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Menstruation isn’t usually a topic I seek out at the bookstore…but for some reason, when health advice is written out in pseudo-astrological terms, I’m all about it.

You know that mysterious week or so every month when you look in the mirror and instead of thinking, “Eww,” you think, “Hell yeah”? That’s what this book, The Venus Week: Discover the Powerful Secret of Your Cycle…At Any Age, by Rebecca Booth, MD, ob/gyn, is about. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m thinkin’ I oughtta.

Courtesy of Tower.com

Image courtesy of tower.com

According to Dr. Booth, the Venus Week is “a cache of days, which happens around the same time each month [and is] the convergence of a woman’s mind, body, and sexuality. When women learn to lean into this tremendously powerful energy, suddenly their hormones become their greatest ally—instead of their biggest foe.”

I’ve always noticed those few fleeting days when my skin glows, acne fades, my hair feels shinier, my body feels agile, and I’m just generally at peace with the world, but I’ve never really understood what’s going on. I just chalk it up to fluke good hair days or give all the credit to some new skin product I’m using.

No, Dr. Booth says. That attractive glow and happy feeling comes from within you. And the book gives tips on how to harness that sparkle as well as to prolong it into your “waning” or “Minerva” days (also known as your “everything sucks and I hate my hair” days.)

None of the diet, exercise, and beauty advice the book offers sound revelatory, however, critics say that the tips are simple, pointed, and easy to carry out.

The monthly cycle has always gotten a bad rap — PMS horror myths, the way men wrinkle their nose at the word “tampon,” cramps, the myriad crass slang words for your period, all of that. It’s nice to have an authoritative resource that highlights the positives of a woman’s cycle.

Check out this book review from the Washington Post. And, for the technologically inclined, you can now get the book on Kindle.

– Ms. Feelgood

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Help wanted.

But this isn’t a sign in some dingy diner window. It’s a call for submissions from the venerable New York Magazine.

The Daily Intelligencer (known as the Daily Intel), the hourly news blog at NY Mag, is looking for more writers for their popular and permanent fixture, the Sex Diaries.

The Sex Diaries are a weeklong diary of the sex lives of anonymous New Yorkers. For seven days, we get to peek into the sexual exploits, conquests, disasters, and routines — or utter lack thereof — of neighbors, friends, and everyday citizens.

“Once a week, Daily Intel looks behind doors left slightly ajar” is the feature’s cheeky tagline.

Courtesy of Empire Online

This could be you, sans heinous sweater. (Courtesy of Empire Online)


Sometimes boring, sometimes fascinating, always a good way to waste 15 minutes, Sex Diaries is Jane Doe and John Shmoe’s chance to be Carrie Bradshaw. Here are some of my favorites: The PostGrad TV Assistant Living with Boyfriend and Morose Married Musician.

Diversity is the new black, so they’re looking for people to contribute more than your run-of-the-mill, coupled-or-married, vanilla sex life: “We get very few entries from people over the age of 45, a sad lack of dominatrices, almost no bisexuals, and there’s a complete dearth of actual prostitutes,” the Daily Intel complains.

Let freedom and diversity reign from Brooklyn to the Adirondacks, Albany to Buffalo. If you don’t consider your sex life par for the course, and you aren’t abashed to write about it (a fantasy sexual relationship with your hot mailman, a very real relationship with your vibrator, whatever the case may be), email intel@nymag.com.

Maybe your co-worker or sister-in-law is a sex diarist and you didn’t even know it! And hey, what’s stopping you from being a sex diarist too?

– Ms. Feelgood

I’ve spent some time talking to Melody Surace, a pleasure party consultant based in Utica, New York, for a feature story I’m writing for Untied. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Melody, it’s that a clitoris is a woman’s best friend.

Courtesy of Pure Romance

This clitoral vibrator from Pure Romance is waterproof.

