Sex ed for adults - help needed!

by Jess McCabe // 20 March 2008, 13:20

Following on from Laura's post about the poverty of sex education in the UK, we got thinking about ways to fill in those gaps (and then some) for adults.

Me and Laura are looking to compile a listing of resources on safe, happy, consenting sex, relationships and sexuality, for the over 18 set, who can no longer benefit from whatever wisdom HMG and the national curriculum might impart. Can you help us?

Of course, we're particularly interested in anything which is coming from an explicitly or implicitly feminist perspective. And we're interested in making this as inclusive as possible. That means regardless of/aimed at all levels of experience (beginner to advanced!), sexuality, gender, kink or lack thereof, etc.

Book, blog, website, workshop, feminist/women's sex toy store, DVD, audio tape - whatever it is, we're interested! Not porn though, at least partly because that gets into contentious territory we're not really interested in for this one.

A few words on why you are making the recommendation would also be great. You can tell us anonymously if you so wish in the comments, or email us using the feedback form.

We've got a few resources listed in the bookshop's sex and relationships section, to get your thought process started.

Thank you to Sinclair (NSFW) and figleaf for posting about this! :)

Comments From You

fliss // Posted 20 March 2008 at 14:13

slightly apropo of nothing; but have been trying to post comment about vile Daily Male article on multi abortions and find it impossible to actually get my message past the censors- anyone else found this problem

Katie Lee // Posted 20 March 2008 at 15:10

I remember years ago people forwarding http://www.myvag.net/ around the publishing company I worked at - and sniggering. And while I can see that it has it's comedy moments, it's also strangely useful. You can learn all kinds of things about your ladyparts.

How are you compiling the info? I smell an F-Word Wiki in the air - surely?!

Jess McCabe // Posted 20 March 2008 at 15:15

Hi Katie, and thanks for being the first to post a suggestion in the comments!

Google Docs is the official collaboration tool of choice for the F Word (OK, it's the one I use and impose on everyone else...)

Virago // Posted 20 March 2008 at 15:42

I've been trying to address this a little on my blog, but I've always felt that a bigger resource is needed. If an FWord project was begun I'd love to be in on the ground floor. Some links I used in a post about masturbation include:

http://www.ourbodiesourselves.org/book/companion.asp?id=13&compID=37

http://www.babeland.com/sexinfo/howto/

Both with feminist credentials.

Lucy // Posted 20 March 2008 at 16:34

That sounds fantastic, the national cirriculum has definately left some gaping holes!! I was not once taught about consent or infact whether i could choose to or not to have sex. This is something i would love to contribute to.

Li // Posted 20 March 2008 at 18:28

http://www.scarleteen.com/ is aimed at teens, but I would recommend it for adults too. It goes way beyond what is taught at school. I think it's pretty fantastic.

Annie Mole // Posted 20 March 2008 at 20:59

I see you have Abby Lee in your resources, but I wasn't sure if you knew that she's become an ambassador to the young people's sexual health charity Brook - http://girlwithaonetrackmind.blogspot.com/2007/12/brook.html

Ask Brook is for adults up to the age of 25 so but might prove a useful resource https://ssl15.lon.gb.securedata.net/brook.org.uk/submission/brk_welcome.asp

Lynne Miles // Posted 20 March 2008 at 21:34

I was going to suggest Scarleteen too - it's fab.

This article in particular - "How You Guys - that's right, you GUYS - Can Prevent Rape"

"Those articles about rape prevention telling women all they can do to prevent rape? This isn't one of those articles. This one’s for the men"

Caitlin // Posted 20 March 2008 at 21:57

I was going to suggest Our Bodies Our Selves and Scarleteen too. Fab sites, and the book from OBOS is marvellous. I think a lot of it (if not all?) is covered on the site. It's a brilliant resource on female health generally too.

I love it, cos my mum read it and found it really useful when she was my age and has passed it on to me - it's like a kind of mybodybible :)

figleaf // Posted 20 March 2008 at 23:24

This post may totally break your spam filter, Jess, but if not here's a list of a bunch of recommended sex-ed websites from my just-completed college-level sex-ed course.

Go Ask Alice
http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/about.html
Go Ask Alice! is the health question and answer Internet service produced by Alice!, Columbia University's Health Education Program - a division of Health Services at Columbia.
This site has three primary features:
- New GAA! Q&As of the Week gives you the latest inquiries and responses - this section is updated every Friday.
- Search GAA! lets you find health information by subject via a search of the ever-growing Go Ask Alice! archives containing nearly 2,600 previously-posted questions and answers.
- Ask Alice! gives you the chance to ask Alice! a question.

