Copies of Best Sex Writing 2009 are in the offices of my publisher, Cleis Press, and will be in bookstores and online stores any day now!
That means it’s time to start blogging about sex right here and interviewing my contributors. Stay tuned!
Here’s the Table of Contents and introduction:
Best Sex Writing 2009
edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Introduction: Sex is Everywhere
One Rape, Please (to Go) Tracie Egan
Searching for Normal: Do Dating Websites for People with STIs Liberate or Quarantine? Lynn Harris
Father Knows Best Amanda Robb
An Open Letter to the Bush Administration Mistress Morgana Maye
The Pleasure of Unpleasure Kristina Lloyd
What’s “Normal” Sex? Brian Alexander
Unleash the Beast “Josephine Thomas”
Is Cybersex Cheating? Violet Blue
Sex Offenders!! Kelly Davis
War Games: No WMDs but Military Police Find “Dangerous” Dildos in Iraq Tom Johansmeyer
In Defense of Casual Sex Tracy Clark-Flory
Soulgasm Dagmar Herzog
Sexual Problems: A Common Side Effect of Combat-Related PTSD Don Vaughn
Penises I Have Known Daphne Merkin
Sex Is the Most Stressful Thing in the Universe Dan Vebber
Silver-Balling Stacey D’Erasmo
Sex Dolls for the Twenty-First Century David Levy
Dear John Susannah Breslin
Oldest Profession 2.0: A New Generation of Local “Providers” and “Hobbyists” Create a Virtual Red-Light District Keegan Hamilton
How “Swingers” Might Save Hollywood from a Federal Pornography Statute Alan Levy
Why Bathroom Sex Is Hot James Hannaham
Kids and Comstockery, Back (and Forward) in the Day Debbie Nathan
The Immaculate Orgasm: Who Needs Genitals? Mary Roach
Introduction: Sex Is Everywhere
Sex is everywhere–in our bedrooms, classrooms, courtrooms, and offices, as well as on our TV and movie screens, streets, and newspapers. This was a big year for sex, from prostitution (Eliot Spitzer, Ashley Dupré, Deborah Jeane Palfrey) to teen pregnancy (Jamie Lynn Spears, Bristol Palin) and beyond.
You don’t have to look far to find sex, but you do have to get a bit bolder when looking for writing and thinking about sex that doesn’t play to the lowest common denominator. The essays and articles here explore the big, bad (and good) world of sex in many forms, from online personals sites (for those with STIs) to impassioned arguments for casual sex (and bathroom sexæsometimes one and the same, sometimes not), as well as affairs, purity balls, penises, cybersex, and more.
As I said earlier, sex is everywhereæincluding on the battlefields of Iraq. We may think of sex and war as mutually exclusive terrains, but as Don Vaughn’s story about sexual dysfunction and combat-related PTSD and Tom Johansmeyer’s “War Games,”—which looks at one contractor’s and two female soldiers’ penalization for possessing porn and dildos, respectively—make clear, the two are intricately linked. In fact, there’s no area of our lives where sex doesn’t play a role, even (or perhaps, especially) religion. In “Soulgasm,” an excerpt from Dagmar Herzog’s excellent book Sex in Crisis: The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics, she looks at what Christian sex educators are saying about sex (from oral to anal to vibrators), and their advice may very well surprise you.
Our current mores and rules about sex didn’t spring up out of nowhere, as Debbie Nathan shows in her exploration of early twentieth-century vice czar Anthony Comstock.
The personal stories here are ones I think may best illuminate how complex, individualistic, confusing and profound sex can be. In “One Rape, Please (to Go),” Tracie Egan boldly starts out, “I blame my recurring rape fantasy on the fact that I’m a feminist.” If that’s not enough to keep you reading, I’ll give you a clue as to what happens next: she hires a man to pretend to rape her, but what she gets in return is not quite what she bargained for. Similarly, in Dan Vebber’s “Sex Is the Most Stressful Thing in the Universe,” the goal of finally having sex becomes exalted to the point of mania, with a little help from his overly neurotic girlfriend.
I’d like to give special thanks to Miriam Axel-Lute and the Sex Positive Journalism Awards (aka, the Sexies). Their project was launched in order “to recognize the times when journalists stick to the standards of their craft in the face of such challenges and produce good, informative journalism that spreads accurate sexual information, stays fair in covering highly charged topics, and celebrates healthy sexuality as a positive force in people’s lives.” “War Games” by Tom Johansmeyer, was one of their runner-ups for Sex-Themed Publications, and all of their winners are worth reading (see sexies.org).
There were many extraordinary pieces I was not able to include in this book. Please visit bestsexwriting2009.wordpress.com for links to some of these pieces and to read more about the latest in sex.
With Best Sex Writing 2008, many people said they’d expected something far juicer from the racy cover. If you’re looking for the latest jerk-off material, please check Cleis Press’s website for their many fine erotica offerings; this is not one of those books, though some of these stories may titillate you or spark your erotic imagination. I always recall that the brain is the biggest sex organ. Learning about sex can inspire us to be better, more knowledgeable and more empathetic lovers, family members, and citizens.
I hope this book will open your mind and make you think about your own sexuality, as well as your neighbors’, politicians’, and best friends’. It’s given me plenty of food for thought and I’m grateful that sex continues to challenge us to think, explore and appreciate its many nuances.
Rachel Kramer Bussel