I first met writer Rachel Hills when I was an aspiring journalism student at UNSW. As a bright-eyed 2nd-year student, she was an academic I looked up to with a stance on feminism, pop culture and sex that I hadn’t encountered before my university years. I think a lot of women remember their first entry-point into feminism, and Rachel Hills’ work was my door to more empowered perspectives. Her bold voice and informed perspectives inspired much of my own writing and viewpoints, and I was eager to interview her for my weekly column in the student magazine just to pick her brain, with a naive hope that her publishing prowess might rub off on me. Luckily for me, my wish was granted by my editor and a mutual friend of ours. I remember interviewing her outside the library, handheld recorder by my side, and with about half an hour to spare before she ducked off to her alma mater, The University of Sydney.
And 7 years later, with she in New York and myself in Melbourne, I had the chance to explore our favourite topics yet again, and talk about her new book The Sex Myth, a highly accessible but nonetheless meaty piece of new non-fictional feminist literature that I encourage you to get your hands on.
So what exactly is the sex myth? If you’ve ever been burdened by societal rules on ladylike behaviour, you’ll understand the pervasive sense that your sexual appetite might not fit the norm. Is everyone having sex but you? Or perhaps you feel shamed for your casual encounters? It’s been fifty years since the sexual revolution, yes, but there’s a new power at play here in policing what goes on behind closed doors.
It’s not the government.
It’s not the church.
And it’s not the media (not always, anyway).
It’s actually us. And although our new brand of sexual convention doesn’t exist within a vacuum, it really is up to us to bust our own sex myths in the name of health and happiness.
In this episode we talk about:
- Nerdy and passionate love for feminist non-fiction
- Why the personal is political, and the sex myth as part of a broader cultural framework
- What is the sex myth and how are we ALL affected by it?
- Is everyone having sex but you? The answer…NOPE!
- Shame and stigma around sexuality
- How do sex myths come about? Hint – it’s not the media…it’s you!
- Why sex work is NOT uniquely exploitative. It’s just work!
- Slut shaming
- Sex as a serious, academic subject
- The perils of writing while female and mansplaining
- Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy
- The definition of healthy sexual expression (hint: does it feel good? Is it ethical?)
- Is overt sexual expression the only real sexuality?
- Are morality and ethics the same thing?
- Sex Start Ups in a Hostile Business World
- Cindy Gallop’s Make Love Not Porn and marketing sex
- Why porn is not inherently detrimental to consent culture and feminism
- Yes, God, Yes by Karen Maine
- Why does repressing sex make it more exciting?
- Seeking Arrangement, Sugar Daddy dating and selling your sexuality for profit
- The financial privileges of sexual freedom
- Sex and the City and its place within our sexual freedom narratives
- The disparity between social classes and sexual freedom
- The astounding relevancy of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
- Trump’s presidency and reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights
- What’s the difference between objectification and subjectification
- The History of Sexuality by Focault
- How rules become a part of our lives without us even realising it
- Pitching to women’s magazines and writing about progressive issues for teen magazines
- Middle class expectations, insecurity and straddling the line between two extremes
- Sex as a part of consumer culture
- Do dating apps commoditise people?
- The rating and dating complex by William Waller
- What actions can we take TODAY to combat the Sex Myth?
Buy tickets to Rachel’s play here.
You can buy Rachel’s book The Sex Myth through Amazon.
All We Cannot Say is a dating podcast that explores love, sex, joy and heartbreak through a lens of philosophical enquiry. Subscribe via iTunes to learn more about relationships 2.0, ethical non-monogamy, sexuality, lgbt issues, modern romance, adventures on Tinder, online dating, compassion, empathy, sex tech and more.