3 min

Getting better in bed

The low down on lesbian going-down

Is there a better way to start the new year than with a new sex manual? It beats a hangover and it’s way more fun than investing in a gym membership that gets used for a month at most.

Forget about quitting smoking or giving up chocolate for the sake of 10 pounds. Why not make a resolution that requires indulgence and perhaps excess, and commit yourself to sexual self-improvement?

Felice Newman has written the latest entry on a very short list of lesbian how-to books (which includes Joann Loulan’s Lesbian Sex from 1984 and Pat Califia’s Sapphistry, first published in ’79 and revised in ’83). It’s not that the ’90s weren’t full of sex books for queer girls. It’s just that they seemed to cater to specific tastes, such as The Ultimate Guide To Anal Sex For Women or A Hand In The Bush: The Art Of Vaginal Fisting.

And of course, there’s been a proliferation of anthologies featuring lesbian vampires, leather daddies, disabled lesbians, Jewish dykes, fat lesbians, riot grrrls, black lesbians, lesbians who sleep with men, lesbians who don’t sleep with men and just about any other flavour.

Or for the higher-minded among us, there have been books that theorize about sex and sexuality for lesbians, transexuals, the transgendered, bisexuals, celibate women and polyamorous women. And let’s not leave out good old fashioned butch/femme adherents.

The Whole Lesbian Sex Book aims to fill the void with a perky, upbeat and spunky guide to the finer points of girl-on-girl action. Newman strikes a perfect balance of the breezy, anecdotal tone of self-help, with the earnestly factual approach of a professional. As part of her research, Newman posted a questionnaire on a website and she incorporates comments from the respondents throughout the book, which adds a great informal touch. The book is also full of lists and charts and of course, a few diagrams – some serious and some purely hilarious.

What Newman is striving for here is a mix of the truly explicit how-to – with sections called “How To Suck (Detachable) Cock,” and “How-to’s Of Genital Shaving” – with more general information about where to meet girls and how to seduce them when you’ve found them. There is tons of information on STDs and how to avoid them, a section on sex and depression and advice about sex during pregnancy.

Newman also covers some difficult issues around sexual orientation and gender with a refreshing simplicity. Her approach won’t take the edge off any debate about who’s entitled to attend the Michigan Women’s Music Festival. But anyone who reminds readers to “state your preferences without apology – but remember, yours is a preference, not a moral position,” gets my vote.

The book lives up to its claim to be for all of us because there’s something for everyone, from novice to expert. Whether you’re looking for a few basic pointers on cunnilingus, or looking for a way to add more finesse to your strap-on technique, or you’re trying to figure out how to tell your girlfriend that you want her to tie you up, you’ll find more than a few ideas here.

If you’re feeling a little short on fantasies of your own, there’s always the option of borrowing from somebody else. There are 69-plus ideas in Hot And Bothered 2.

The idea behind the Hot And Bothered anthologies is a good one. After all, how important is the plot in a sex story? Or perhaps the question is, how many variations on a theme can there be? Is there a difference between fucking a stranger in the laundry room or on an airplane? Or meeting at the flower market versus flirting with the woman in the Fedex uniform? For some, the thrill is in the details, and for others all it takes is the barest of suggestions.

Some things in this second instalment of short, short fiction will appeal and some inevitably will not. But after reading The Whole Lesbian Sex Book, no judgments will be made about what appeals and to


Hot And Bothered 2: Short Short Fiction On Lesbian Desire.

Edited by Karen X Tulchinsky.

Arsenal Pulp Press.

249 pages. $17.95.

The Whole Lesbian Sex Book: A Passionate Guide For All Of Us.

By Felice Newman.

Cleis Press.

292 pages. $34.