Babeland
http://www.babeland.com

Disability and Sexuality
http://www.disabilityresources.org/SEX.html

Equality Now website
http://www.equalitynow.org/english/navigation/hub_en.html
Equality Now was founded in 1992 to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women around the world. Working with national human rights organizations and individual activists, Equality Now documents violence and discrimination against women and adds an international action overlay to support their efforts to advance equality rights and defend individual women who are suffering abuse.

The Gottman Institute
http://www.gottman.com/
Right here in Seattle we have one of the best relationship researchers in the country. The Gottman Institute is committed to helping couples using techniques built on substantial, reliable and valid research with couples. In addition, they hold useful workshops and train therapists.

The Guide to Getting It On
http://www.goofyfootpress.com/
Here is the link for a very frank, amusing and completely useful sex guide, check it out.

Guttmacher Institute
http://www.guttmacher.org/index.html
The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) is a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and public education.

SEX EDUCATION: WHAT PEOPLE THINK
http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/pomr012904oth.cfm
A new project by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University's Kennedy School examines Americans' views on sex education in the nations public schools.

Sexual Harassment: It's not academic.
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ocrshpam.html

The Wet Spot
http://www.wetspot.org/
A sex positive community center in Seattle.

Go Ask Alice
http://www.goaskalice.columbia.edu/about.html
Go Ask Alice! is the health question and answer Internet service produced by Alice!, Columbia University's Health Education Program - a division of Health Services at Columbia.
This site has three primary features:
- New GAA! Q&As of the Week gives you the latest inquiries and responses - this section is updated every Friday.
- Search GAA! lets you find health information by subject via a search of the ever-growing Go Ask Alice! archives containing nearly 2,600 previously-posted questions and answers.
- Ask Alice! gives you the chance to ask Alice! a question.

Babeland
http://www.babeland.com

Disability and Sexuality
http://www.disabilityresources.org/SEX.html

Equality Now website
http://www.equalitynow.org/english/navigation/hub_en.html
Equality Now was founded in 1992 to work for the protection and promotion of the human rights of women around the world. Working with national human rights organizations and individual activists, Equality Now documents violence and discrimination against women and adds an international action overlay to support their efforts to advance equality rights and defend individual women who are suffering abuse.

The Gottman Institute
http://www.gottman.com/
Right here in Seattle we have one of the best relationship researchers in the country. The Gottman Institute is committed to helping couples using techniques built on substantial, reliable and valid research with couples. In addition, they hold useful workshops and train therapists.

The Guide to Getting It On
http://www.goofyfootpress.com/
Here is the link for a very frank, amusing and completely useful sex guide, check it out.

Guttmacher Institute
http://www.guttmacher.org/index.html
The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI) is a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, policy analysis and public education.

SEX EDUCATION: WHAT PEOPLE THINK
http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/pomr012904oth.cfm
A new project by National Public Radio, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University's Kennedy School examines Americans' views on sex education in the nations public schools.

Sexual Harassment: It's not academic.
http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/ocrshpam.html

The Wet Spot
http://www.wetspot.org/
A sex positive community center in Seattle.

Take care,

figleaf

Matthew // Posted 21 March 2008 at 05:37

One site I am aware of is called Caitlain's Corner (www.caitlainscorner.com). It, too, is aimed at teens, but has a LOT of information about sexuality in general that is really useful.

Lady S // Posted 21 March 2008 at 16:24

There is also http://www.the-clitoris.com/

Which I found really useful many years ago. It covers a lot of topics and is, obviously, female-centred.

figleaf // Posted 22 March 2008 at 01:40

Oh, another good choice, though a bit pricy, would be the college-level sex-ed textbook used in my course. It's a bit U.S.-centric -- for instance it's called "Human Sexuality: Diversity in Contemporary America," but I think really only a bit. It's published by textbook publisher McGraw Hill's HIgher Education group and written by Bryan Strong, Christine DeVault, Barbara W. Sayad, and William L. Yarber.