Being a long time fan of the clitoris myself, I would have to concur. But I’ve realized from talking to Melody that I haven’t been as generous to my own button o’ pleasure as I could be. If it’s a woman’s best friend, a woman should treat it like one — buy it gifts on its birthday, chat with it, give it the attention it deserves. (Well, chatting with your clitoris might make you feel more crazy than generous…)

But buying your clitoris a present is not at all a bad idea and it could lead you to more body-and-mind bliss than you know.

“Every woman in America should have at least one clitoral bullet,” Melody told me.

Courtesy of Pure Romance

The Vibro Pod from Pure Romance plugs into your iPod and vibrates along with the beat of the song playing. God bless technology!

Well, perhaps, I thought, but why would I want anything called or resembling a “bullet” close to my ladies’ region? It sounds like a weapon, it sounds scary, and my clitoris is a lover, not a fighter.

After an edifying session of perusing the product pages at Pure Romance, a sex toy company, I found several clitoral bullets and realized that there’s nothing harmful or scary about them. It’s just a little bullet-shaped vibrator that gives you that satisfying stimulation that your clitoris adores.

Many bullets, or clitoral vibrators, come in different colors and with different functions or specialties. Some have multiple speeds, while others are waterproof, and still others can sync up its vibrations to the music you’re listening to! Wow, they think of it all.

Most bullets run from $15.00 to $40.00. It’s a discreet little toy that runs on batteries — no electrical outlet needed. What better birthday gift for woman’s best friend?

– Ms. Feelgood

My last blog post was on Betty Dodson, “mother of masturbation.” I just finished reading her seminal book, Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving, and my general reaction was along the lines of “Where have you been all my life?!”

Courtesy of Barnes and Noble

This is the book that told the world that masturbation is ok, that it’s time to get comfy with our selfloving, stop feeling guilty, and enjoy the sensations already. It caused quite the stir in 1974 when it was first published as an essay in the celebrated, butt-kicking feminist magazine, Ms., then once again in 1986 when it was published as an extended book, Sex for One.

The book focuses mostly on the quandaries us ladies have with ourselves “down there,” like genital self-image, the inability to orgasm, or the eternal confusion over where or what the clitoris and G-spot actually are. But the book doesn’t discriminate; it speaks to many unisex concerns, such as the guilt that comes from being conditioned that masturbation is unhealthy, and it dispels the notion that masturbation is selfish or an unfulfilling alternative to partner sex.

“Masturbation is a primary form of sexual expression,” Dodson states in the first line, asserting that selflove is just as legit, fun, and healing as partner sex.

Dodson explains how some hot selfloving can actually boost confidence, open your mind, tap into your creative consciousness, relieve stress, and generally make you enjoy the heck out of life. All this comforting and encouraging information is written in a totally non-threatening, non-crazy-wingnut way, and it’s all packaged with some lovely, honest illustrations of people engaged in their preferred form of selfloving.

Sound too good to be true? Read the book.

– Ms. Feelgood

I’m reading a book called Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving by Betty Dodson, who is known as “the mother of masturbation” in America. The book is fascinating and I’ll blog about it when I finish. But for now, I’d like you to meet Betty.

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Betty rocking her sweet silver overcoat.

First of all, it’s “Doctor” Dodson, if you’re nasty. (Thank you, Janet Jackson.) Although Betty was trained as a classical artist and still works as an artist, she got her Ph.D. in sexology from the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in 1994. But get this—she only went for her degree after spending about 30 years teaching women across America that it’s ok to be sexual, to masturbate, and to love their genitals. She likes to point out that she got to her vaunted position of nationally known sexpert only through her personal experiences, not through formal medical or psychological training.

Betty was a big name in the second-wave feminist movement of the ’60s. She was super involved with NOW and maintains that unfair social conditioning keeps women from realizing their full sexual potential.

Recently she paired up with Carlin Ross, a hot-to-trot young feminist with a past life in media law. The two run a website where their mission is to “present their unique perspective on What Women Want in the Boardroom and the Bedroom.” Love it.

Photo courtesy of dodsonandross.com
Betty and her protege, Carlin.

Although I can’t say I agree with everything Betty writes about in Sex for One (more on that in a later blog), the woman’s outspokenness and fearlessness is friggin’ inspirational. You don’t get a title like “the mother of masturbation” for nothing.

