Release year: 2015

Author: Emily Nagoski

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Link to my handwritten notes


I think this review marks the first time I openly talk about sex on the internet with my name attached to my ideas, so please bare with me as I awkwardly work my way through this review. πŸ˜…

Why is it awkward for me to write this review? I don’t think it has something to do with my own personality, or what I like/dislike in life. I think I was brought up in a culture that was either uncomfortable to talk about sex, or had a way to highlight the wrong ideas. In a way, dialogue about sex reminds me of dialogue about money: I think we are not engaging in it often enough. There are reasons why it feels this way, and yet these reasons remain sort of elusive to me. After all, sex is an important part of life for the majority of humans on this Earth: why are we struggling with this?

I won’t try to answer this question in this review. Let’s just accept to be uncomfortable a bit and move on.

Without going too much into intimate details, this book was a breath of fresh air for me. It helped me put words on feelings and thoughts I otherwise didn’t know how to express. Now, when I have a feeling I feel uncomfortable with, I can use the image of the “sleepy hedgehog” to guide me into completing the associated stress cycle. I also learned about meta-emotions: the emotions you feel when you realize you are feeling a certain emotion (e.g. “You gave me a gift that made me angry. I know it wasn’t your intention, and I hate myself for feeling like that.")

Here’s a fun fact that made me pause. It isn’t the symptoms that predict how much anxiety disrupts a person’s life; it’s how a person feels about those symptoms. (p. 310)

Even though the book is targeted at people who identify as women (the author often says things that assumes the reader is a woman), I can guarantee that you will find something in these pages that can help you think differently about mental issues related to sex, but also related to anxiety, stress, etc. While I was taught about the what and how of sexuality in high school, this book gave me something that was clearly missing from my sexual education: why. As we know from reading Start With Why (Simon Senek) , having a clear why is damn

important, because it shapes how you think about it, which affects what you end up doing.

As most people, I have done a ton of mistakes in my life, including some related to sex. After reading this book, I feel just a smidge more confident that there’s hope for me, and that going forward my rate of mistakes will go down. That alone is enough for me to give this book top ratings:

FΓ©lix rating:

⭐ Star quotes

  1. (p. 93) “I’m chasing you, remember?” he said. “I can’t chase you if you’re moving toward me.”
  2. (p. 146) God and your dog never judge or blame you for having Feels – but neither of them can make love with you.
  3. (p. 165) Self-criticism is one of the best predictions of loneliness.
  4. (p. 166) Far from motivating us to get better, self-criticism makes us sicker.
  5. (p. 180) Never say anything to yourself that you wouldn’t want to say to your best friend or your daughter.
  6. (p. 186) If you hide behind a wall to protect yourself from the pain of rejection, then you also block out joy. If you never let others see the parts you want to hide, then they’ll never see the parts you want them to know.
  7. (p. 232) If sex is a drive, like hunger, then potential partners are like animals to be hunted for food.
  8. (p. 290) Sex is not context dependent. Sex can happen anywhere. Pleasure is context dependent.
  9. (p. 298) Meta-emotions are how you feel about how you feel.
  10. (p. 310) ⭐ It isn’t the symptoms that predict how much anxiety disrupts a person’s life, it’s how a person feels about those symptoms.
  11. (p. 317) If you numb physical pain, healing can still happen. If we try to “numb” emotional pain, we get a break from the pain, but the healing is put on pause, too.