Someone who wrote some terrible sex tips was upset about my critique
I got a note recently from an author of a post that I took apart for a Terrible Sex Tip post, the one about “reawakening your inner divine sexy goddess.” The author was really hurt about my critique, which covered, among other things, the non-specificity of the advice, the woo-woo language, and my general distrust of the whole phraseology of her approach.
When I read her response, I felt bad for a moment. I had been pointed and snarky about her philosophy—I owned up to my anti-spirituality bias—and that hurt her feelings. I knew this day would come, too; you don’t critique sex tips and promote those critiques in a small-ish online bubble of sex-aware people (including other sex writers!) and not have that come around eventually. Of course I had thought about what I would do. (And of course it makes sense that I would write another article about it. Process, baby, it’s all process!)
I’m not sorry to have written the original, though. Yourtango.com is not that writer’s own personal site, nor is it a sex-and-spirituality web site; it is a general-audience space, with sex tips drawing from all around the sexuality sphere, with everything from Tantra to medium-core BDSM popping up on its pages. People are presumably reading the articles there to get some guidance, some information at least. Sex tips are a product there, and as such, need to be open to some sort of consumer warning.
“Oh, but Terrible is such a harsh word,” I can hear people say. Yes. Terrible is a strong condemnation. But I’m not using it about the writers, I’m using it about their work, and sometimes the word “terrible” applies…
- when the sex tips don’t give real advice that can be followed. Even a spiritual sex piece can give you imagery guidelines, writing prompts, meditation exercises for touching or looking at yourself or someone else.
- when the sex tips really do say that everyone has this potential or this thing inside them. Nope. That just ain’t so. Whether you’re talking about cervical orgasms or inner goddesses, not everyone has your magical It, even if they wanted it. Insisting that they do is patronizing as fuck, and comes off very missionary (not in the good way).
- when you’ve chosen a proprietary phrase (in this case “inner divine sexy goddess”) and use it over and over without exploration or definition. Merely repeating something does not make it a real, objective thing.
“Oh, but this is really my spiritual truth.” Good. I’m glad you found it. But if you want to write about it and share it with people as sex tips, THEN FUCKING GET CONCRETE WITH YOUR TRUTHS. If you want to start a religion, that is a different thing. Good luck, and don’t sleep with your followers; that is how REALLY terrible things happen.
“Oh, but calling something Terrible is not very supportive of your colleagues.” Unfortunately, there are no online forums dedicated to sharing our sex tips with one another before we put them out in the world. There is no International Sex Writers’ Guild, although that’s not a bad idea. I try to read as much as I can that comes through my Facebook Feed, and then share the ones I think are legit awesome, and set aside the ones that are “meh” but I don’t have real beef with. The Terrible ones, they exhibit one or more of the flaws that I mentioned, here or in my “red-flag” article, and I continue to feel fine in calling that out.
One last thing to remember: sex writing is writing. As such, there should be both awards given out for good ones, and some critique for the not-great. So, you know, if you’ve really got an inner divine sexy goddess, ask her to help you do better, because if you really want people to climb on board that train, YOU HAVE TO SHOW THEM HOW.
Terrible Sex Tips really aren’t about me playing around with snark; it’s about me thinking JEEZUS CHRIST WE NEED TO BE BETTER AT THIS. Become a patron of mine over on Patreon and help me keep pushing sex-aware writing and culture up and out.