email page print pageAll Topic Reviews
269 Amazing Sex GamesA History of MarriageA Pocket History of Sex in the Twentieth CenturyActionAll the WayAmerica UnzippedAmerica UnzippedAmerica's Sexual TransformationAmerican EugenicsAmerican GirlsAmerican HookupAn Interpretation of DesireAnarchism & SexualityAnatomy of a BoyfriendAnatomy of LoveAnthony GoicoleaAnticlimaxArt and HomosexualityArt/PornAssuming a BodyAutoportraitBachelors and BunniesBecoming OrgasmicBehind the Red DoorBest Sex Writing 2005Better Sex Through YogaBetter Sex Through YogaBetter Than EverBetween Mom and JoBeyond Diversity DayBeyond SexualityBeyond ToleranceBig Porn IncBill HensonBodies in DoubtBody ImagesBonkBoys Don't CryBreasts - A DocumentaryBrothelBuying SexCase Studies in Communication about SexCase Studies in Sexual DevianceCaught in the WebCelibaciesChildren and SexualityChildren and the Politics of SexualityChildren with Sexual Behavior ProblemsChildren, Sexuality and SexualizationChristy ReportClay's WayClinical Manual of Women's Mental HealthClose toYouClumsyCold HitCollege SexComing of Age in AmericaConfessions of the Other MotherCybersexCyborgasmDare... to Make Love with 2, 3, 4... or MoreDare... to Try BisexualityDating: Philosophy for EveryoneDeadly ButterflyDebating Same-Sex MarriageDeep GossipDeparting from DevianceDesire, Love, and IdentityDigital DiariesDilemmas of DesireDirty MindsDirty StoriesDisorders Of DesireDisorders of Sex Development:Doing ItDoing ItDoing It Down UnderDown and Dirty Sex SecretsDude, You're a FagEarly Embraces IIIEmerald City BluesEmotionally InvolvedEnjoying Guilty PleasuresErotic CapitalErotic InnocenceErotic PassionsEthics, Sexual Orientation, and Choices about ChildrenEveryday PornographyEvolution and Human Sexual BehaviorExploring TranssexualismFade to BlackFagbugFaking ItFamilies Like MineFast GirlsFinal JeopardyFinding H. F.Fire on the Mountain DVDFor Lesbian ParentsFor The Bible Tells Me SoForbiddenFrictionFrom Disgust to HumanityFrom Shame to SinFuckologyGay, Straight, and the Reason WhyGender in the MirrorGender OutlawsGeography ClubGetting RealGetting the Love You WantGirls & SexGirls Gone MildGirls Gone SkankGLBTQGoddess WorshipGoing DownGood GirlsGood PornGood Sex IllustratedGreat Answers to Difficult Questions About SexGuide To Getting It OnHandbook New Sexuality StudiesHandbook of Counseling and Psychotherapy with Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual ClientsHard to GetHardcore from the HeartHear Us Out!HeterosyncraciesHit & MissHomosexualitiesHookedHooking UpHow Sex Became a Civil LibertyHow Sex ChangedHow Sex WorksHow To Be GayHow to Do Things with Pornography How to Give Her Absolute PleasureHow to Have Magnificent SexHow to Make Great Love to a ManHow to Make Great Love to a WomanHow to Make Love Like a Porn StarHow to Think More About SexHypnography for MenHypnography for WomenHysterical MenI'd Rather Eat ChocolateI'll Be Your MirrorIf Men Could TalkImpotenceIn a Queer VoiceIn Praise of the WhipIn the Mood, AgainInsatiable WivesIntense Games DVDInvestigating Young People's Sexual CulturesIt's Perfectly NormalIt's Perfectly NormalItís Your HourJane Sexes It UpJock SturgesJust Between UsKama-Sutra--The Secrets to the Art of LoveKids Gone WildLegalizing ProstitutionLegalizing ProstitutionLet's Get This StraightLets Talk about SexLetters to Penthouse Vol. 50Likely to DieLittle ChicagoLoose GirlLosing Matt ShepardLoveLove and DesireLove and SexLove JunkieLove Lust DesireLove SickLustMad for FoucaultMagical ThinkingMaking American BoysMaking Babies the Hard WayMaking Chastity SexyMaking Peace with PornMaking ScenesMale SexualityMalefemaleMaster BreastsMating in CaptivityMedicalized