Seven feminist books on sex

We’re fortunate to be living in a time where content about sex is everywhere; with shows like Sex Education on our screens and nearly every online magazine running a buzzing sex and relationships section, topics like pleasure and identity have been brought to the forefront of discussion, just a click away.

This is fantastic, but many people may find themselves craving a deeper-dive, longer form exploration of these topics. If you fall into this category, or are simply looking for your next read, the list below is for you. From a comic book full of sex advice to an exploration of ethical non-monogomy, The F-Word editors Connie and Cleo have compiled these titles, and we hope to give you some thought provoking feminist reading material to add to your bookshelf.

Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, by Emily Nagowski
This book came highly recommended to me, with more than one friend insisting that reading it had been a transformative experience for them. It did not disappoint, and it remains one of the most profoundly reassuring books I’ve ever read. Focused on recent scientific findings in the historically under researched area of women’s sexuality, Come As You Are offers pertinent insight into the psychological and physical mechanisms that govern our sex drives and the complex and numerous ways in which they interact. But it does so much more than inform. The book reads more like therapy, with Nagowski encouraging and enabling readers to understand themselves and treat themselves with kindness, as well as giving practical advice for improving sexual wellbeing.

The Ethical Slut: A Guide to Infinite Sexual Possibilities, by Dossie Easton and Janet W. Hardy
Defining slut as “a person of any gender who has the courage to lead life according to the radical proposition that sex is nice and pleasure is good for you”, The Ethical Slut is the essential handbook for navigating the world of ethical non-monogamy. The authors (who both identify as queer and polyamorous) debunk common misconceptions about polyamory, focusing on the importance of open communication, mutual respect, and safe sex practises.

Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again: Women and Desire in the Age of Consent, by Katherine Angel
Angel’s concise book is a refreshing respite from the current confidence culture feminism that dominates discourse around sex and demands that women know what they want and clearly express it with little acknowledgement of the factors that make doing so difficult and often insufficient in ensuring positive sexual experiences. In a post #MeToo world, Angel provides a rare critique of the limitations of enthusiastic consent. With its simple structure, pertinent anecdotes, pop culture references and digestible science, this book remains entertaining, engaging and easy to follow as it takes a nuanced look at the tension between pleasure, desire, vulnerability and danger that we must navigate in the modern day.

How to Have Feminist Sex: A Fairly Graphic Guide, by Flo Perry
In short, this is a sexy comic book full of advice I wish I’d been given when I was a bit younger. Perry’s guide to feminist sex intersperses graphic sketches and prose to cover topics from period sex, to insecurities, to faking orgasms. This is an educational guide for having sex that respects your own desires and boundaries just as much as it respect your partner’s. It’s a resistance to the patriarchal expectations surrounding sex and how we should or shouldn’t be experiencing it. A push towards creating a space where anyone, regardless of gender, race, or any other factors, can openly talk about sex without fear of judgement. Perry’s writing is valuable for anyone whose sex lives have been impeded by insecurities or body image issues.

Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships, by Juno Roche
This book from internationally recognised trans writer and campaigner Juno Roche brings together their own experiences with those of other figures from the trans and non-binary community to discuss intimacy, sexuality and dating. The mix of voices from across generations and different walks of life combine with the book’s frank but warm tone to makes Roche’s memoir/guide the sex-talk every non-binary, trans, gender nonconforming or questioning person deserves. It is also a great read more generally for anyone wanting to think critically about how they view gender and sexuality.

Ace: What Asexuality Reveals About Desire, Society and the Meaning of Sex, by Angela Chen
What is it like to move through life not experiencing sexual attraction in a world that’s obsessed with it? In this multi-award winning book, Angela Chen explores asexuality though a mixture of culture criticism, memoir and the lived experiences of others who fall under the asexual umbrella. Chen does a fantastic job of holding up a magnifying glass to a sexual identity that is so often overlooked and erased, as well as using aesexuality as a lens through which to explore the role of sexual attraction in Western culture more broadly.

Rough, by Rachel Thompson
Rough explores the violence and sexual violations that take place in the bedroom, based on the stories and experiences of fifty women and non-binary people. From a kink-positive and sex-positive position, this book details how male sexual violence manifests in sex culture by way of non-consensual choking, non-consensual rough sex and stealthing. This is a thorough, intersectional deep-dive into how systemic power relations function in the bedroom and how we can subvert or resist them.

Image description: many books are stacked in an interlocking fashion, covering the entire photograph. Some books have their spines facing outwards and others have their leaves facing outwards. The books have been arranged by colour, giving the image a rainbow gradient.

Image provided by Robert Anasch, free to use under the Unsplash license.