Edited by Jon Pressick, published by Cleis Press
This book has such a lovely mix of subject matter! I wasn’t sure what to expect from it but the variety wasn’t it. They’re smart, funny, and insightful and it’s the type of book I wish I had read when I was in my undergrad (I took psychology and sexuality studies). Some of the pieces are more dense and academic but not every piece. Some are light-hearted whereas others are incredibly sad or just…upsetting, but incredibly important (“I Am the Blogger Who Allegedly ‘Complicated’ the Steubenville Gang Rape Case- and I Wouldn’t Change a Thing” by Alexandria Goddard). There are 31 essays in the book and I won’t talk about all of them in my review, but the topics are wide-ranging – sex work, disability, trans* and genderqueer inclusion, white supremacy & desire, sex toys, and more.
One of the things I liked best about this book is that I don’t agree with everything each author says, and they don’t agree with each other. Each author submitted one essay and the editor, Jon Pressick (one of the hosts of Sex City Radio), let them contradict each other instead of focusing on one view of sexuality.
It was a quick read, helped by the fact that I did not want to put the book down, but one that stuck with me for many days after I finished it.
Some of the pieces I had read elsewhere, such as sex toy reviewer Epiphora’s essay “What Should We Call Sex Toys?” but most were new to me and all of them were written in accessible language. Remember when I said some were more academic? They are, but not so academic that you can’t easily understand what the author is saying. This isn’t Judith Bulter, these authors are able to make their essays approachable and devourable, not dense and slow-going with a dictionary open next to you.
There were so many essays about sex work which I loved (as a porn producer/performer, sex toy reviewer, and escort, I’m sure this isn’t a surprise) but I must say, my absolute favourite in this category was “When I Was a Birthday Present for an Eighty-Two-Year-Old Grandmother” by David Henry Sterry. It’s a very light-hearted and fun piece but I really enjoyed how it dealt with topics of relationships/love, sexual shame/discomfort, and the pressure to deliver a certain level of quality to your clients as an escort.
Another favourite thing about this book? It’s Volume One. This means there will be more just like this in the future.