Ever been curious about female sexuality? Allison Moon covers all the questions you had about your body (and some you didn’t even know you had!) in Girl Sex 101. Check out our interview with the author here.
For readers who may not know, what is Girl Sex 101 and what inspired you to write it?
Allison Moon: Girl Sex 101 began as a workshop at Burning Man. A dozen queer women huddled in a dome during a dust storm and talked about pleasure, our bodies, and questions we had. I saw there was a need for honest, frank information about queer women and our relationships. So I started teaching the workshop around the country. But there’s only so far a live workshop can reach, and there are women all over the world who need this information. So I wrote Girl Sex 101 to reach them.
Thanks to the dedication of several women, this book is fully trans inclusive. Why do you think this and inclusivity in general is an important part of sex education and writing?
AM: My job as a sex educator isn’t to act as a bouncer to various sexual and gender identities. My job is to give solid information to as many people as I can. As a queer, I’m used to feeling ignored by mainstream sex-education and texts. Trans women are even worse off, let alone trans dykes. I wanted to help fill the void of affirming, pleasure-based sex-ed for trans women, but I also wanted to bridge the awkward, insidious gap between cis and trans queer girls. I needed to make it clear that if you want to get down with other ladies, regardless of what they’re packing in their panties, this book is for you.
What is one lesson you’ve learned while writing Girl Sex 101?
AM: Diversity and variety are really what define sex. I can give you anatomy lessons and communication tools until we’re both exhausted, but the only person who’s a true expert in pleasing you is you. Your job is to do as much Research and Development as possible to become the expert you were born to be.
What are your hopes for the future of sex education?
AM: That we keep talking. All of us. About what turns us on, what turns us off, when we’re a yes, when we’re a no. I want consent to become easy and universal, instead of scary and fraught. I want everyone to feel like their voice matters and can help inform the rest of us. I want sex ed to be honest, fact-based, and welcoming. I want schools to understand that kids need answers, not doctrine or moralizing. Fact-based sex ed makes for an informed and healthy populace. If we want to reduce shame, stigma, abuse, and abortion, fact-based sex education is the key.
Can you describe one of your proudest moments since writing this book?
AM: It warms my heart how many trans girls are speaking up about how important this book is to them. I had anxiety about whether I’d hit the mark. But I have so many women tweeting me and emailing me about how included and seen they feel. It makes me feel like I did something right.
What’s one of your biggest challenges in writing/publishing, and how did you overcome it?
AM: The hardest part is balancing commerce and passion. If I had my druthers, I’d write all day every day. I’d write screenplays, novels, non-fiction, essays, short stories, plays, every single one of the dozens of ideas I have rattling in my head. But I also have to pay rent, buy groceries, and all the normal stuff of every day life. Girl Sex 101 has been selling well in the four months it’s been out, which makes me so grateful. But there’s always the hustle, and the hustle slows down the fun part of the work.
What do you hope people will gain from reading your book?
AM: I hope that folks will see themselves— their identities, their proclivities, etc— reflected back at them. Female sexuality is still too often vilified, while queer female sexuality is marginalized and exotified. I want women to see themselves centered in the narrative so that they can be more empowered to create more pleasure and honesty for themselves and their partners.
Why do you think Girl Sex 101 is an important read for ladies? What sets your book apart from other sex-ed books and resources?
AM: Well, other than the trans-inclusive aspect, which is really unprecedented in sex-ed books, I think this book is far more playful and readable than a lot of other sex ed books on the market. I wrote the kind of book I wish I had when I was a baby dyke, full of pictures, silly jokes, and no-nonsense advice. I think Girl Sex 101 appeals because of that— I talk like a big sister, not a doctor or sex-therapist. I think it makes readers more keen to listen and not feel judged.
Do you have any advice for other women looking to become authors?
AM: Write all the time. Study the market. See how you can fit your creations into it. Don’t be ashamed of banging your own drum. Hustle. Be kind to other people both on the internet and off of it. Your readers are gold. Treat them as such.
There’s a closed-door quality to traditional publishing that doesn’t resonate with me. Because of all the polishing big publishers do before a book ever sees the world, it creates the illusion that perfect books spring full-formed from the minds of authors. But that’s just not the case. I think this does a disservice to the rest of us author plebes, who have rough edges and awkward syntax. Don’t be afraid if that’s you. Keep writing, keep supporting other women writers, and put your shit out there.
Tell us more about the other books you have written. How do you think your writing style and experience has changed over the years?
AM: I’m a kinesthetic learner. I need to make something to learn how to make it. So my first novel, Lunatic Fringe, is clearly a first novel— all the passion and overwrought metaphors included. The sequel, Hungry Ghost, is more confident, less flowery. Bad Dyke was an experiment in direct storytelling. Telling the story efficiently in fun bite-sizes.
Girl Sex 101 is me at my most conversational. I read for craft now, learning how authors get their points across while maintaining their individual styles. Now I’m working on two screenplays, so I’m watching movies for beats and plot points more than I used to. I’m more deliberate in my consumption of media, which makes interacting with art forms more dynamic.
Is there something specific that sparked your interest in your field?
AM: My dad is a nurse and my mom is a feminist, so I was the precocious kid in Catholic school who taught my peers the proper anatomical names for stuff. I loved being a sex oracle for my peers, and that love never waned. As I learned about things (menstruation, masturbation, STIs, orgasm, relationships, etc.), I was the one sharing that info with my peers.
Part of me wishes there wasn’t such a dire need for people like me, but as I travel the country, I realize how few people had friends who helped counteract their incomplete or incorrect sex education. Now what began as a passion has become a mission.
Do you have any advice for young girls in terms of exploring female sexuality?
AM: You are not broken. You are not gross. There are plenty of voices ready to tell you that you are too much, too sexual, too gross. These people are wrong. They are scared. Female sexuality is terrifying to the status quo. Because it is a great source of strength and power. Not in being sexy and consumable for men, but being self-possessed, independent, and capable. I know this might sound a little woo, but it’s the truth. There’s nothing scarier to the status quo than a woman who doesn’t need products, fashion, or a man to complete her. Strive to be that woman. The world needs you.
Cover image courtesy of Isabel Dresler.