Since I started Sex, Love, Liberation, I’ve been immersing myself in books/films that deepen my knowledge of sex/sexuality & further my own self-growth. My efforts to dive into these intricate topics are equal parts research, curiosity, & personal agenda.
Anytime I’m having a conversation about the work that I do, these books/films inevitably come up. They’re just so important.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of these books/films that have impacted my work & transformed my own beliefs. I challenge you to read one of these books or watch one of these films, if only to deepen your own knowledge & ask some much needed questions.
(Note: A few links in this article contain content not safe for work.)
Sex at Dawn, by Christopher Ryan & Cacilda Jetha
I purchased this book out of sheer curiosity, knowing that it would undoubtedly challenge my own views of monogamy. What I didn’t expect, however, was how clearly the picture of Humans are Non-Monogamous Creatures would be painted.
Written with an intelligence of science & research, but told using simple, comprehensible lingo (& a splash of humor!), I found myself coming face to face with thoughts I never thought I would have: Are we (humans) meant to be monogamous creatures?
Even if you don’t “believe” in non-monogamy, & even if the topic itself activates feelings of uneasiness &/or skepticism, if you are the least bit curious about our mating habits as humans & the direction that modern relationships are going in, Sex at Dawn is a must read.
But only if you can keep your mind open.
The Perfect Vagina (link to film)
I was turned on to this free, online documentary after attending a presentation by Wrenna Robertson, the author of the bold book I’ll Show You Mine (which I’ll talk about in a minute). The film is precisely about what the title conveys: The perfect vagina, & how (& why) so many women are latching onto unrealistic ideas of what their precious genitals are supposed to look like.
This goes beyond feeling insecure about the way your ladybits look on the outside. It deals with a heartbreaking epidemic of self-hatred so severe that drastic measures are being taken, such as labiaplasty, a surgery designed to cosmetically alter womens’ genitals to a more “normal” look.
The creator of the film documents the journeys & stories of three women in the UK who have struggled with loving their vulvas to the point of wanting to go under the knife. (One girl actually does, & the procedure is shown in the film.)
This documentary is the perfect pairing to the post I did about pubic hair. It’ll definitely get you thinking.
I’ll Show You Mine, by Wrenna Robertson
As I mentioned above, I recently attended a presentation in Portland surrounding the courageous book, I’ll Show You Mine, “a photo study of female genitalia and a window into women’s experiences of their genitals. [It] contains 120 photographs of 60 women, with all women photographed from the same two positions.” (The author’s words.)
To be a bit more clear, I’ll Show You Mine features pictures of 60 womens’ vulvas unabashedly & in the flesh.
Some might use the word “graphic” to describe this book, but I prefer real.
The reason: To fully appreciate the uniqueness & beauty of our varying genitals.
I’m sure this book is not meant to be one that rests on a coffee table, but it proudly sits on mine, & the conversations that ensue from it are as much needed as they are interesting.
Bi the Way (preview)
As I try to make sense of my own fluid sexuality, the topic of bisexuality is one that gets tossed around in my head (& in my conversations) quite often. So I rejoiced a little when I found this documentary, which examines a sexual orientation that is often labeled as “fickle” or “nonexistent.”
Bi the Way follows the lives of several men & women (even an 11-year-old boy) who are trying to come to terms with their bisexuality & the issues surrounding it. While listening to their candid stories, commentary & opinions from psychologists, anthropologists, celebrities, & evolution biologists are strewn throughout to challenge your thought process.
This film doesn’t dispel any myths surrounding bisexuality, nor does it settle the issue once & for all. But it certainly makes you think. And sometimes that’s all you need.
You can either watch this film free online, or on Netflix (it’s currently streaming instant).
Orgasm Inc (preview)
If I went to a doctor today & told him about my sexual appetite, I would most likely be diagnosed with FSD, or female sexual dysfunction. If you are a woman who has any trouble with sex &/or orgasm — low libido, lack of arousal, inability to orgasm, trouble reaching orgasm, etc. — you’d also be classified as someone suffering from FSD.
But what is FSD? Where does it come from? When did it reach the status of an “epidemic” amongst women? And does it even exist?
In Orgasm Inc, we get a shocking look at pharmaceutical companies’ urgency to create & release a drug that monopolizes on the intricate design of womens’ sexuality through scaremongering & greed.
I remember watching this film & feeling outraged by the emphasis put on a “problem” that has been blatantly manufactured & shoved down the throats of women everywhere, sealing in this misconception that womens’ sexualities are broken & need fixing.
If you watch/read nothing else in this post, please watch this film (available on Netflix).
The Ethical Slut, by Dossie Easton & Janet Hardy
The title of this book scared the dickens out of me when a dear friend of mine recommended it to me. I was going through a tumultuous time in my marriage, spurred on by my husband’s confession of being “polyamorous.”
I never thought that this book would end up in my house, nor did I think that I would ever list it as a must-read (& I’m quite sure my friend is giggling to herself that I even have it on my nightstand). But it has proven to be an impactful read.
The Ethical Slut is quite simply a book that guides one through the muck, mire, & excitement of open relationships & polyamory: the do’s, the don’ts, the emotions, the jealousies, the boundaries. For me, though, The Ethical Slut facilitated some deep discussions between Jonathan & I, which helped us heal through unadulterated honesty.
Even if you have no desire to open up your relationship, this book provokes some interesting conversations on the topic of non-monogamy (& can be paired perfectly with Sex at Dawn). Read it aloud with your lover; educate yourself on varying styles of alternative relationships; ask yourself questions that only the subject of polyamory would allow you to think about.
But if you can’t have an open mind about this book or its subject, you need not bother reading it.
Regardless, I think everyone & every couple should have the non-monogamy talk.
(Eventually, I plan on writing about this, as I’ve been exploring & the option of non-monogamy in my own relationship.)
Q: What books/films have you watched/read recently that impacted your views on sex & sexuality?
(Want more recommendations? Check out my collection of things I find erotic.)