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Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of Today's Sexual Culture Paperback – January 10, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"Thoughtful, funny, and sometimes insightful journalism and personal essays on topics ranging from a defense of circumcision to the activist 'slut walks' to more personal essays on being gay in the military and dating with an STD."

"A sharp, snappy collection, and it has enough talking points to keep you engaged and enraged for a year. These essays are funny, heart-breaking, head-scratching and honest. They’re well-written and have lovely moments of poetry and concise, bone-cutting prose. They’re varied and unique, but unified in their vision for a world with better sex, and better ways to write and talk about sex. Best Sex Writing 2012 is a step in the right direction."
—XOXO Amore

"Best Sex Writing 2012, a fascinating and inspiring book that brings together various articles and essays on the topic of sex and sexuality. They run the gamut from prostitution to circumcision and come from a variety of mediums and authors."
—Where is Your Line? blog

"This book highlights not only the diversity of sexual issues prevalent in the public discourse but likewise the importance of all things sexual to human culture… Readers interested in sexuality and its role in politics and culture will find something of interest in this eclectic volume. A great opportunity to discover new voices, new sources, and new information on the subject of sex."
—Library Journal

"The most alluring and insightful work on the seemingly limitless topic of sex for the always rewarding Best Sex Writing series. Put on your slutty-librarian reading glasses and open up the enticing anthology…"
—SF Bay Guardian

"The articles and essays [in BEST SEX WRITING] cover a wide range of topics, and there's something in the book for everyone. Even if you look at the table of contents and think, 'Wow, I'm not sure I really want to read about that,' you might be surprised that you're not only reading it, but nodding along in agreement."
—Writing Sex, the blog of Cecilia Duvalle

"The vast variety was what struck me the greatest as I made my way through this riveting collection. It took me longer to read than I had anticipated, perhaps because it was sometimes almost jarring to jump from one piece that had me giggling aloud to another that enraged me almost to the point of tears."
—Kiki DeLovely

"The writing is honest, challenging, and exciting. There was a piece that really pissed me off and plenty of pieces that got me thinking."
—Annabeth Leong

"The subject mix is wonderful, and all stories are extremely well written. This book does not disappoint. It is not the typical erotica book Rachel is known to edit, and meant to arouse. It is an important read, one I highly recommend."
—The Erotic Literary Salon

"The greatest strength of Best Sex Writing 2012 is its eclectic collection of writing from all corners of the genre. This anthology has a taste of almost every conceivable angle on sex."
—Sex Positive Activism

"I’m impressed. Not all of the articles appealed to me – I even disliked a couple of them, but every one of them inspired thought. Every voice had something provocative to say in the realm of sexuality. This is not erotica. These pieces are brilliant reporting, touching memoirs, and humorous expositions. This book engaged my brain – sometimes my heart, and occasionally my libido."
—My Whole Sex Life

"Sex meets academia when editor Rachel Kramer Bussel and judge Susie Bright present the year’s most provocative nonfiction articles on sex from sources including The Village Voice, Salon.com, and Playboy...Reading the essays will get you thinking, but Bussel hopes they will also get you writing, noting in her forward that, she hopes the book will "Inspire you to write and tell your own sexual story, because I believe the more we talk about the many ways sex moves us, the more we work toward a world where sexual shame, ignorance, homophobia, and violence are diminished."
—The Edge

"Best Sex Writing 2012: The State of today's Sexual Culture is an eclectic variety of nonfiction articles on human sexuality, written by a diverse assembly of journalists. Sex columnist Rachel Kramer Bussel and guest judge Susie Bright have worked together to compile the best of the best news stories and measured opinion pieces. Individual stories include "Sex, Lies, and Hush Money" about sexual political scandals; "Atheists Do It Better" which has an intriguing take on faith versus pleasure; "Criminalizing Circumcision: Self-Hatred as Public Policy" which sharply questions legislative efforts to ban the circumcision of males under the age of 18; and "You Can Have Sex With Them; Just Don't Photograph Them" about the case of a police officer who had a completely legal, consensual sexual relationship with sixteen-year-old girls (the state's age of consent) but was sentenced to over a decade of prison time due to erotic photos of the girls, which they had produced voluntarily, in his possession - mandatory minimum sentencing laws tied the hands of the judge trying his case. Sober, serious, and thought-provoking even when dealing with the most inflammatory of human issues, Best Sex Writing 2012 lives up to its title and is worthy of the highest recommendation."
—Midwest Book Review

"This book is the best-of-the-best write up about sex and is a great book for anyone with who wants to put their finger on the pulse of Sex in America."
—Kissin Blue Karen

"The essays here comprise a detailed, direct survey of the contemporary American sexual landscape...Major commentators examine the many roles sex plays in our lives in these literate and lively essays."
—Erotic Readers and Writers Association

Best Sex Writing 2012, edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel with writing selected by Susie Bright lives up to its subtitle: “The State of Today’s Sexual Culture.” I was impressed by the range of voices in it. Standouts in the collection include Bright’s funny missive on Ross Douthat, “Why Lying About Monogamy Matters” and entertaining stories about sexual escapades by both Adrian Colesberry (the footnotes are great) and Lidia Yuknavitch. There are straightforward stories about a lesbian exploring BDSM at a gay male club, fat admirers and the real life of a call girl. Bussel adds a clear-sighted note that people should not be ashamed to send each other sexts as long as they are consensual adults"
—Single and Loving It Blog

From the Back Cover

Stimulate Your Largest Sex Organ: Your Brain

Face it, you think about sex every day. We all do. In Best Sex Writing 2012, sex columnist Rachel Kramer Bussel and guest judge Susie Bright collect the most stimulating and intelligent work on this endlessly provocative subject. Find out what's behind the latest political sex scandals in "Sex, Lies, and Hush Money." Learn how "Atheists Do It Better," and "Why Lying About Monogamy Matters." From an insider look at gay witch hunts in the pre-DADT Navy, and an impassioned defense of circumcision, to a dating site for people with STDs, nuanced explorations of teen sex laws, sex at 66, SlutWalks, female orgasm workshops, and more, Best Sex Writing 2012 explores the smarter side of sexuality.

