I'm long past the days of reading Cosmopolitan or whatever the kids read these days for sex advice. It always sounded fairly silly when I was younger and highly impractical when I considered my own "weirdness" about sex - before I figured out I was submissive, I mean. I'm also very aware, as someone who dishes out my own advice about sex, kink, and relationships, that it's all highly subjective. Our sexuality and pleasure exists on a broad spectrum.
So when I saw that the Sexy Summer Book Club pick for July was Enjoy Sex: A Practical and Inclusive Guide by Dr. Meg-John Barker (who I met at Eroticon!) and Justin Hancock, I was skeptical. Could one book actually give practical and inclusive advice without directly telling anyone what they should do?
Spoiler alert: The answer is yes!
While I was reading, I kept thinking, "Shit, I could have used this when I was younger!" Most of what they discussed in the book, I had to learn on my own at age 32. Touching yourself to find out what you like, discarding things that don't feel that good, embracing what you enjoy without worrying so much about what's "normal."
Frankly, the over-arching message I saw throughout the book was: What you enjoy is unique to you. What you enjoy is valid. Not wanting or liking sex is equally valid. What matters most is figuring out what works for you.
Clearly I haven't read a lot of sex advice books (okay, none) but this is probably one of the most sex-positive messages I've ever gotten from any advice on sex. It made me check myself a little, take a little mental inventory: Do I project this message? Am I this inclusive when I talk about sex? Gosh, I hope so.
The authors don't hide from the fact that some of us are a little weird or iffy about sex for religious, societal, familial, and other reasons. They use that as a jumping off point. Maybe it's because I've met Dr. Barker (without realizing who I was talking to - doh!), but the calm, soothing sense I got from our conversation came through in the book, too. It really is a little bit like sitting down with someone, a "sexpert" if you will, and having a therapeutic chat about sex.
Enjoy Sex covers consent, communication (verbal and non-verbal), figuring out what you want as an individual, figuring out sex with a partner, the full spectrum of sexuality, and the realities of what can make sex and sexual pleasure difficult for people.
Not only is the book packed with useful advice and a kind, generous, non-judgmental tone, the authors offer practical stuff too. Each chapter has at least one activity designed to help you think more about the topic, to affect actual change in your life, and to help you figure out what it is you want - rather than what you might think you're supposed to want. The activities can be used as a way to start the conversation with your partner about sex, too.
To me, Enjoy Sex is a book for people who think they're "weird" about sex (like I used to believe), want to have better sex but aren't sure where to start, and anyone who thinks they want to give advice about sex.
The hardest thing for most people to remember (while having sex or talking about it) is that there is no one right way to have, experience, or enjoy sex. What I love about Enjoy Sex is that this is their message throughout, no matter where you are on the spectrum of sexual interest and pleasure.
If you want to check out Enjoy Sex: A Practical and Inclusive Guide by Dr. Meg-John Barker and Justin Hancock for yourself, here you go: