While the pieces in this anthology will not make you hot in the erotic sense, they will most surely raise your temperature in the political and social sense. These seventeen pieces written by some of the most famous and not-so-famous names in the world of sex and sexuality, reflect a variety of standpoints with one main theme connecting them all. Regardless of the writer, all pieces are permeated with a sex-positive perspective that emboldens the reader to look outside the box of mainstream media.
One does not have to read the bylines to know that these writers are talented and could write competently about sex even before this publication. They range in specialty and area of interest significantly, but all provide a fantastically focused snapshot of some aspect of human sexuality. They place sex into a wide assortment of contexts including politics, culture, film, literature, sociology, and law. It becomes evident within the first few pieces that the writers come from a wide sexual background that often adds color to their writing.
Renowned (or infamous, depending on your point of view) sexpert Susie Bright strips bare the standards of the romance genre to consider how different it is from pornography or erotica. Sex activist Tristan Taornimo waxes poetics about sex education, public sex, casting calls for a XXX reality show, the ins and outs of anal sex, and the first double-transsexual pornographic film made. Natalie Y. Moore and Natalie Hopkinson provide an interesting consideration into the nature of black female strippers and family structure, while Emily DePrang illustrates the tricky world of sexual harassment policy and being a lesbian. Eli Sander’s commentary on criticism and legal persecution for BDSM (Bondage, Discipline, Domination, Submission, Sadism, and Masochism) websites contrasts U.S. troop actions in places like Abu Gharib.
While the merit of each individual piece cannot be refuted, the editorial choices overall cannot escape scrutiny. Newman and Delacoste do include a fair range of topics from across the spectrum but sometimes focus too closely on smaller sexual issues and neglect larger (and repeatedly ignored) problems. Maybe no one wrote about older people and sex in 2005 (the year all the articles are from), or maybe those articles did not meet the “Best Sex Writing” standards. However, there remains a gap in their choices: the elderly. Not just the elderly but all people over fifty are repeatedly ignored in terms of sex and sexuality, unless the conversation turns to Viagra and other sex pills for “sexual dysfunction.” Doesn’t it speak wonders that the only time sex and older people are brought together is to dispel the idea that their sexuality still works properly? For all the anti-mainstream angles that these editors attempt to present, they too fall prey by excluding this group.
Despite this critique, Best Sex Writing 2006 does have some powerful and intriguing pieces to it. Regardless of one’s sexual knowledge base, this book will certainly broaden it on a variety of sexual topics.