MasculinitiesMelancholia and MoralismMenMental Health Issues in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities MiddlesexMoney ShotMoral Panics, Sex PanicsMy Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me UpMy HeartbeatMy Horizontal LifeName All the AnimalsNatural BeautyNerveNerveNew Sex Now DVDNightswimmingNone of the AboveNormalNormalNot GayNot The Marrying KindNot Under My RoofNothing PinkOedipus WreckedOn Being RapedOne Hot SecondOne Hour in ParisOpenOrgasmOrgasm Inc.OrgasmologyOrgasmsOver 100 Truly Astonishing Sex TipsOverexposedPeekPeriod PiecesPervPhilosophizing About Sex Philosophy of Love, Sex, and MarriagePin-up GrrrlsPINSPlease Don't Kill the FreshmanPolicing SexualityPolyamory in the 21st CenturyPornPorn NationPorn StudiesPorn UniversityPornifiedPornlandPornographyPornographyPornography, Sex, and FeminismPosition Of The Day PlaybookPray the Gay AwayPredatorsPremarital Sex in AmericaPrinciples and Practice of Sex TherapyPrivate Dicks - Men ExposedPrivate Practices DVDProblem GirlsPrudePsychopathia SexualisQueer PhilosophyRapeRape Is RapeRated X - A Journey Through PornRazmatazRecruiting Young LoveRedefining GirlyRedefining RapeRegulating SexRethinking Gender and Sexuality in ChildhoodRethinking RapeRunning with ScissorsSatan's Sex BookScreening SexSelling Sex ShortSexSex & Single GirlsSex (Ed)Sex and SpiritSex and the American TeenagerSex and the SoulSex and the Soul, Updated EditionSex and WarSex at DawnSex by NumbersSex DetoxSex Fiends, Perverts, and PedophilesSex in CrisisSex ObjectSex OffendersSex on the BrainSex PositionsSex Q & ASex, Family, and the Culture WarsSex, or the UnbearableSex, Therapy, and KidsSex, Time and PowerSextasySexting and Young PeopleSexual ArtSexual Boundary ViolationsSexual DevianceSexual DisordersSexual EcstasySexual EthicsSexual FluiditySexual IntelligenceSexual Orientation and Psychodynamic PsychotherapySexual Orientation and School PolicySexual PleasureSexual PredatorsSexual Teens, Sexual MediaSexuality in AdolescenceSexuationSexyBookShameShamelessShy GirlSlutWalkSmall FavorsSmutSocial Control of Sex OffendersSome Assembly RequiredSplit ScreenStir-FryStraight to JesusStrange BedfellowsStripped BareSurviving Sexual ViolenceSymptoms of Being HumanTalkTalk to Me FirstTechniques of PleasureThe Anthropology of SexThe BabiesThe Better Sex Guide to the Kama SutraThe Big Book of PornThe Birth of the PillThe Blue Moon Erotic Reader IIIThe BodyThe Breast BookThe Breath of Tantric LoveThe Busy Couple's Guide to Great SexThe Case of the Female OrgasmThe Chemistry Between UsThe Clitoral TruthThe Education of SophieThe Emergence of SexualityThe End Of AliceThe End of SexThe Erotic EdgeThe Erotic Lives of WomenThe Essential KamasutraThe Fate of GenderThe First Man-Made ManThe First TimeThe Gay Baby BoomThe Good Vibrations Guide to SexThe Happy Hook-UpThe Hite ReportThe Humble Little CondomThe Illustrated Guide to Extended Massive OrgasmThe Illustrated Story of OThe Love CureThe Madness of WomenThe Men They Will BecomeThe Mirror of LoveThe Miseducation of Cameron PostThe Moral Panics of SexualityThe Naked Truth About SexThe Nature of Sexual DesireThe New Erotic PhotographyThe New Gay TeenagerThe Notebook GirlsThe Only Girl in the CarThe Order of the Poison OakThe Origins of SexThe Other HollywoodThe Other PlaceThe Other Side of DesireThe Perils of MasculinityThe Perversion of YouthThe Philosophy of PornographyThe Philosophy of Sex: Contemporary ReadingsThe Pleasure's All MineThe Politics Of LustThe Porn TrapThe Pornographer's GriefThe Pornography IndustryThe Praeger Handbook of TranssexualityThe Psychodynamics of Gender and Gender RoleThe Purity MythThe Real Truth About