Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Let Jaclyn Friedman help you have sex

New book by American feminist explores sexuality and women's shame

Jaclyn Friedman says becoming comfortable with sex always involves risk. Credit: Promotional photo
American feminist, educator, activist and writer Jaclyn Friedman wants to know what you want sexually.
 
Inspired by the response from her first book, Yes Means Yes! Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, her latest endeavour, What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety, brings Friedman to Canada, specifically Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax.
 
“I kept hearing the same questions in different versions in different places where I was speaking,” Friedman says. “Always some version of someone asking about enthusiastic consent – ‘I don’t know what to say yes to. How do you know what you want to say yes to?’”
 
The answer isn’t easy. Media, religion and family all have different agendas for women’s sexuality.
 
Friedman wants to help readers discover what they want, what they really, really want. Her new workbook-style self-help book is an interactive companion to help women find what they desire.
 
“It’s a lot of trial and error. Getting comfortable with sexuality involves risk,” she says.
 
Friedman believes sexuality is a creative process. It takes time, thought, experimentation and exploration. Eventually, it unfolds.
 
Finalizing her book followed a similar process. She says she spent most of 2010 in front of a blank screen and blinking cursor “writing.”
 
Finally, the book came into fruition after Friedman rounded up 11 volunteers to read drafts as she wrote. The group met every Sunday via conference call.
 
“It was also a support group,” she says. “It was a really good boost from the group. I had no opportunity to procrastinate. They were volunteering their time and personal lives. After all this hard work, there was no way I was going to let them down. ”
 
Even though the title explicitly states the book is a girl’s guide, Friedman gears the narrative toward people of all genders and sexualities.
 
“My definition of woman and girl is broad. I’m no believer in the gender binary. I want the book to be as inclusive as possible. Two of the group of 11 readers are not currently female-identified.”
 
What You Really Really Want is a judgment-free read and a tool to help readers find what works and what doesn’t.
 
“Most people’s approach to women’s sexuality involves some kind of shame. One of the things all of the women had in common were they all felt like they were doing it wrong – sexuality,” she says. “It was an even split. There were women who felt like they were too sexual in some way and women who felt they weren’t sexual enough.
 
“They were so surprised to hear from each other they all felt shamed. It’s a perfect illustration of the current cultural climate. There is shame wherever you go.”
 
The Deets:
Jaclyn Friedman
 
Toronto
Thurs, Dec 1, 6:30pm

Toronto Women’s Bookstore
73 Harbord St
 
Ottawa
Sat, Dec 3 & Sun, Dec 4, 6:30pm

Venus Envy
320 Lisgar St
 
 
Halifax
Mon, Dec 5, 7pm

Dalhousie University
6299 South St