, probably-shouldn’t–have sex, funny sex, awkward sex, intimate sex, anonymous sex. The only bad sex is sex that makes you feel bad. Sex is liberating as long as we’re liberated.
I’ve divided this book into three parts. Part one is really the foundation you need to get the sex life you want. Part one is about changing your attitudes, unlearning obsessive and self-harming behaviors, and letting go of the hang-ups that do nothing but hold you back.
Part two will teach you how to do all sorts of things better, introduce you to new techniques, and give you a greater understanding of just how smoothly the physical side of sex can work once you’ve mastered the skills.
Part three is for sexual adventurers. It’s for the single folks that want to remain forever memorable to their lovers and the married couples that want to take their sex lives to a whole new realm of sexual experimentation. Part three is full of advice about the little extras and the kinky fun. Part three offers advice for a lifetime of fulfilling sex.
For the next 300 or so pages, forget sexual orientation, and sexual identity; we don’t need them right now. If you are female, by biology or identity, this book is for you. Straight, gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgendered, bisexual, queer, mainstream, alternative, urban, suburban, polyamorous, married—we have similar sexual needs. Our specific tastes and preferred techniques might vary but our sexual response and basic physical and psychological requirements are pretty much the same.
With that in mind, I’ve done my best to be inclusive. Sometimes I address women with male partners, sometimes it’s about women with female partners, and within the categories of male and female I address a whole array of genders. Femaleness comes in many forms, not all of them feminine. My own sexuality has manifested in so many different ways that while I call myself a lesbian, I have been at different times in my life straight and married, straight, married and bicurious, polyamorous, nonmonogamous, in an open marriage, bisexual and single, the straight partner of a transgendered man, and for the past ten years a lesbian in relationships with women. Regardless of the sex or gender of my partner, my body always worked exactly the same way. My sexuality was never about who I was having sex with, it was about who I was when I was having sex.
Gender gets a lot of attention in this book as well. Talking and thinking about gender is important to every type of couple. It’s easy to get hung up on masculinity and femininity in bed. We’ve burdened all sorts of fun sexual acts with gender hang ups. And that’s got to go. Gender and gender roles can make sex exciting; there’s a sexual tension that stems from our differences. But there’s a way to enjoy gender differences without being imprisoned by them.
Understanding gender and our expectations around it is an essential part of accepting ourselves and our partners. Women are expected to fall naturally into a more passive role in bed. It’s something we’re taught as children, women should wait around for someone to want them, for the man to ask them out and initiate sex. You might have desires that fall outside of traditional femininity but repress them thinking your partner wont find you attractive. Sometimes those of us who fall along the feminine side of the gender spectrum worry that our partners wont find us attractive if we aren’t dressed up all the time. Or maybe we worry that the things that get us hot in bed will make us seem slutty or make us feel guilty. We sometimes hold ourselves back from real pleasure by worrying that embracing what we want will make us seem less attractive.
These same insecurities affect our partners. Men, for instance, are often stuck in what they think is masculine behavior. And their fear of not being masculine enough prevents them from having all sorts of pleasure in bed that they could have if they let down their gender guard a bit. But it’s not just men that are roped into this limited interpretation of masculinity, anyone who identifies with masculinity can struggle with this. It’s not uncommon for butch lesbians, trans men, or even women with masculine partners to quantify and qualify masculinity, policing it for transgressiveness and preventing themselves or their partners from experimenting sexually and socially.
If you are a man reading this book or someone who identifies with a more masculine role, let me assure you that becoming a sexually realized, happy sex partner is about keeping yourself and your lovers from thinking too hard about right and wrong ways to express ourselves in bed. Anything, and I mean absolutely anything fun that feels good to both of you is perfectly OK. Experiment with and enjoy the vessel you’re in. There are so many ways to find pleasure in the body and you are only hurting yourself if you decide some are off limits.
I hope that regardless of who you are and who you sleep with you’ll come away from reading this book with a new perspective, understanding, and acceptance of all the women around you.
I’ve written this book for women because I am one. I know what it’s like to move through this world as a woman. I know what it’s like to not only have sex as a woman but with a woman. And I know that our sexuality is still enigmatic, even to ourselves.
Chaucer wondered what we wanted all the way back in the 14th century. Freud wondered in the 19th century and today so many researchers are still asking that question you could swing your handbag and hit one. Frankly, the question is dated and the answer is so obvious; there is no answer. We all want different things.
Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex in 1949. The “second sex” was us, she explained. The entire world was defined by men, and women were simply defined as “not men.” All these years later this idea still shapes the way we see ourselves sexually. We’re still struggling with what we want because female sexuality is simply defined as “not male.” This is true whether you have male lovers or not. Lesbian sex is particularly mysterious for anyone who doesn’t have it. “Which one is the boy?” everyone wonders. Or if it is understood that there is no boy, the assumption is that it must not be “real sex.”
Think of this book as a place where your sexuality exists outside of a partner. And if you can’t picture what your sexuality looks like outside of a partner then that’s going to be your first exercise: figuring out what it means for you to be sexual in a way that pleases no one but yourself. Together we’re going to find new ways to be sexual and enjoy thrilling, liberating, mind-blowing, life-affirming sex.