Welcome! Today is May 15th, and this is my post for the Best Sex Writing 2013 virtual blog tour. Featured is a short introduction by me, a guest post by Rachel Kramer Bussel, and an international sweepstakes of a copy of this book.
We as a community of sex educators, activists, workers—we as people—all have stories to share that are equally important. This is one such book that is as inspirational as it is educational, and it gives a collective voice to people and stories that are long overdue to be heard. I wrote copious notes as I read this nonfiction anthology: Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today’s Sexual Culture. All of the authors wrote with such clarity that I thought their tales were incredibly poignant and reminded me of something that Dr. Carol Queen, this book’s Guest Judge, said at CatalystCon East this year:
“Tell your truth.”
There is so much work to be done in the field of sexuality, and progress can be made as we all share our stories and collaborate with one another. I want to see the sex community grow into an inclusive environment in which acceptance runs as rampant as we like to think it does. It intrigues me to imagine how the sex community will change, and I can only hope it will be made all the better by books such as this one.
Let’s hear what the editor, Rachel Kramer Bussel, had to say:
“One of the things I like best about editing the Best Sex Writing series is approaching the ubiquitous topic of sex from new angles. I like to mix things up, to include authors who aren’t based in the world of sex writing alongside ones who are. I also like to mix things up by including deeply personal essays mixed with reportage, this year from publications like New York (“Very Legal: Sex and Love in Retirement”), The Atlantic (“Can a Better Vibrator Inspire an Age of Great American Sex?”), East Bay Express (“Sex by Numbers”), Riverfront Times (“Lost Boys”) and LA Weekly (“Porn Defends the Money Shot”).
Unlike editing my erotica anthologies, when I was editing Best Sex Writing 2013, I was “working” even when I wasn’t working. As I read for pleasure, I was also keeping an eye out for articles and essays that might fit in well with the book, which is how I discovered gems like “Sex by Any Other Name” by Insiya Ansari in the anthology Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, edited by Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi and “Cherry Picking” by Julia Serano in the anthology Trans/Love: Radical Sex, Love & Relationships Beyond the Gender Binary, edited by Morty Diamond. Others I solicited about topics in the news, such as Tim Tebow and the reaction to his virginity (“Holy Fuck” by Jon Pressick).
Yet I want to be clear: yes, the book has the word “best” on it, but I would be sad if anyone thought this were the final word on sex writing, in 2013 or any other year. Any Best Of collection is always going to be colored by the person or people doing the selecting. While I believe the quality of the writing and thinking collected in this book is top-notch, what I hope readers take away is that they too are part of the conversation. I don’t expect everyone (or possibly anyone) to read all 20 pieces and think, I agree with everything in each one. In fact, that would disappoint me. Instead, I want them to serve up new ways of looking at topics such as aging and sexuality, or sex work and happiness, or whether polyamory is a relationship ideal. It’s likely that some of the pieces here might unnerve you, or confuse you, or arouse you, or educate you (or all of those)—and that’s a good thing.
I also appreciate that many of these pieces complicate the idea of a sexual utopia. They ask hard questions, push buttons and fight back against simplistic answers, whether it’s Lori Selke’s “Dear John” letter to the leather community or Patrick Califia’s essay “Enhancing Masochism,” where he writes: “This is not to say that BDSMers (or our relationships) are always happy and strong. Our community has its share of people who are mean-spirited or manipulative or crackers. Some of us find romantic love and lots of sex with ease; others experience higher levels of loneliness and unsatisfied desire. But this is simply the human condition. It’s okay for us to be imperfect.”
To that end, I know each reader will have different favorites in the book, different connections they make than the ones I made. I want this book to come alive, not literally, but in the sense that it gets talked about, debated, passed around. While in some ways it’s a time capsule, a snapshot of the current sexual moment, legal and cultural battles and achievements and news, it’s about, at heart, to reiterate what Califia wrote about the BDSM community, the human condition. Or rather, conditions. These authors are quite different from each other, but all are daring to speak openly and intimately about sexuality, whether their own or others’. They’re challenging themselves, their lovers and conventional (and less conventional) wisdom. I look forward to hearing what readers have to say about those challenges, and to seeing more writing that opens up the world of sex in smart, critical, exciting ways.”
Rachel Kramer Bussel edits the “Sex Diaries” for New York Magazine and hosts SRO readings around the country. Based in New York City, she is a prolific erotica editor, and her titles include Spanked, He’s on Top, She’s on Top, Passion, and Do Not Disturb.
Dr. Carol Queen is a writer, speaker, educator and activist with a doctorate in sexology. Her books include Pomosexuals, Real Live Nude Girl, and Switch Hitters. She lives in San Francisco, where she is the Good Vibrations Staff Sexologist.
Enter below to win a copy of Best Sex Writing 2013, given graciously by Cleis Press. The contest is open to everyone worldwide.
Thank you, Rachel and Cleis Press for allowing me to take part in the blog tour for Best Sex Writing 2013! I’m so happy to be a part of this wonderful virtual blog tour. xoxo