Thursday, February 19, 2009

Reclaiming the joy

Sorry to revisit a topic I was going on about only a few weeks ago... but if there is one thing that I really "got" when I was rewriting Joy of Sex, it is that while sex may be the same as it was in 1972, the joy certainly isn't. Given the drip feed of horror stories in the press and the continuous warnings about the dangers of sex from all sides, we've somehow lost our optimism, our innocence - somehow, we've flushed the joy baby out with the bathwater.Link
Don't misunderstand. I'm not advocating condom-free orgies or emotion-free lust-fests. I'm as aware - and as vociferous - as anyone about just what we all need to do is order to make sex safe, sane, concensual and super-enjoyable. But I do feel that we've forgotten that sex is a Good Thing.

Which is why I was delighted to be invited to speak at a ground-breaking new conference in Devon yesterday. Run by the Eddystone Trust (with backing from the thinking person's condom-maker Durex) the training was packed with all sorts of fascinating folk from the world of South West sexual health. We had a great presentation on making older-age sex good, a fascinating interactive workshop on young people and risk taking, and an equally fascinating one on communication. Apparently one of the feedback forms said that it was 'the best workshop' the delegate had ever attended.

My contribution was to set a framework on just why we can get so negative - because of the above mentioned media panic and also, rightly, because of our need to protect ourselves (and particularly our young people) from the very real dangers of sex. I also made the point that sometimes being sex negative comes right from the heart of our own lives. If we love sex, we don't want others to spoil that by being irresponsible... if we've been disappointed in sex, we want to warn others of the dangers. It's all very understandable.

But I stil think it needs a rebalance. I still think we need to recontact the fact that, when safely and lovingly done, sex is one of the most wonderful things in the world. Lose the statistics, let's reclaim the emotion. Lose the cynicism, let's reclaim the joy...

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Yet More Joy

So just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water... they publish two more books in the Joy of Sex series.

In other words, though I've batting on for months now about the original book, what I didn't stress was that it isn't just a book, it's a whole brand. And this week the next two books in the brand hit the UK shelves (US readers, sadly, have to wait until May to get their hands on them).

The Romantic Lover. The Adventurous Lover. Not to descend into back-cover blurb, but they're both small-and-perfectly-formed hard-backed pocket books, illustrated with more of the great Joy of Sex photos - though the text is entirely new.

Both do what they say on the tin. The Romantic Lover majors on all things pink and loving with sections on massage, foreplay and simultaneous orgasm (yes, it is possible!). The Adventurous Lover ventures into more exotic territory, with sections on anal, bondage and swinging. I can't claim to have tried in full everything I wrote about, but I have talked - in detail - to those who have. :)

So onward and upward. Next stop - later in the year - the Long Weekend Lover. And if anyone out there has any special requests for more titles, we have a long publishing list to go. All ideas gratefully accepted!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Joy coming home to roost...

I've spent, in my role as Joy of Sex spokeswoman, the last six months talking about sex - to journalists, TV presenters, radio hosts. And the one thing they always ask me is how things have changed since the book was first published 37 years ago. Typically I list the scientific changes, the rise of the Internet... and eventually come round to the fact that in 1972 there was an atmosphere - how can I put this - of naive optimism.

The orignal book reflected those times, those heady, postpill, sexual-revolution times when (to paraphrase Alex Comfort) a sexually transmitted infection was seen as slightly less problematic than a dose of flue, and infidelity was seen as par for the course.We look back now and wince...

And wincing is very much on the menu this week as reports come through of a sharp rise in sexual cancers in the wake of said revolution. The study, from King's College London, points out that the rate of cancers triggered by the HPV virus have rocketted since the Swinging Sixties and Seventies. And we all know why.

I was there - and contrary to the cliche, I remember it! Thank heaven I was informed and sensible enough to keep my sexual contacts safe and loving - but that wasn't the norm. We genuinely thought that if we were on the pill we were safe from all harm - and that meant we could play without protection. And it is deeply sad that we are now paying the price for our ignorance.

But let's remember that it was ignorance - and let's steer clear of the moralising about those times that is already appearing in the popular press. Please don't blame us. We weren't evil, we weren't immoral, we didnt' set out to have orgies. We were young and hormonally fuelled - and most importantly we just didn't know how dangerous it could be to have sex.

Now society knows, and is much more wary (though interestingly of course, it is this very generation that still doesn't quite realise that they are in danger - the 40+ cohort is currently the one where STI rates are rising highest.) And that in itself is sad.

Because, for all the illness, all the abuse, all the unhappiness that unconsidered sex can cause. we still need to remember that - safely and happily done - sex is wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!