I heard Emily Nagoski, author of Come As Your Are, interviewed on a podcast recently. She was very articulate and down-to-earth. I liked that what she said was grounded in science, so I decided to read her book. This book is for women and focuses on women’s sexuality and sexual pleasure. That said, not only should every young woman read it but so should every young man. It dispels all kinds of wrongheaded ideas of how sex works for women.
There are a few ideas that the author literally goes over again and again in the hopes that they will stick. One of these is that all genitals have the same parts organized in different ways. Because of this, unless you are experiencing pain, your genitals, while unique, are normal and beautiful just the way they are.
Another concept she shares is that of nonconcordance. Just because your body is reacting sexually does not mean that you are turned on. Also, you may be turned on while your body is not reacting sexually. Again, this is normal.
The last idea I want to share is that women have a sexual accelerator and a sexual brake. These are separate and have separate sensitivities. All combinations are normal. The trick is to understand your own and how to work with them.
The book is filled with a lot of other useful information as well as worksheets to help you. While this book is about sex, its focus is that you are normal and helping you learn to be comfortable in your own skin and with your own pleasure.
There is a lot of heat and emotion around the subjects of sex and gender. This is most visible in the national debates around the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, but particularly around those concerning transgender individuals. While my own thoughts about such issues have centered on compassion for others, I have been confused about what is really going on for these individuals. Not being a member of this community, I must admit that I do not understand all of the issues. But I long ago concluded that I don’t need to. It isn’t about what I think or understand but about accommodating and caring for people wherever they are and however they see themselves.
Hoping to better educate myself, I recently read the book The End of Gender by Debra Soh, a former sexology researcher who left academia to pursue a career in journalism. The book is a straightforward look at what the science of sexology says about sex and gender and many of the public issues surrounding them. It is an eye-opening book that is likely to both challenge and confirm your views on these subjects, no matter how you feel about identity politics.
This is not a political book, or at least it is not meant to be. It is grounded in published sexology research and takes the position that we ought to be open and clear about the science even if it goes against what we believe or is popular. Some may think this is a license to abuse minorities. The author disagrees. It isn’t the science we should take issue with but how some people use it as a weapon of hate.
The book is organized around nine myths about sex and gender. Two of these myths are “There are more than two genders” and “Sexual orientation and gender identity are unrelated”. Due to the sensitive nature of these topics, you likely reacted strongly to one or both of those statements. I highly encourage you to read this book from a well-educated scientist who uses research to inform her compassion. One of the major concerns she raises is the number of transgender individuals who transition and later change their mind and detransition. Perhaps a better understanding of the science behind sex and gender can lead to better outcomes for those struggling with identity issues.