Along with Judy Blume and Letters to Penthouse Forum, the original The Joy of Sex was the cornerstone of my unofficial early sex education. I can still see those watercolor drawings of the hairy bearded guy and his almost-as-hairy lady friend making sweet, sweet luv on every other page.
A new less-hairy edition of the book, revised by Susan Quilliam, a British sexologist, advice columnist and relationship counselor, is coming out next month in the US. So why in this day and age do we still need The Joy of Sex?
"People desperately need help in negotiating the culture’s bewildering sexual messages. As pervasive as sex is, society seems just as ignorant and nervous about it as ever.
And who could blame people for being confused, bombarded as they are by explicit images, impossible expectations and contradictory, alarming information from an ever-expanding array of media promoting the notion that everyone should be having amazing, contortionistic sex all the time.
Particularly if they get their information from the Internet, as teenage boys increasingly do."
And let's not forget that the original book was a product of its time, with only three references to the clitoris.
“He had a section on tactful ways to take a woman’s virginity. He had a section called ‘frigidity.’ I’m sure he was a lovely man, but he said that most men, given a young and attractive partner, can always get it up — it’s only when a woman lets herself go that he has a problem. And you’re going, ‘No, no, no!’ But that is what it was like then.”
Dr. Comfort said, too, that another part of the female genitalia, the vulva, was “slightly scary” to many males.
But here's one disturbing update for the times:
The Kinsey Institute says that contemporary women have less sex than their 1950s counterparts because they have so little uncommitted time.