Authors: Rachel Kramer Bussel
best sex writing
best sex writing
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Copyright © 2009 by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Foreword copyright © 2009 by Brian Alexander.
All rights reserved. Except for brief passages quoted in newspaper, magazine, radio, or television reviews, no part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.
Published in the United States by
Cleis Press Inc., P.O. Box 14697, San Francisco, California 94114.
Printed in the United States. Cover design: Scott Idleman
Cover photograph: Christine Kessler Text design: Frank Wiedemann Logo art: Juana Alicia
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
“One Rape, Please (to Go)” by Tracie Egan was originally published in
magazine, Vol.14 No.8.“Searching for Normal” by Lynn Harris was originally published on Nerve.com, February 26, 2008. “Father Knows Best” by Amanda Robb was originally published in
July 2007. “An Open Letter to the Bush Administration” by Mistress Morgana Maye was originally published in
Sex for America: Politically Inspired Erotica
(Harper Perennial) edited by Stephen El- liott, 2008. “The Pleasure of Unpleasure” by Kristina Lloyd was originally published on Lust Bites (lustbites.blogspot.com), October 1, 2007. “What’s ‘Normal’ Sex?” by Brian Alexander was originally published on MSNBC.com, May 22, 2008.“Unleash the Beast” by “Josephine Thomas” was originally published in
Over the Hill and Between the Sheets: Sex, Love, and Lust in Middle Age
(Springboard Press) edited by Gail Belsky, 2008.“Is Cybersex Cheating?” byViolet Blue was origi- nally published on SFGate.com, July 17, 2008. “Sex Offenders!!” by Kelly Davis was originally published in
San Diego City Beat,
April 15, 2008.“War Games” by Tom Johansmeyer was originally published in AVN Online
November 2007. “In Defense of Casual Sex” by Tracy Clark-Flory: this article first appeared in Salon.com, August 1, 2008. An online version remains in the Salon archives. Reprinted with permission.“Soulgasm” by Dagmar Herzog was originally published in
Sex in Crisis:The New Sexual Revolution and the Future of American Politics
(Basic Books) by Dagmar Herzog, 2008. Reprinted by permission of Basic Books , a member of Perseus Books Group. “Sexual Problems…” by Don Vaughan was originally published in
November 2007. “Penises I Have Known” by Daphne Merkin was originally published in
June 2007. “Sex Is the Most Stressful Thing in the Universe” by DanVebber was originally published in
Things I’ve Learned fromWomenWho’ve Dumped Me
(Grand Central Publishing) edited by Ben Karlin, 2008. “Silver-Balling” by Stacey D’Erasmo was originally published in
DirtyWords:A Literary Encyclopedia of Sex
(Bloomsbury) edited by Ellen Sussman, 2008. “Sex Dolls for the Twenty-First Century” by David Levy was originally published in
Love and Sex with Robots:The Evolution of Human-Ro- bot Relationships
(Harper) by David Levy, 2007. “Dear John” by Susannah Breslin was originally published on Newsweek.com, May 26, 2008. “Oldest Profession 2.0” by Keegan Hamilton was originally published in
River Front Times,
June 4, 2008. “How ‘Swingers’ Might Save Hollywood from a Federal Pornography Statute” by Alan Levy was originally published in
Yale Law Journal Pocket Part,
April 28, 2008.“Why Bathroom Sex Is Hot” by James Hannaham: this article first ap- peared in Salon.com,August 31, 2007.An online version remains in the Salon archives. Reprinted with permission.“Kids and Comstockery, Back (and Forward) in the Day” by Debbie Nathan was originally published on Debbienathan.com, June 1, 2008. “The Immaculate Orgasm” by Mary Roach was originally published in
Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex
(W.W. Norton) by Mary Roach, 2008.