Product Details

  • Series: Best Sex Writing
  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Cleis Press (January 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573447595
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573447591
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 5.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,488,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
If I were allowed to retitle this book, I would call it "Best Sex Writing 2012: Essays for People Who Don't Read Everything on the Internet About Sexual Culture." Spoiler: I read Everything on the Internet.

I appreciate seeing authors I know and admire, who frequently publish online (or at least, that's where I read them), anthologized in this dead tree way. It lends a sense of permanence to the conversations that happened about sexual culture over the past year, which is a good thing.

However, as a Reader of the Internet, I know that many of these essays were part of much larger conversations, conversations which are pretty impossible to capture between two covers, on pages without hotlinks. I love books, but representing the best sex writing in this way feels flat to me. The best and worst parts of the state of today's sexual culture is that it plays out complexly, through links and online bitchery and critique, and that just wasn't happening here. For example: an essay about SlutWalk without a lot of dialogue, quotes, and argument with other sources of thought and rage is just not right-sized.

That said, the book is worth picking up for the pieces by Joan Price, Amber Dawn, and Lydia Yuknavitch, which are shiveringly good and make my skin tingle with sadness.

Thomas Roche and Tracy Quan's pieces on sex work totally have my heart. However, I was not so impressed with Marty Klein's piece on circumcision (thesis: getting cut is no big deal!) and the lack of regard for the concepts of consent and bodily autonomy, and Rachel Rabbit White's piece about trans latinas was a mess, mixing the LGB with the T in a bad and clunky way.
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Format: Paperback
I tend to read collections such as this in a non-linear format, thumbing through the book until something catches my eye. Well, every piece featured in this book edited by Rachel Kramer Bussell and selected by Susie Bright has its own eye-catching hook. My empathy was aroused reading Amber Dawn's butch/femme memoir in "To All The Butches I Loved Between 1995 and 2005: An Open Letter about Selling Sex, Selling Out, and Soldiering On," realizing that I have heard similar regrets from vanilla, straight folk. The cold terror of a pre-Don't Ask, Don't Tell Navy was made clear in "An Unfortunate Discharge Early in my Naval Career" by Tim Elhajj - which just makes me even more glad for DADT's repeal. There are humorous pieces as well: Love Grenade by Lidia Yuknavitch made me laugh at its sheer honesty and ebuillience about young lesbian road trips, Adrian's Penis: Care and Handling by Adrian Colesberry was gentle and sweet and funny in a sympathetic manner. There are topical pieces, explications of complex subjects like elder sex and child pornography and writings of slices of life in the Latina Drag community and the New York Meat Packing District gay leather community.

I enjoyed reading the work of so many curated for my attention and I am now left wishing it were 2012 and I could start to read the best of 2013.
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Format: Paperback
I could not get enough of this book: exceptional writing, intimate conversations, and mind-expanding viewpoints on familiar controversial topics. A lot of sex scandals break all the time ... we're used to them by now. But these stories explain how the emotional hype and judgment over sex scandals keeps everyone from exploring sexuality safely and pleasurably. And in between serious stories about political cover-ups, careless and criminal language used in reporting, and criminalizing teen sexuality, there are stories that make you laugh, smile, feel sexy and dream about how great sex can be. Adrian Colesberry's piece is NOT to be missed. And "Love Grenade" by Lidia Yuknavitch was probably the hottest story I've read all year.

This anthology opens the door for more honest discussions around sexuality -- if we could talk more about the emotions, laws & the gray areas of sexuality, it wouldn't be so easy to judge & criminalize any part of sex that scares people.
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Format: Paperback
Rachel Kramer Bussel gauges hot blood with the accuracy of a thermometer. She's edited more sexy anthologies than almost anyone in the erotic literary scene. And she proves herself a true queen of the sexual word with her non-fiction effort - a smart collaboration with famed erotic author and "sex politician" Susie Bright. Bright chose the journalistic stories collected in the volume and penned a laugh out loud introduction that helps set the tone of the book. "Best Sex Writing 2012" counts as a marker in the world's sexual evolution, indicating the flavor and tempo of the planet's lustful ambitions at this particular point in history. Containing a number of non-fiction stories, some humorous, some sad, many sexy, the book ramps up society's sexual discourse to a new level, beginning with Amanda Marcotte's take on the SlutWalk and ending with Kevin Sampsell's hilarious "Pottymouth," the collection covers everything from transgender latinas, political sex scandals, religion and sex, dating with STDs and much more. I thought it would take me at least a week, with a rum and Coke in hand, to read the book. Instead it took only two nights. Lots of hot fun here.
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