“Influencer”. It’s such an odd term. I hear it used in the context of social media and it’s made me give some thought to who has influenced me over the years (including way before social media was ever a thing).
A quick scan of my bookshelf reveals the answer. There have been several key people who have definitely influenced my understanding, my beliefs, and my experiences of being a sexual person.
As a thank you to some of these people, I want to share their books with you today and encourage you to read any you feel drawn to. (They are all great companions to my book, Desire Lines!)
Sex for One by Betty Dodson
Known as the ‘grandmother of masturbation’, reading Betty’s book, Sex for One: the Joy of Self-Loving, taught me about women’s genitals, self-pleasuring, and having a love affair with myself – a phrase I come back to time and time again. Betty died, age 91, at the end of 2020 and I am sad that I never got to attend one of her Bodysex workshops. Her many decades of work live on through her writing, her videos, and the lives of all of those she influenced.
Post-Porn Modernist by Annie Sprinkle
Annie has been a sex worker, porn star, academic sexologist, and is now an environmental artist from an eco-sexual perspective. Through her book, Annie Sprinkle: Post-Porn Modernist, she gave me an important and early role model for how to be an empowered, sexual woman. I met her at a book signing and had a complete fangirl moment. Then I took part in one of her art events: getting into bed with her and her partner, Beth Stephens (swoon!). I’ve also had the pleasure of watching her and Barbara Carrellas demonstrate their energy orgasms at a joint workshop I attended.
Urban Tantra by Barbara Carrellas
The creator of Urban Tantra, and (amongst many other things) a sex/life coach, Barbara believes that “pleasure is good and ecstasy is necessary”. I completed her in-person Urban Tantra Professional Training Program, met her and an extraordinary group of remarkable human beings, and expanded my sacred sexuality. Prior to this, I was convinced Tantra was inaccessible to me as a queer woman. Barbara offered me a way in and a sense of community and inclusion. Her book is a great resource for those who can’t access her work in person, or who simply want to use it as an on-going resource.
The Ethical Slut, and Radical Ecstasy by Dossie Easton
Dossie Easton is “dedicated to feminist, polyamorous, BDSM, spiritual, gender-diverse, and LGBTQ individuals and communities… new paradigms of gender, sexuality, and relationships.” Her books genuinely changed my life, especially Radical Ecstasy, which showed me how to write with courage and deep authenticity, especially when the topic is one steeped in taboo. I was privileged to meet Dossie to interview her for a magazine article, and also to attend one of her workshops.
There are many more books on my shelf and many other extraordinary people who have had an impact on me and my work. I’m sure I’ll share more in the future but, in the meantime, there’s definitely enough here to get your teeth into!