x Introduction: Sex Is Everywhere
1 One Rape, Please (to Go)
9 Searching for Normal: Do Dating Websites for People with STIs Liberate or Quarantine?
17 Father Knows Best
27 An Open Letter to the Bush Administration
31 The Pleasure of Unpleasure
36 What’s “Normal”Sex?
43 Unleash the Beast
52 Is Cybersex Cheating?
57 Sex Offenders!!
69 War Games: No WMDs but Military Police Find “Dangerous” Dildos in Iraq
77 In Defense of Casual Sex
98 Sexual Problems: A Common Side Effect of Combat-Related PTSD
108 Penises I Have Known
121 Sex Is the Most Stressful Thing in the Universe
132 Sex Dolls for the Twenty-First Century
144 Dear John
148 Oldest Profession 2.0: A New Generation of Local “Providers” and “Hobbyists” Create a Virtual Red-Light District
163 How “Swingers” Might Save Hollywood from a Federal Pornography Statute
171 Why Bathroom Sex Is Hot
176 Kids and Comstockery, Back (and Forward) in the Day
182 The Immaculate Orgasm:Who Needs Genitals?
197 About the Authors
204 About the Editor
Br ian Alexander
“Sex writing” is a loaded term. Any term with “sex” as one of its parts is loaded, I suppose, but “sex writing” has a certain cachet among writers and publishers, and it’s not a good one.While “sex” may sell, sex writing has the reputation of being not only lowbrow, but lousy.
The term evokes images of cliché-ridden scenes, all sweat and moaning and inane talk. Ironic prizes are given for that sort of thing. Even great writers stumble over intercourse, oral sex, kink. How many naughty words are too many? Which euphemisms work and which ones sound uncomfortably junior high? How much detail is just too much? The possible double entendres alone are enough to frustrate basic composition. In the paragraph that follows this one, I wanted to use the phrase—grappling with sex—then thought better of it because I pictured something altogether too Greco- Roman.
Best s ex Writing 2009
In these pages you are not only going to find a variety of an- swers to these style questions, but, more importantly, a variety of answers to the larger question of how Americans are adapting (the grappling was going to go here) to new opportunities for sexual exploration.You may sharply disagree with the views of some writ- ers, agree with others, and utter more than one “Eww!” as you read, but you if you pay attention, you will find a remarkable portrait of the great Technicolor rainbow mash-up of American sex.
We live in a country in which, contrary to our reputation, there are almost no rules adults are expected to obey when it comes to sex (though there are many rules some people wish we would all obey). How are we making sense of the new online sex world? Is such a thing even possible? Sex dolls? (I mean, really, sex dolls?) What’s going on at the intersection of feminism and sexuality? Some sort of redefinition, sure, but “One Rape, Please (to Go)” by Tracie Egan? Daphne Merkin, in “Penises I Have Known,” braves peer pressure to fess up that she likes men, or at least one part of them, and isn’t it about time a woman said so?
Of course every revolution leaves some people behind, and try- ing to keep up with that group of people I call “sexual hipsters” can be a little unnerving. In his hilarious “Sex Is the Most Stressful Thing in the Universe,” Dan Vebber says what many men wish we could say even if we haven’t had his astounding bad luck. And, as the writer of a sex column for MSNBC.com and author of a book about American sex, I have personally experienced the dread of being caught out as hopelessly clueless that Stacey D’Erasmo en- counters in “Silver-Balling.”
How do we regulate this explosion of sex? Should we try? Who gets to do what to whom and how? Sex crime is a real problem, of course, but how do we handle sex offenders? Kelly Davis raises provocative questions that run counter to the conventional wis-
B ri A n A lex A nder
dom. Should a soldier be able to have a dildo in a combat zone? Is prostitution really a victimless crime? America’s incessant push-pull over sex often takes place in courtrooms and police dockets and here you’ll find some interesting examinations of the weird legal quilt we have woven.
Rachel Kramer Bussel, the primary editor most responsible for this collection, has done a bang-up job (see what I mean?) of select- ing representative examples of America’s changing sex life.Think of it as an album of snapshots from which you can get a good idea of your neighbor’s summer vacation, without having to sit for all those hours in a hot car driving past the Bob’s Big Boys and the sketchy fireworks stands before you get to the good parts.
Sex is everywhere—in our bedrooms, classrooms, courtrooms, and offices, as well as on our TV and movie screens, streets, and news- papers.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 impas- sioned arguments for casual sex (and bathroom sex—sometimes one and the same, sometimes not), as well as affairs, purity balls, penises, cybersex, and more.
As I said earlier, sex is everywhere—including on the battlefields of Iraq.We may think of sex and war as mutually exclusive terrains,
but as Don Vaughan’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 pos- sessing porn and dildos, respectively—make clear, the two are intri- cately 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.