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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A wonderfully unexpected review for Best Sex Writing 2009

More than getting a good review, I'd say getting a review that gets it is important to me, a review that understands, especially when we're talking about the Best Sex Writing series, that it's not about titillation, at least, of the genitals. Perhaps titillation of the mind. It's why I was excited that Best Sex Writing 2009 won the Independent Publisher (IPPY) Award for 2009 for Sexuality/Relationships (and I plan to enter Best Sex Writing 2010).

That's why I so so appreciate David Cooper's Best Sex Writing 2009 review at New York Journal of Books. It's long and studious and carefully considered (he mentions my NYU Law status, though, alas, I am not actually an alumna, just a former student).

Here's a portion of the review, which introduced me to their site. I'm bookmarking it.

In “An Open Letter to The Bush Administration” professional dominatrix Mistress Morgana Maye complains that the Bush administration’s conduct in Iraq (such as the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib) has given torture and humiliation a bad name, which has adversely affected her business. She combines deadpan, straight forward prose with an undertone of irony that hits just the right note. In “The Pleasure of Unpleasure” erotic fiction writer Kristina Lloyd explains why she finds pain, submission, and humiliation freeing. In the words of her fictional character Kate, “I’m coming to realize that I want this not because I’m worthless and I must suffer. It’s because I’m human and life’s tough. Letting go is so powerful. Surrender transforms me. I adore oblivion.” Lloyd admits that Kate is “conflicted about her sexuality. I think this is true of a lot of people whose kinks are on the dark side, and I think this is okay . . . for plenty of people, suffering and degradation is intensely erotic. It’s the pleasure of unpleasure, of being split between yes and no.” Although she intends to accomplish the opposite, Lloyd’s article may confirm the commonly held suspicion that people who are into BDSM are somehow emotionally damaged. Brian Alexander reports on The American Psychiatric Association’s attempts to confirm or refute that suspicion in “What’s Normal Sex?” He reminds us that oral sex and masturbation also were once considered deviant...

In Iraq in an attempt not to offend local sensibilities our government has banned the possession of sexually explicit printed materials, DVDs, and sex toys by men and women serving in the military and as civilian contractors, according to Tom Johansmeyer’s “War Games: No WMDs but Military Police Find ‘Dangerous’ Dildos in Iraq.” It turns out that plain plastic vibrators are acceptable, but dildos that resemble male genitals are not. MPs are supposed to provide several hours advance notice before a raid and each service member or contractor is supposed to witness the search of his or her belongings. A raid that failed to comply with those guidelines turned up pornography in men’s barracks and dildos in women’s barracks. The pornography and adult products industry, which has been very supportive of the troops, is especially upset that Americans serving in dangerous conditions cannot use their products to relieve stress.

Sadly many returning vets will have difficulty resuming normal sex lives. Don Vaughan describes how and why in “Sexual Problems: A Common Side Effect of Combat-Related PTSD.” Other returning vets may have to overcome physical injuries that impair their sexual functioning. In “Immaculate Orgasm: Who Needs Genitals?” Mary Roach reveals that 40–50% of patients with injured spinal cords are able to reach orgasm despite their injuries. The spinal cord controls the voluntary nervous system but not the autonomic nervous system, and it turns out that orgasm is controlled by the latter. Moreover orgasm in unimpaired people results from a two-way stream of stimuli: mental stimuli that travel from the brain to the genitals and physical stimuli that move in the opposite direction. People with spinal cord injuries may be able to reach orgasm with one directional stimulation. You don’t have to be a science nerd to enjoy this fascinating article. I’m a humanities nerd, and this article makes me want to read the book from which it is excerpted.

To recap:

Best Sex Writing 2009
edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Introduction: Sex is Everywhere (click to read)
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

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At February 11, 2010, Blogger davidfcooper said...

Glad you like the review, Rachel. It's a reprint of the review I posted on Amazon a year ago (you had sent me an advance copy for that purpose).



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