Eugene Weekly reviews Best Sex Writing 2010 and plugs Sunday night's reading with me, Kerry Cohen (aka Michelle Perrot) and Janet Hardy!
The fury comes in specifically in one of the strongest non-personal pieces, Judith Levine’s brilliant “What’s the Matter with Teen Sexting?” Hey! That’s a great damn question! Why are (some) adults so freaked out about teen sexuality? How could anyone prosecute kids as sex offenders for sending nude photos of themselves to their friends or partners?
Well, perhaps it’s because they never read Thomas MacAulay Millar’s “Toward a Performance Model of Sex,” which takes the women’s sexuality=cow milk equivalence and knocks it back into the Pandora’s box of misogyny. Admittedly, Millar’s is a long, meandering, top-heavy argument that spends too long with the buildup and not enough time at the climax, but combined with Ellen Friedrichs’ “Sex Laws That Can Really Screw You,” the essay provides a powerful backing for reconceptualizing sexual agency.
In between these more reported, factual pieces come the first-person experience snippets. Some of these, like Perrot’s, are both literary and erotic; some of them, like Diana Joseph’s “The Girl Who Only Sometimes Said No” and Kirk Read’s “It’s a Shame About Ray,” contain moving portraits of their writers or the people closest to them. Joseph’s piece in particular illustrates sensitive, painful clashes between parent and child, between different conceptualizations of female sexuality, between the mom’s experiences of a sexual life and the junior-high-aged son’s callous dismissal of girls’ ability to define themselves. “The Girl Who Only Sometimes Said No” leads the book, and it’s gorgeous; few of the following pieces live up to its promise, and some are flat-out poorly written even if the information contained in them has value in a society that doesn’t really understand how to talk about sex and sexuality.
Brooklyn Ink podcast takes you inside my erotic writing workshops at Shag in Brooklyn - if you're on the fence about attending, listen to this. I have 2 more (see previous post), February 27 and March 6. Students get high priority with my anthologies - I'm about to announce two more which there'll be lots of spots in. Plus I'm bringing cupcakes. The last 2 workshops have been small but fascinating.