Sex-positive advice books on consent for prospective college kid
June 15, 2015 2:34 PM   Subscribe

Asking for a friend: looking for recommendations for a book on relationships, sex, and consent that a 27-year-old brother can give to his 18-year-old sister before she leaves for university in September.

Back story: over Christmas my sister overheard a conversation my uncle and I were having where he'd joked about seeing license plates with the prefix "BSDM", which eventually lead to a two-hour conversation about relationships, relationship models, gender, sex, masturbation, and consent. Practically everything we talked about was new to her ("so… do all married couples have oral sex?", "why would you want something that vibrates?"), and she was fascinated by everything we were talking about. She's incredibly bright and mature in some ways, but also rather innocent and sheltered in her experiences.

On leaving that conversation, I realized just how little she and her social group know about the logistics of sex, relationship dynamics, and practical consent (e.g., how to tell someone you're dating that you like them but they can't touch your junk just yet). I'd really like to help her out on that front as she gets ready to leave for university (both so she can have a great time, and so she can be there for her friends), and our conversation leads me to believe that this is something in which she would welcome resources that do not involve her asking her big brother uncomfortable questions.

To that end, I'm looking for sex-positive (this includes queer-positive, kink-positive, poly-positive, etc) books on relationship and consent aimed at young adults - not the birds and the bees so much as practical advice. I'm already aware of Sex For One (which has a bit too much of a narrow focus) and Come As You Are (which will probably be a little bit over her head).

tl;dr: wonderful but innocent sister is going to university. I want to get her a book on relationships, sex, and consent. Any suggestions?
posted by Phire to Human Relations (18 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

Best answer: I have two favorites, one of which I gave to a nephew as he started college.

The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex

The Guide to Getting It On Everyone should have a copy of this one.
posted by janey47 at 2:37 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

I always recommend David Burns' excellent but dated "Intimate Connections" to my clients when it comes to sex, dating, marriage and a nice dose of CBT thrown in.
posted by Major Matt Mason Dixon at 2:38 PM on June 15, 2015

The guide to getting it on is worth looking at - it's not so much about consent as practices, but it covers at lot of things that teenagers are curious about and not taught by schools and their parents and may have learned incorrectly from peers.
posted by Candleman at 2:38 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: When I had teens in my life, I made sure that the Coalition for Positive Sexuality Just Say Yes was out where teens could find it.
posted by straw at 2:40 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: Here's the Scarleteen book.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:43 PM on June 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

Forgot to add: yes, it does explain the birds and the bees, but it's also about consent and pretty much everything else that's relevant.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:47 PM on June 15, 2015

Not quite what you're asking for, but might be part of a good package: I left a copy of Kate Bornstein's My Gender Workbook around where my younger sister could see it. Now I have a younger brother instead, so I guess it worked out well. The book's been recently updated. Go buy a copy so Kate can pay for cancer treatment!
posted by infinitewindow at 2:51 PM on June 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Dropping a helpful link to the Scarleteen website might be useful, too. It's a pretty good resource, plus if her social group could also use advice about this it'd be easier for her to share that one around than a physical book. Captain Awkward is a similarly good resource for relationship dynamics which is also easy for her to share if she likes it.

Not intended to replace a hard copy book, you understand. But possibly a nice link to toss in there and be sure she knows about?
posted by sciatrix at 3:03 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: Get the Scarleteen book SEX. Consent is foundational through every topic. There just plain isn't a better guide for this age group.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:19 PM on June 15, 2015

I unfortunately don't have any book recommendations but I would like to add that my favourite definition of consent is that:

"Consent is not the absence of a No, but the presence of a free and willing Yes."

Possible idea for what part of what to write inside a card that could accompany whichever book you give her?
posted by kinddieserzeit at 4:19 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: I'm sort of a goofy hippie in this regard but in addition to whatever specific book you get that is about sex (which i suggest) I'd also get her a copy of Our Bodies Ourselves which has been reprinted somewhat recently and just is a good book about female health including sexual and reproductive health. My favorite thing about it is the way it's really diverse, sex-positive and respectful and written for women of all ages, genders, sexual orientation etc. It's got a bit of an activist bent (in a good way imo) and would be a complement to whatever else you got her. It's also one she can keep on her bookshelf because it's not just SEX BOOK which may be useful depending on what her rooming situation and comfort level with that sort of thing is.
posted by jessamyn at 4:24 PM on June 15, 2015 [5 favorites]

Many, many colleges are providing some exposure to these concepts - consent & more. It's also worth her while to look into bystander intervention programs as a way to meet health-minded people that talk about these sorts of things.

Campuses want dating and relating to go well, so ask about what she's being offered as learning opportunities, and talk about to decisive moments in your own relationships/college experiences.
posted by childofTethys at 5:58 PM on June 15, 2015

Best answer: I like this video on consent. The linked version has an f-bomb, but also includes a link to version without.
posted by angiep at 6:53 PM on June 15, 2015

Oh jeez, don't let college be her sex education. That's a recipe for self-loathing and years of bad lays. Bleh. I grew up on Savage Love, which gave me a practical, tolerant & GGG approach to erotic scenarios. And you should definitely *definitely* give "Come As You Are" to your sister! The author, Emily Nagoski, also runs a blog called The Dirty Normal. Knowing about responsive desire and arousal nonconcordance will change her LIFE. Look, there's even a cartoon about it!

Who reads books these days? Send her links too. Pervocracy, Autostraddle, Fetlife.

A sex-posi kit with gloves, condoms, dams, lube and oh mebbe clothespins and a blindfold would be a nice touch.

Don't forget safer sex info! Takeaway: oral sex can give you itchies, cover your toys, test yourself regularly, get your partner's full history, most things are treatable but the ones that aren't really suck. Safer sex is your default ... fluid bonding is a choice.
posted by fritillary at 7:19 PM on June 15, 2015

Oh Joy Sex Toy might be worth pointing her towards - it is mostly a sex toy review webcomic, but the artist depicts a pretty wide range of bodies and activities (solo and partnered) and there's a link with all the education comics.

(And if you really want a book, there's always Volume One.)
posted by spaceman_spiff at 8:07 PM on June 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Laurie Penny's recent book, Unspeakable Things, is superb and highly readable. "Smart, clear-eyed, and irreverent, Unspeakable Things is a fresh look at gender and power in the twenty-first century, which asks difficult questions about dissent and desire, money and masculinity, sexual violence, menial work, mental health, queer politics, and the Internet."
posted by conrad53 at 10:45 PM on June 15, 2015

Seconding Guide to Getting things on. They approach sex and body on a very easy readable language without the taboo and covers a wide range of topics and useful in my opinion for all genders

Get the kindle version , it updates when they add revisions.
posted by radsqd at 12:52 PM on June 16, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone! My friend's got a stack of books he's going to order from Amazon and check out before deciding which ones to pass along. Great answers, as always :)
posted by Phire at 2:01 PM on June 16, 2015

« Older How do I clean out my water pack's tubes?   |   Hindi translation mystery Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.