Here is a section of my review, followed by an extract from one of my favourite pieces in the book:
The main problem I have with the overall tone and emphasis of Best Sex Writing is that it presents what I think is a false, dangerous dichotomy: sex/sex positive ideas = good v chastity/abstinence ‘anti-sex’ ideas = bad.
This dichotomy is presented, too, in more than one place in the book, as a contrast between atheist and religious perspectives. The chapter for example called ‘atheists have better sex’ is infuriating in its smugness and its prejudice against religious people. Ironically, as I have found with many atheists and sex-positive people in general, this determination that ‘sex is good and atheist sex is best’ is actually an ‘evangelical’ message, and ‘Best Sex Writing’ reads like a religious tract in places.
Also typical of sex positive narratives, Best Sex Writing positions women’s experience and femininity as more interesting and worthy of study than men and masculinity. Amanda Marcotte’s defence of the Slutwalks (feminist marches protesting against a Canadian policeman’s remarks about how women should not dress as sluts if they don’t want to get raped) is an example of this. As is Tracy Clark Flory’s admittedly interesting and humorous account of a workshop devised to unleash the female orgasm. In a piece about some nefarious goings on amongst politicians, Katherine Spillar literally pitches ‘good’ women campaigners against ‘bad’ men politicians and their advisors. As an active non-feminist I am not impressed by this bias in the book.
These criticisms of Best Sex Writing though, do not detract from the quality of some of the contributions. I particularly recommend some of the more personal stories in the book. Rachel Rabbit White, one of my favourite ‘sex writers’, paints a wonderfully evocative portrait of Latina drag artistes and changing times. Marty Klein educates us about men and circumcision, and manages to be funny and sensitive at the same time. And, maybe a little surprisingly to me, Hugo Schwyzer’s honest account of his sexual experiences with men is touching and, I have to say, quite hot!
From: I Want You To Want Me by Hugo Schwyzer:
I grew up on the Monterey Peninsula in the 1980s, home to the now-shuttered Fort Ord and a number of other military installations. Most of the guys I slept with when I was in high school were soldiers or sailors or airmen. On Friday night, a few weeks before my 18th birthday, an older man picked me up on a street corner. I think his name was James; he was a master sargeant. He was certainly one of the oldest guys I ever fucked during my teens, perhaps in his mid-forties.
James was huge- everywhere. When he took off his clothes in the dimly lit Fremont Boulevard motel room, I was turned on and terrified at the same time, and by the same thing. I looked at his cock and his muscles and his tattoos and thought to myself, He could rape me if he wanted. He could kill me with his bare hands. And then he started to take off my clothes, and my fear evaporated.
This giant of a man whispered sweet, sexy words as he pulled off my shirt, shoes and jeans. I’d never been undressed by a lover before; I stood submissive, passive, open-mouthed. I shifted my weight to help him slide off my clothes, but made no other move. I listened.
and if you want to know what happens next, you’ll have to read the book!