I just thought y’all should meet.

Oh, negative body image, my old and pesky friend. Most women get acquainted with it before adulthood. I think I first met mine at puberty, like many women before me. Since Naomi Wolf launched the third-wave feminist movement with The Beauty Myth, female negative body image has been blasted as a major cause of low self-esteem, depression, eating disorders, and a host of other zero-fun maladies that plague women.

Now we can add bad sex to that list, and it has to do with how we view our genitals. Genital self-image is, believe it or not, kind of a big deal. A 2005 study, sponsored by Summer’s Eve, involving 2,206 women showed that the cuter you think your thang is, the better sex you have.

The study reports, “Women who scored highest on the Genital Self-Image Scale reported greater levels of sexual function in all areas, had more sexual energy, and had an easier time achieving orgasm.” Hey-o!

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, painting by Giovanni Bellini
Learning to love what we see in the mirror. (Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, painting by Giovanni Bellini)

An even earlier study on Canadian post-secondary students, both boys and girls, reported similar findings. I found this tidbit interesting: “Item analysis suggested that, for men, the locus of genital dissatisfaction was penis size whereas for women, the loci were genital odour and pubic hair (amount and texture).”

It’s sad to admit that even though our genitals are one of the most essential parts of our body—they’re what ensure survival of the human species—we spend so little time loving them, treating them well, spending quality time with them. When was the last time we took a good look at ourselves “down there” in the mirror? Or worse yet, how many times have I heard women say that they think their genitals are ugly? Ladies, it’s time we learned to love what we’ve got going on down there. We can all enjoy our sex lives more, solo or otherwise, if we dote on our vaginas!

This is what one sex therapist in Philadelphia says on the matter:

“Get in the habit of loving yourself, emotionally and physically. Does this mean you need to increase your masturbation habits? Not necessarily, but it does mean you need to appreciate yourself more. Increasing your sexual self-esteem means feeling good in your skin, in and out of your clothes, appreciating your perfection and imperfection, knowing that all of this makes you need a unique sexual creation. One way to assist with accomplishing this is to take some time looking at your body in a mirror and identifying the parts of your body you appreciate and enjoy.”

Our genitals are our friends. Stop hating on them, start loving them, and have more orgasms. The world would be a better place.

You may not believe in Santa Claus anymore, but how about aphrodisiacs? According to the FDA, sexually stimulating foods and chemicals known as aphrodisiacs are the stuff of legends, to be shelved with Santa Claus, Paul Revere, and El Chupacabra.

An article on the FDA’s website reads, “In 1989, the agency declared that there is no scientific proof that any over-the-counter aphrodisiacs work to treat sexual dysfunction.”

Image taken from sprig.com.
Oysters have long been considered an aphrodisiac. I consider them delicious.

Despite the government’s official disavowal of ginseng, oysters, rhinoceros horn, and chocolate as sexy foods (throw that in a pot, and you got yourself a stew!), aphrodisiacs enjoy a millennia-long history in folklore and folk medicine. First studied and catalogued by ancient Greek scholars and herbalists like Pliny and Dioscordes, aphrodisiacs still make headlines today.

“So what do foods that make people randy have to do with me, a single woman?” you may ask. Well, my answer is to not sell yourself short. Sexual health and pleasure are for everyone, not just the coupled. Many medical experts say that depriving oneself of sexual stimulation can lead to stress, poor sleep, or depression. There’s no shame in having a romantic night in by yourself. You are still a sensual being—make sure to take the time to nurture that side of you, which will never cease to give you pleasure despite your marital status.

The FDA may be skeptical, but history attests to the healing powers of the aphrodisiac. And some aphrodisiacs can be downright tasty. I mean, do you really need an excuse to treat yourself to a night of champagne and chocolate without having to share it with anyone else? Try it some night—it might have you whistling a tune as you get ready for work the next morning.

Image taken from 1001 Things to Buy
Champagne and chocolate caviar available at 1001things2buy.com, if you’re feeling spendy.

