Sex for Fun

On the politics of control and why people are so bothered by female sexual pleasure

Elizabeth Spiers

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Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

I am not a child psychologist, but being the mother of a precocious seven year old has taught me one immutable fact about children: it’s axiomatic that the child with the most forbidden knowledge will inevitably distribute it to all of their classmates. I remember this from my own childhood because this is more or less how I learned about sex, from the time a local minister’s daughter taught me what “the f-word” meant in second grade, to more granular descriptions of technique all the way through high school.

I did not learn about it from traditional sex ed, or even my parents. When my best friend started menstruating at the age of ten, my mom handed me a book about mating hamsters and asked if I had any questions, and that was that. This was not unusual in the part of conservative rural Alabama where I grew up, or in the largely Southern Baptist community we inhabited. Sex was discussed primarily as an activity that was only appropriate in the context of pro-creation, within the confines of a heterosexual marriage. Sexual education consisted solely of abstinence programs (which of course resulted in higher-than-the-national-average rates of teen preganancy). And never was it acknowledged that having sex solely because it was enjoyable was healthy and…

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Elizabeth Spiers

Writer, NYU j-school prof, political commentator, digital strategist, ex-editor in chief of The New York Observer, founding editor of Gawker