Author of the Sex Diaries Project (and Bitch Media board member!) Arianne Cohen wants to read about your sex life. Well, more specifically, she wants to read about all of our sex lives, to learn more about what’s possible in sex and relationships.
If you’re interested in keeping a seven-day Sex Diary, visit the Sex Diaries Project here (be sure to click on the link from here so that Arianne knows who’s coming from the Bitch site)! We’ll also post an anonymous Sex Diary here on the Bitch blogs every Tuesday in March (Arianne won’t run any diaries without explicit permission from the diarist and will change all identifying details), so even if you’d rather not keep a diary you can still participate.
We asked Arianne a few questions about the Sex Diaries Project for you to read before you get started. If you have more questions for her be sure to leave them in the comments!
What guidelines do you give people who are writing these diaries?
Just tell the truth! The instructions inside the program are pretty extensive, and there’s also a FAQ page.
When people write a diary, what is your process to break down and analyze the information?
The analyzing actually came about by necessity—originally, I just published diaries as a column, with no commentary. But I began to notice trends that I just couldn’t ignore. For example, the book talks quite a bit about the three different types of couples, each with their own goals, pros, and cons. That discovery came about first when I saw a consistent pattern—that some couples seemed to be very different from others—and then I sorted the diaries to see if I could organize couples in any way that was meaningful, using basic qualitative coding that I learned in college. That took months, and at one point I had six categories of couples. I eventually defined the three categories, and for the next bunch of weeks, honed those categories each time I read a new diary. Then I put it into words, and wrote up exactly what I noticed.
Based on feedback you’ve received, what do people get out of writing these diaries? Out of reading them?
People come to the website for voyeurism, and they stay for self-discovery. I think we all have a narrative (or three) in our head: “I’m super sexy and everyone wants to sleep with me” or “I’m going to be alone forever” or what have you. And what many diarists find is that when they read back over their first couple days of diarying, that narrative is very different from what they’re seeing.
Who have you found to be most eager to write a diary? What kind of backgrounds do they have and what kinds of relationships are they in?
The people who spend the most time in the project are those with the time and inclination, who are often college students and women ages 25-29. This said, when men or other demographics hear about the project and think it’ll be useful to them, they come right in.
Have there been certain demographics of people that you wish you heard more from?
I wish I heard more from lesbians. At least once a week I get emails from lesbians asking for more lesbian diaries on the website. To which I respond: Come on ladies! Keep a diary!
Yes, you heard it here: Lesbians are both private, and incredibly curious about other lesbians’ diaries.
Are you more or less interested in sex after reading 1500+ diaries?
More. It’s a primary way that we connect and disconnect from each other, and also such a great summary of how people behave in the world. People really do behave in the bedroom and their relationships just as they behave in life.
What’s your ultimate goal with this project?
World domination! I kid. I’m building the project into a hub where people can come to read, write, or talk about diaries, all anonymously, on their own terms.
Is there anything you feel like it’s important for our readers to know?
I get a lot of questions about anonymity. The registration page asks for real first and last names because they’re needed to give legal consent. But the diaries are stored in a separate database. And to be absolutely honest: at this point, there’s so many that I don’t even notice who’s who anymore, even when I do know them in real life!
To keep your own diary and read some excerpts from the project, visit the Sex Diaries Project website.