Teens and SexThe Right to Be ParentsThe Secret Lives of GirlsThe Sex Addiction WorkbookThe Sex Lives of TeenagersThe Sex MythThe Shared HeartThe Sleep of ReasonThe Smart Girl's Guide to PornThe Story of SexThe SurrenderThe Ten Minute Sexual SolutionThe Tenth CircleThe Transformations of GwenThe Transformations of GwenThe Trauma MythThe Ultimate Guide to Sex and DisabilityThe Vagina MonologuesThe ValleyThe Violence of CareThe Virgin BlueThe Virginity ClubThings Tom LikesThinking KinkThinking XXXToo Hot to HandleTransTransTransgender Children and YouthUltimate JudgementUltimate SexUndoing GenderUnlikelyUntangling the WebVirginVirgin NationVirgin Sex for GirlsVirgin Sex for GuysVirginity LostWhat Women WantWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for BoysWhat's Happening to My Body? Book for GirlsWhat's Happening to Tom?What's Wrong with Homosexuality?When Jeff Comes HomeWhen Sex Goes to SchoolWhen the Piano StopsWhere Do We Fall When We Fall in Love?Who Has What?Who's Been Sleeping in Your HeadWilhelm ReichWired for IntimacyWomen and Child Sexual AbuseWomen and MadnessWritten in the FleshZen Sex
This book invokes its title from Helen Gurley Brown's 1962 Sex
and the Single Girl, an advice book (Cosmopolitan
magazine style) for the newly sexually liberated female of the
time. Much has changed since 1962, and women today navigate a
wholly different sexual landscape. While possibilities abound,
so do conflicting expectations regarding women and sexuality.
Lee Damsky points out in her introduction that Brown's concept
of "the single girl," warped and reductionist as it
was in the 60's, makes even less sense today. Attempting to understand
what single girls are up to these days, Damsky warns that "the
last thing we need is another advice book. But with so many possibilities
and so few role models, I couldn't help being curious about what
other women are doing with their sex lives these days." The
purpose of this collection is explore the sexuality of Gen X women,
understanding all the while that sexuality and sexual expression
are not separate from the rest of women's lives. The sexual decisions
we make (and don't make) say a lot about who we are and how we
understand the world we live in.
Sex and Single Girls is a feminist collection of 44 essays
from straight and queer women telling their own stories of sexual
experiences, identities and desires. This collection explores how
these varied women currently understand their own sexuality and
the sexuality of others. Contributors come from a variety of backgrounds
and sexual/gender orientations: all flavors of queer and straight,
a variety of class, racial and cultural backgrounds, able-bodied
and disabled women. Contributors also represent a broad variety
of sexual experiences; from Black Artemis, a thirty year-old virgin,
writing about the joys of solo sex with sex toys in "Armed
and Satisfied", to Meg Daly's "The Allure of the One-Night
Stand," in which she writes about the one-night stand as
"a sort of enigmatic lover in itself . . . [that] I would
court for years to come." Contributors write about solo sex,
group sex, vanilla sex, BDSM sex, sex drives, sexual relationships,
sex ed - the list could go on and on.
Although some of these essays are pretty steamy, and graphic details
are rarely held back, this is not an erotica collection. This
book is at turns hilarious, tender, and sad, but never disappointing.
I found myself wanting to send essays to friends of mine, and
this book will definitely make into more than a few of my buddies
stockings this holiday season. It reminds me of discussions I
have had over the years with friends, as we talk sex and relationships.
