Old-Fashioned Sex Manuals and Your Sex Life

A handshake in a scene from handshakes and consent video

A recent survey indicates that nearly half of all people experience some sort of sexual difficulty. It’s really no wonder we still deal with bad communication around sex and sexuality, says Meg-John Barker in Quartzy. “When the panic around the messages young people receive about sex so often focuses on sexually explicit material, it’s about time we turned our attention to the insidious and disturbing messages that people are receiving from materials which are supposedly designed to educate, inform, and advise about sex.” She lists the top five problems with most sex advice.

  1. A set script for “proper” sex.
  2. The idea that not all bodies are sexy.
  3. Little consideration of how society may constrain our sexuality.
  4. Failure to define and examine “pleasure.”
  5. Failure to discuss consent.

She adds, “Especially in this moment of #MeToo, and greater awareness of intersecting systems of privilege and oppression, it’s most concerning how few texts even mention consent, and how many assume that sex equates to penis-in-vagina intercourse, often depicted by endless images of young, white, slim, non-disabled, normative male/female couples.”

Consent is crucial. As Crowley himself said: ‘The Beast 666 ordains by His authority that every man, and every woman, and every intermediately-sexed individual, shall be absolutely free to interpret and communicate Self by means of any sexual practices soever, whether direct or indirect, rational or symbolic, physiologically, legally, ethically, or religiously approved or no, provided only that all parties to any act are fully aware of all implications and responsibilities thereof, and heartily agree thereto.”

Want to learn more?

Sex Manuals Still Push These Five Shockingly Old-Fashioned Ideas

Five problematic sex messages perpetuated by advice manuals

See Meg-John Barker’s new book with Rosalind Gill and Laura Harvey, Mediated Intimacy: Sex Advice in Media Culture, and enjoy the videos below.


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