Frankly if you like your sexual self-help replete with pencil drawings of bearded blokes and their female partners trying to get pretzel-like in search of “better sex” this book is a bit rubbish. I can see from the back-cover author snap that Justin has a beard but that’s as far as it goes. By contrast what Enjoy Sex… gives us is powerful tool for exploring what is might mean for us as human beings to explore intimacy with both others and ourselves.
Visitors to this blog will already know that I’m a bit of a Meg-John fan boy! As well as writing this review for their recent graphic non-fiction book Queer (in collaboration with the brilliant Julia Scheele). I also wrote a review several years ago for their first relationship opus Rewriting the Rules. In that book Meg-John sought to challenge us to consider the societal stories and familial conditioning that we might have received concerning intimacy, gender and friendship. In a compassionate and accessible manner they asked us to honestly explore what we really wanted for ourselves and those to whom we are connected.
In many ways Enjoy Sex… feels like an organic expansion of this previous work. We find chapters looking at the messages we receive about sex and how the sex advice industry often compounds powerful ideas about perfection, performance and a penis in vagina (PIV) end game. This is a book that beautifully inverts the presumed heteronormativity of most sex advice and openly revels in diversity. Each chapter incorporates multiple voices of people exploring intimacy and I loved the richness and complexity that these added to the themes under consideration.
Both of these authors bring their considerable wealth of experience as educators and activists to the format of this work. Justin has worked for over two decades in providing meaningful sex education to young people and Meg-John is renowned as a lucid communicator and advocate for sexual and gender diversity. This book is accessible without dumbing down and provides a whole host of exercises and activities for helping the reader dig into their own reflections and explorations.
This is a book that places self-understanding and consent at its centre. In order to access the type of intimacy that we may or may not want with others, we must first reconnect to our own bodies and the stories that our culture and experience have passed to us. In order to act compassionately and consensually towards others we must first exercise proper self-care in understanding what we value for our selves in this present moment. This is a book that seeks to move mindfulness from the meditation cushion and into the realm of our whole lives. In contrast to so much touted as “spiritual” sex, the erotic realities of solo sex, porn and consensual non-monogamies are explored as possible means for more fully “knowing thyself”.
In a world where the tyranny of performance and perfection threaten to disconnect ourselves from truly engaging with deep sensuality, Justin and Meg-John have provided us with an accessible tool-kit for tuning in to our own unique version of the erotic. A truly liberating work!