Here are some aphro resources to help you plan your delicious, romantic evening for one:
• Comprehensive list of aphrodisiac food from SafeAphrodisiac.com.
Top 10 aphrodisiacs (including other sensory stimulants, not just food) from LiveScience.com.
History, encyclopedic definition, and food list of aphrodisiacs from gourmetsleuth.com.
• Star Chef’s aphrodisiac recipes.
• “Getting Frisky with Garlic”: An aphrodisiac salad recipe.

Bon apetit!

Ever been to a pleasure party? I recently attended my first as part of my research for an article, and now I’m totally convinced to throw my own.

Pleasure parties, if you’re unfamiliar, is the newest evolution of the Tupperware party. It’s got the tried-and-true structure: a salesperson makes a house call to a group of gal-pals. But instead of kitchen supplies or makeup, the pleasure party is about “sex enhancers.” The order form can include anything from lingerie and lubricants to vibrators and sex how-to books. Sure beats the heck out of Tupperware, if you ask me.


Pure Romance’s flavored lip and nipple balm will give a tingly sensation for arousal.

As part of a growing trend, pleasure party companies are generally experiencing huge success. For example, a press release from Passion Parties, a leading company in the industry, boasts a sales record of “60 months of consecutive growth at or above the 50 percent mark.” Similarly, competitor Pure Romance has increased its net sales from $1 million in 1994 to $50 million in 2005. If this doesn’t send a clear message that America wants and needs some sexual healing, I don’t know what does.


Medical experts weigh in on the benefits of pleasure parties on the TV show, “The Doctors.”

It’s a robust business, and many new outfits have popped up to serve regional markets. For Your Pleasure, BlissParties, ScarletGirl, and Ultimate Nights all have informational websites and online shopping.

The great thing about the pleasure party is that it provides a non-threatening environment for women to talk, joke, laugh, and learn about sex. Many companies uphold a no-males-allowed policy. A private venue among friends goes a long way to enhance dialogue—as well as bawdiness. At a pleasure party, there’s no need to worry about what people will think, and most taboos are cut down to size with a good dose of humor.

In 2006, a male sex columnist from MSNBC attended three pleasure parties in Missouri. You can read about the impact his presence had on the party dynamics here.

If you’re considering throwing a pleasure party, take note that most companies offer hostess incentives, which could translate to hundreds of dollars worth of free stuff! A pleasure party could save you money as well as the time and discomfort of visiting a sex shop. Party on!

Product image found at pureromance.com. Video found at youtube.com.</em

I can talk about it all day, every day, nights and weekends included. It’s my favorite topic, and maybe it’s yours too. Let’s face it: women are no less sexual beings than men, and I think that’s cause for celebration!

Welcome to Sex and Psyche, a blog about exploring female sexuality. This is NOT a blog on dating advice or sex advice for couples. This blog is about YOU and getting in touch with what turns you on. It’s about claiming your sexuality if you’ve never found it, reclaiming it if you’ve lost it, and enhancing it if you’ve got it and it’s raring to go.

This blog will feature topics and questions about how a woman can enhance her sexual agency for herself, by herself. Unfortunately, I’m no Dr. Ruth. I didn’t get my degree in sexology, but (perhaps laughably) in English Literature. And although I’m not a sex therapist, I hope you’ll think of me as your biggest advocate for sexual well being, both in body and mind. I’ll be your cheerleader, color guard and marching band rooting for hot, single sex.

Dr. Ruth
Thank heaven for Dr. Ruth.

From recent studies and books to new gadgets (the rabbit, anyone?) and trends, there’s a wealth of information on having a healthy, sexy, solo love life. I’ll be your aggregator of all the expert knowledge that’s out there. (Or if you prefer, you can think of me as your lubed-up conduit to all this juicy info.)

Just because you’re single doesn’t mean you can’t have an active and satisfying sex life. With Sex and Psyche, I’d like to create a safe place for women to talk and think about sexuality, a place where we can discuss our own bodies, our own minds, our own drives and urges.

Let’s talk about sex!