Tag Archives: women’s sexuality

Brenda Jackson: Pioneer of African-American Sexy Romance


Debbie says:

I don’t follow the romance field, but I do listen to a variety of podcasts, including the new “This Is Love” podcast by the creators of “Criminal.” This week, host Phoebe Judge interviewed Brenda Jackson (episode title “Always Tomorrow”), and I was delighted to learn about her.

Jackson broke into romance writing at first by accident. She started out with–and has maintained–a refreshingly straightforward and positive view of sex and sexuality, especially women’s sex and sexuality. Coming out of a long and happy marriage to a man who was delighted by her success and her subject matter, her basic stance is that our bodies are designed for enjoyment. Although she is extremely modest, she has put a lot of time and energy into exploring what she likes, and what her readers like, and what works and doesn’t work–and she talks about that freely.

Her career didn’t begin as smoothly as her actual writing did. In the early 1990s, editors liked her first book but none of them would buy it, and none of them would tell her why (“It just isn’t right for us”). Eventually, an editor at a romance writers’ convention finally admitted the truth: “I’d buy your book in a heartbeat if the characters were white.” When pressed, the editor gave the tired old responses: “There’s no market for romances with black characters.” “Our readers don’t identify with your characters.” And so forth and so on.

Jackson couldn’t see why she should change her characters’ skin colors–after all, she read romance with white characters and identified just fine. She kept going to writers’ conventions, and connected with a small group of other African-American “wannabe writers” (her term). Finally, an editor at Harlequin approached them, complimented them on their patience and perseverance, and started Arabesque, a line of African-American romances.

You can guess the punchline: the books flew off the shelves. The readers were there all along; the obstacle was the cowardice of the publishers. Now, Brenda Jackson has published over 100 books and African-American sexy romance is an established publishing niche, known to attract audiences and make money.

Jackson is an immensely likable interviewee. I feel sure that her books have the same combination of sweetness and no-nonsense attitude that she shares during the podcast. Listen to the whole 20-minute interview; you’ll be glad you did.

3D Printers Are for Something Better than Porn

Debbie says:


Paris-based researcher Odile Fillod is single-handedly educating the youth of France about the realities of sex and female anatomy with her new creation: the world’s first 3D-printed, anatomically correct clitoris.

The friend who sent me this article by Matt Nedostup at SomeCards found it on Facebook, and thought it might be a joke, but it is apparently a real thing in the world–and from my perspective a good one.

Laurie and I wrote about “clitoral studies” about a year and a half ago.  Although women’s sexuality has been getting some detailed attention for decades, and perhaps more in the past few years, real information is still quite obscure. Stephanie Theobald, writing about Fillod’s clitoral model in The Guardian (as linked from Nedostup’s article), says:

Clitoris activism is hot in France right now. The feminist group Osez Le Féminisme has been vocal in combatting the silence around it since 2011. While in Nice, a group of sex-positive feminists, Les Infemmes, has created a “sensual counter culture” fanzine called L’Antisèche du Clito or The Idiot’s Guide to the Clit. There are funny drawings of “Punk Clit,” “Dracula Clit” and “Freud Clit”, as well as facts about the organ.

When it comes to getting real information to children, especially pre-adolescent children, most people in the United States find the idea almost impossible to wrap our brains around — and even many sex-positive U.S. residents find the idea disturbing as well. My own position is that correct, detailed knowledge is always better than myths and old men’s tales, and I’m excited by what’s happening in France:

A recent report from Haut Conseil à l’Egalité, a government body responsible for gender equality, found that sex ed in public schools still teaches that boys are “focused on genital sexuality”, but girls “attach more importance to love.” Of course, scientists have known for years that boys and girls are both super into genital sexuality.

Fillod feels that her creation will help French girls understand their own bodies and overcome the stigmas against female sexuality that they’re taught by society/school/advertising/men/women/everyone.

We can only hope. Obviously a woman of radical ideas, Fillod took this one one step further by making the files for her printed clitoris open-source, i.e., available to anyone for free.

 Because of that generous decision, French elementary and middle schools will start using the model as a teaching aid starting in September.

Neither article says whether this is in some French schools or all French schools, or how the French public is reacting. I know that in the U.S., we are so confused and retrograde about teaching sex and sexuality that it’s almost impossible to imagine elementary school kids of any gender playing with a lifelike clitoris (or penis or vulva) for any purpose, let alone to understand “the realities of sex.” I will be watching this story to see if there’s backlash in France, and how it plays out.

In all probability, it will not lead to The Onion‘s satirical fantasy:

The Robert Mapplethorpe Children’s Museum officially opened its doors to the public Tuesday, drawing over 1,000 visitors with its interactive exhibits and youth-oriented activities aimed at making the photographer’s signature nude, explicit art more fun and accessible for younger generations. …

“Robert always wanted his work to affect the broadest possible audience, and by introducing children to the wonders of the human form and hardcore homoeroticism at a young age, we hope to instill a lifelong appreciation for his art,” said head curator Eileen Greco, dressed in the standard leather bondage harness worn by all Mapplethorpe Children’s Museum guides. “This museum is a celebration of everything Robert loved—from muscular male thighs to nylon cords wrapped tightly around one’s own scrotum—and our interactive exhibits make it fun for even the youngest child to explore and enjoy these themes.”

But it is kind of fun to imagine …