I’ve looked through all the sex guides that I’ve dealt with over the years and this one stands head and shoulders above the others.
Your last choice is a sex manual called Guide to Getting it On by Paul Joannides.
This is the only real sex guide that I’ve chosen. And the reason I like it is that it’s funny, it’s completely accurate, it’s not trite or cute, but upfront in what it says – and I would challenge anybody to read it and not learn something. It’s like having your older brother, or good friend who knew what they were talking about, speak directly to you. It has no hang-ups about anything, it has no biases, no prejudices, no phobias of any sort. It’s just a really clear statement about everything that is good about sexual health and sexual writing in 2009 (as opposed to 1928).
Looking at all your choices, they’re very much about cultural breakthroughs, the acceptance of sexuality as part of the mainstream life, the breaking of taboos. But right now, don’t we have almost the opposite problem: sex is everywhere?
Yes. We’re now living in a society that is arguably the most sexualized ever. This is not quite Sodom and Gomorrah, but given the internet, and increased communication, one can argue that, even though our sexuality is in some ways more sophisticated, this is the most sexualized society ever. And it causes all sorts of problems. We have children to protect, we have our own minds to protect and there are very few filters. You can find – as I found when I was researching The Joy of Sex – that if you have a sexual leaning or a sexual interest, you will be able to find something that caters to that, probably many thousands of websites. And so it’s particularly important to get honest, clear information. And accurate information. The web can be extremely inaccurate and pornography in particular can give us very, very wrong ideas about what sex is and what it should be. Because the other theme that runs through all my choices is that they are, if you like, best practice sex: sex that is honest, caring, not prudish – but at the same time has underlying values. Today we’re talking about books, but we need websites, we need source material that is giving us good sexual role models at a time when there are so many bad ones around.Read full interview
Susan Quilliam is a relationship psychologist and agony aunt, whose advice on sex and intimate relationships appears in many newspapers and magazines. She receives some 25,000 letters a year from people seeking her advice, has written 21 books on relationships and sexuality, and recently updated Alex Comfort’s 1970s sex classic, The Joy of Sex.