I specifically recommend the book (the version I used was the 5th edition, there's evidently now a 6th) because it covers a ton of sub-topics that people maybe don't consider when thinking about sex *as adults.* Things like media portrayals of sexuality, sex advice columnists as maybe more entertainment than informative, constructing gender roles, different kinds of love and attraction, communication skills *inside* relationships and not just while forming them, reproduction and not just trying to prevent it, body image stuff, sexual dissatisfaction as opposed to dysfunction (a big deal that needs a lot more attention), and some nice (though possibly country-specific) information about sexual harassment, and (again somewhat country-specific) information about commercial aspects of sex like prostitution and porn.

In particular, though, the text is very thorough, didn't seem either as clueless or bland as many textbooks get (though there are still a few clueless areas), and it's all pretty free of *intentional* editorial judgment (though I'm sure some judgments of some sort leaks out somewhere.)

It's very possible other college-level texts are just as good and I really recommend taking a look. I recommend this one only because I've read a great deal of it last quarter.

figleaf

Kathy // Posted 22 March 2008 at 17:23

http://community.livejournal.com/vaginapagina/ is a LiveJournal community dedicated to anything related to sex and sexual health, from serious to trivial. Past posts are organised by subject, and it's easy to navigate. It also highlights the shortcomings of school sex-ed, and there are many instances of distressed teenagers being reassured that not looking like a porn star is perfectly healthy and normal.

Heather // Posted 22 March 2008 at 19:50

Okay, Jess, you emailed and asked, so I've got a lot of resources over here for you (obviously). I'll start with some of what I think are cornerstone books that I haven't seen listed here yet (and thanks to those who listed my own work!), then try and round out some web resources that haven't been covered here yet in a few days.

* All of Shere Hite's books, to start with. That's The Hite Report on the Family: Growing Up Under Patriarchy, The Hite Report on Female Sexuality and The Hite Report on Male Sexuality.
* Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier (this is one of those for me which every woman simply must read)
* Joani Blank's Femalia
* Audre Lorde's essay, The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power
* Inga Muscio's Cunt
* The Planned Parenthood Women’s Health Encyclopedia
* The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex
* The Clitourist by Karen Salmansohn (basic, but BRILLIANTLY illustrated and loads of fun while being spot-on)
* Betty Dodson's Sex for One and Orgasms for Two
* Felice Newman's The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide for All of Us
* Cory Silverberg, Miriam Kaufman, and Fran Odette, The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain and Illness
* Deborah Sundahl, Female Ejaculation and the G-Spot
* Rachel Venning and Claire Cavannah's Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide
* Cathy Winks and Anne Semans' The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex (Anne and Cathy also have a great book about sex for pregnant women and mothers)
* Staci Haines'The Survivor’s Guide to Sex: How to Have an Empowered Sex Life After Child Sexual Abuse
* The Science of Orgasm by Komisaruk, Barry R., Beyer-Flores, Carlos and Whipple, Beverly
* Foucault's History of Sexuality series
* Jack Morin's The Erotic Mind
* Riane Eisler's books (on Sacred Sexuality and Pleasure)
* All of Susie Bright's work
* Pomosexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality by Carol Queen and Lawrence Schimel
* Martha Cornog, The Big Book of Masturbation: From Angst to Zeal
* Eve Ensler's The Good Body
* Maggie Paley's The Book of the Penis
* Is It a Date or Just Coffee?: The Gay Girl's Guide to Dating, Sex, and Romance by Mo Brownsey (that one is comedic, but it always cheered me up when dyke dating got me down)
* Anne Fausto-Sterling's books: Myths of Gender: Biological Theories About Women and Men and Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality
* Loraine Hutchins and Lani Kaahumanu, Bi Any Other Name: Bisexual People Speak Out
* The Bisexual Resource Guide by Robyn Ochs
* Hanne Blank's Big, Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love Them and Virgin: the Untouched History

I've left out some typical sex books which I think are otherwise good, but generally find to be either heterosexist, heteronormative or just not particularly feminist or women-centered by my standards.

(I'm presuming you want more sex than sexual health, but if I'm incorrect in that assumption and you want sexual health information as well, just holler.)

Virago // Posted 23 March 2008 at 13:52

Thanks to this post I've been inspired to get my new blog 'Liberated Libido' up and running, it only has two posts so far (both about oral sex) but I'll be expanding it to cover all sorts in the coming weeks and months. It's intended as a sex-positive feminist adult sex ed. resource and I encourage people to post comments with their sex tips and questions to expand the information available to readers.

Apologies for the shameless self promotion but I hope it'll soon be a relevant resource to point people to.

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