A while back, I was able to participate in workshops around Jaclyn Friedman’s creation of her latest book, What You Really Really Want. The book has been released (WOO!) : and this post is a stop in Jaclyn’s blog tour. The full title of WYRRW is What You Really Really Want: The Smart Girl’s Shame-Free Guide to Sex and Safety. Be sure to check out her next stop tomorrow at Tiger Beatdown.
REBECCA KLING: For how long has this book been bouncing around in your mind? In the introduction to WYRRW, you talk about an interview surrounding the release of Yes Means Yes (released in 2008) which you co-edited with Jessica Valenti. In that interview, a reporter asked how women are supposed “to figure out what we want to say ‘yes’ to in the first place.” Would you place the creation of this book around that time, or further back?
JACLYN FRIEDMAN: That was definitely the question that first planted the seed. Honestly, I didn’t give a very complete answer at the time. I think I said, basically, you have to try things, and follow your intuition as to which things to try and who to try them with, and then learn from your experiments. And that it had taken me, personally, a long time to figure things out, and that in some ways I still was, and might always be. Which I still stand by, but is wildly oversimple. And then when I started hearing it over and over from different women as I toured for Yes Means Yes, I realized that I had a lot to share about what I’d learned along my own sexual journey, through personal experience, reading and talking with other people, all kinds of things. That’s when I realized that the answer to this crucial, recurring question was really a book.
RK: WYRRW is by no means aimed exclusively at young women, but throughout the book you discuss the cultural messages aimed at young women. How has what you “really really want” when it comes to sex changed from when you were growing up to now?
JF: I long ago stopped faking orgasms, so that’s a big change! In a funny way, I behave less “certainly” in my sexual interactions now than I did when I was first dipping my toe in those waters. Back then, I thought I needed to be “good at” sex in order to please my partners – and as much as I enjoyed sex when I was younger (and I really did, that’s for sure), I was heavily invested in pleasing at the expense of my own satisfaction. In some ways, I got lucky — my early sexual partners were decent people who also cared about pleasing, and honestly, everything about sex was so exciting then that I was getting a lot out of it without having to do much self-centering or self-reflection. But I’ve also just stopped caring so much about being magically, seamlessly “good” at sex, because I’ve learned two key things. The first is that that’s a meaningless concept to begin with: everybody likes different things, so the only real way to be a good lover is to get better at communicating with your partner(s) about needs, desires, preferences and boundaries. It’s really all about learning how to pay attention to yourselves and each other. Well, and it’s all about the other big thing I’ve learned since then, which is that the experimentation and discovery that you can only enjoy if you come to sex clear that there aren’t “answers,” and even if there were, you don’t know them, that sense of playfulness and co-creation is one of the best parts of sex. I wouldn’t trade it for all the certainty in the world. Continue reading 'Interview with Jaclyn Friedman, author of What You Really Really Want'»