People love to talk about sex. But chat all we may about the deed, there remains a whole lot of uncertainty in the space, and folks continue to feel uncomfortable asking questions (which, spoiler alert: we all have). Our sex column, Sexhacker, attempts to answer some of those questions for you – but there are loads of brilliant resources around if you’d like to continue your learning.
Here, I’ve pulled together a list of books, shows and podcasts about sex that are worth your attention.
This list is an amalgamation of resources I’ve come across through my personal learnings on sex and pleasure, as well as some that have been recommended by sex experts.
5 good books on sex and pleasure
Welcome to Consent
Written by Yumi Stynes and Melissa Kang (Dolly Doctor), Welcome to Consent is the guide to navigating consent that you wish you had in school. Yes, it’s framed as a book for young audiences, but during my interview with Kang, she made it clear that the content is for ages eight to 108.
Without consent, good sex can’t happen. So, it’s worth learning how to approach this topic first.
Love and Virtue
Eleanor Gordon-Smith recommended this book as part of a write-up for the Ethics Centre, which spotlit thoughtful titles that explore the ethics of sex. It’s also been recognised with a long list of awards.
The synopsis of the book by Diana Reid reads:
Michaela and Eve are two bright, bold women who befriend each other their first year at a residential college at university, where they live in adjacent rooms. They could not be more different; one assured and popular – the other uncertain and eager-to-please. But something happens one night in O-week – a drunken encounter, a foggy memory that will force them to confront the realities of consent and wrestle with the dynamics of power.
Initially bonded by their wit and sharp eye for the colleges’ mix of material wealth and moral poverty, Michaela and Eve soon discover how fragile friendship is, and how capable of betrayal they both are.
Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life
Emily Nagoski’s NYT bestseller, Come As You Are, promises to “radically transform your sex life”. The book centres on women’s pleasure and the connection between mindfulness and satisfying sexual encounters.
I had the opportunity to hear Katrina Marson speak about her book at its launch, and it was an eye-opening exploration of Australia’s approach to sexual education and our relationship with consent.
Legitimate Sexpectations is described as a book that “exposes the limits of the criminal justice system and the fault lines in our society when it comes to sex, sexuality, and relationships. Through storytelling that moves between heartbreak and hope, Marson makes the case for a cultural shift towards valuing sexual wellbeing and preventing sexual violence in the first place. In doing so, she calls on us all to play our part to ensure that young people’s sexual experiences are not just free from violence, but far from violent.”
The Uses of the Erotic
Another recommendation from Eleanor Gordon Smith is the essay by Audre Lorde, The Uses of the Erotic. She describes it as “A beautiful series of literary reflections on the power of the erotic, along with an exploration of why it is kept hidden, private, and denied, especially to particular groups.”
5 good podcasts on pleasure
We recently published an article on 11 sex podcasts that were great for elevating your sex education and getting you in the mood. We’ve pulled out a handful of those for you, but the full list is available here.
In about ten minutes, Good Sex hands the mic to sex experts and enthusiasts who, through first-person dialogue, share their conversations and inner monologues about all sorts of sex: fat sex, booty calls, unusual kinks, and swinging. It’s the sex conversations we all should be having but might be a little too embarrassed to get into — but the voices of Good Sex are decidedly not.
WHOREible Decisions makes the rest of the podcasts on this list sound like Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood. Hosts Mandii B & WeezyWTF aren’t afraid to talk about the raciest, rawist, and most explicit bedroom topics.
Turn Me On
On Turn Me On, married couple Jeremie and Bryde have open conversations about sex, love, and their polyamorous lives. By talking with sex workers, tantric healers, and others practising polyamory and open relationships, they’ll deepen your thinking about what pleasure and relationships can look like and help you unlearn the passé beliefs about sex that have probably been burned in your brain since you turned 14.
Private Parts Unknown
On Private Parts Unknown, comedians and best friends Courtney Kocak and Sophya Alexandra take their sex talk global, covering differing feelings around sex, relationships, and dating from country to country.
Girls on Porn
The words people plug into porn sites reveal a lot about our most secretive desires, and each week on Girls on Porn, Laura and Rachel are digging into those search terms to finding and reviewing porn based on them. (Think: bondage, nerd, cosplay, spit play, Italian.)
5 good shows for sex education
I mean, it’s in the title. And the Netflix series certainly delivers. From teens navigating love and sexuality to authentic representations of abortion and self-esteem struggles, Sex Education nails the brief of depicting sex, pleasure and exploration for younger people accurately – all while cementing healthy messages to audiences watching at home.
The Principles of Pleasure
Drawing on the expertise of educators like Emily Nagoski (whose book we referenced above), The Principles of Pleasure works to debunk myths about sex, pleasure and our bodies. It’s an eye-opening watch for anyone interested to learn. Watch it on Netflix.
I May Destroy You
Eleanor Gordon Smith describes I May Destroy You as a “dark comedy-drama television series tracing the impact of sexual assault on memory, self-understanding, and relationships, and especially other sexual desires and expectations.”
The series deals with painful subject matter, but has been praised for the impact it has had on the way we see and discuss consent. Watch it on Binge.
Good Luck to You, Leo Grande
Okay, this may not be a show, but it deserves a spot on this list because it is such a touching and thoughtful representation of sex, shame and repression for older women. It’s also a fairly accurate portrayal of straight, male sex work, as we recently learned in an interview.
Watch it on digital rental.
Masters of Sex
Our final spot on the list goes to Masters of Sex, which is also a book! It covers the beginnings of research in the sexual health space, and the synopsis starts with:
“William Masters and Virginia Johnson are known as pioneers of the science of human sexuality. Their research shoots them to fame on a trajectory that takes them from humble beginnings in the Midwest to the cover of Time magazine.”