Many books about sex attempt to be discrete: they’re slim volumes with demure cover text that could easily be overlooked on your bookshelf. Or they’re sketchy how-to dating books that promise to tell you how to unlock the sexual secrets of people you date. Neither is the case with Girl Sex 101, a giant-sized, consent-focused sex-ed manual covered in bright colors and bold drawings. Sex educator Allison Moon and artist kd diamond funded the creation of the book geared toward “ladies and lady-lovers of all genders and identities” with a Kickstarter back in 2013. The finished 390-page collection of sexy fiction, comics, and level-headed how-to guides officially debuts this April 7. You can preorder the book right here.
Instead of going into detail about each of its many elements, it’s best to narrow down my thoughts to five things I liked about the book.
1. It begins with a quote from Bruce Lee.
If the vibrant cover didn’t tip you off to the fact that Girl Sex 101 is a different kind of sex-ed book, the very first page does the trick. I love that Allison Moon and kd diamond went outside of the typical realm of sex education to find a quote that frames the ideas of the whole book. There are lots of funny moments like this in the book, where I stopped and thought, “What an awesome choice.”
2. The first section of the book breaks down gender.
Girl Sex 101 starts out with the basics: several pages of definitions. The “Become a Cunning Linguist” section explains sexual lingo that I would have been glad to know as a teen—it’s certainly a better resource than frantic Googling—and includes crucial terms like “gender essentialism” and “cisgender.” The book is trans-inclusive from the get-go and I bet these definitions will provide some readers with powerful words they’ve been looking for.
3. There are cute drawings everywhere.
Of course, instead of starting at chapter one, I found myself paging through the book just looking at the pictures. This was educational in itself—there are so many pictures! Illustrator kd diamond packs drawings and adorable sketches onto almost every page. Nothing catches my eye like a Hitachi vibrator emblazoned with the phrase “communicate.”
4. The book makes intimidating sex stuff approachable.
The tone of Girl Sex 101 is conversational through-and-through and the book breaks out certain tricky topics into fun little sidebars. The book clearly works hard to be accurate, but doesn’t overwhelm readers with medical jargon. For example, a guide on one bright purple walks readers through “D.I.Y. Orgasm” with the opening lines, “If you’ve never had an orgasm before, it can be tough to figure out what you’re ‘going for.’” How welcoming!
5. It’s full of interesting interviews.
Girl Sex 101 feels like a fun scrapbook of sex-positive ideas—it combines contributions and interviews from over 100 people, including sex educators like Tristan Taormino and Sex Nerd Sandra, writers like Julia Serano, and even porn stars like Jiz Lee. I wish my high school sex-ed textbook had included interviews with feminist porn stars. That’s the only downside I see to this book: It’ll make you angry that it didn’t exist before.
Related Reading: Sex Ed in the City — Oakland Students Campaign for Better Sex Ed.
Sarah Mirk is Bitch Media’s online editor and a sex-ed comic enthusiast.