Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D. is an exploration of the physiology and psychology of women’s sexual wellbeing.
I’m so glad this book was written. So many women are terrified to even think about their own sexuality let alone discuss their sex lives with others. It’s such a taboo in our culture and that just creates more fear and shame around women’s sexuality. She works very hard to normalize women’s sexuality in a society that often sees women as broken versions of men.
Nagoski’s style of writing was difficult for me as there were so many metaphors and colloquialisms. It also got to be repetitive but that was clearly intentional. Many of the struggles discussed in the book are not things that I deal with in my own life but I can see how that reiteration would be helpful for someone who is struggling. Nagoski is a sex therapist so the book reads a lot like a self-help alternative to seeking therapy (or maybe the catalyst that prompts someone to seek professional help).
She provides so much great information and highlights how society has contributed to our constant miseducation. It made me think back to the sex ed classes I had in grade school. They weren’t really educating the youth about sex. It was more of a scare tactic. “Don’t have sex or you’ll get syphilis!” Then they would show graphic pictures of warts, skin lesions, dying people in hospital beds and so on. There wasn’t much scientific information being passed on but there was definitely lots of shame.
Nagoski offers ways to deal with the shame and false beliefs. Her biggest recommendation is mindfulness. Being aware of the things that turn you on and the things that turn you off. Then working to turn off more of the offs and turn on more of the ons. If by the end of the book you still need a little help, in the appendix sections, Nagoski even throws in her suggestions for therapeutic masturbation and extended orgasm.
My biggest take away from this book, and the one Nagoski is driving home, is that your sexual satisfaction starts in your mind. Context is everything. If you want a better sex life, create a sex-positive context. I highly recommend this book to all women interested in exploring their sexuality or to men that want to better understand their partners.
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If this book sparks your interest, join my online book club! We read and discuss many life-changing books.