However, this book brings me insights from so many wonderful women
I have not had the pleasure of counting among my friends. Many
of the themes that emerge are familiar to me. As a Gen X girl
myself, I understand the struggle to define and defend sexual
autonomy in a sex-saturated culture. Like many of the writers,
I too grew up on a diet of pornography, with sophisticated knowledge
of sexual techniques and jargon years before I learned about my
own sexual desires. This "information age" of sexuality
has forced us to become more discerning, but has also left us
much room to explore. This collection helps put a frame of reference
on these experiences, and asserts female sexuality as the many-faceted,
many-splendored thing it is.
Let me give you a brief sampling of some of my favorites from
this collection. Probably my favorite essay is "Seductions
of a Bordertown Boy," in which Karleen Pendleton-Jiménez
recounts her experiences of living in an ambiguously gendered
body as a Latina butch lesbian. This essay ends with the retelling
of a (metaphorical?) sexual encounter between the writer and -
you're not going to believe this - President Clinton. Our writer
tops Clinton, as he explains that "he no longer had sexual
relations with heterosexual women, or men, or anyone else besides
butch dykes. That [this] sexuality defied any regulation definition
of sexual relations thought up by any legal or government system."
This is good stuff. Ironic, hilarious, and very smart, this essay
is an excellent examination of the complicated power dynamics
that accompany sex. In fact, the link between sex and power is
a theme that runs through many of the essays, with each author
offering up a slightly different take on the subject.
Adrien-Alice Hansel, in "The Long Walk Home," explores
the power of self-definition and community regulation. Raised
in a working class environment with her relatives, Hansel's mother
struggled to paste a middle-class veneer onto their lives, often
with disastrous results. Hansel never spoke in her childhood world
of her lesbian desires and activities, since desire, and especially
lesbian desire, was a taboo subject. "I wasn't victimized
or ashamed," she says, "I was invisible." Later,
as she entered the lesbian community, she found no place to speak
of her working class background. Hansel laments that "The
queer community has bred as much complacency as comfort, much
like the farmland of my youth . . . The world I have entered denies
the world I am from." This theme of duality and integration
is also echoed in many of these essays. Contributors discuss the
many communities they belong to in which they can express the
many sides of themselves, but find few, if any spaces in which
to be their whole self.
Magdalen takes a more humorous and applied approach to this problem
in "Confusion is Sex," when she wonders "why's
it so damned difficult to find someone you're sexually compatible
with? And if you should find him or her, what are the chances
that your non-sexual lives, traits and preferences will match
up to any reasonable degree?" As she ponders the possible
reasons for this all too common disjuncture between "Real
Life" and "Sex Life" she forms a few hypotheses.
My personal favorite: "It could be caused by a secret potion,
dumped into the water by local freebie newspapers to ensure the
ongoing popularity of their personal ads."
The women we hear from in these pages relate varied tales of coming
into their own sexual power, and of having it taken from them.
We hear of rape, childhood sexual abuse, and sexual harassment
in more than a few of these essays. It is unfortunate but true
that we cannot talk about women's sexuality without discussing
women's sexual victimization. But their stories, bold and unflinching,
show us the resiliency and cleverness of women as they take control
of their sexuality and their lives.
Women take this control in many ways - by shunning stereotypes,
interrogating their own desire, reclaiming sexual scripts and
stereotypes, and never making assumptions. Simplistic understandings
of gender, sexuality, feminism and desire are blown apart inside
the covers of this book. Sex and Single Girls is wholly
unpredictable and immensely satisfying. I recommend it without
reservation to anyone looking for a more real picture of sexuality
in all its wonderful forms.
Kari Kesler recently
completed her Master's degree in Women's Studies at Texas Woman's
University. She has published work on feminism and sexuality in
Jane Sexes it Up,
and her research interests include sexuality, lesbian and queer
studies, and Latina culture. She now resides in Seattle, Washington
and works for a sexual assault resource center.
© 2001 Kari Kesler