Book review: Come As You Are by Emily Nagoski, Ph.D

This is one of the best books I have read on women and sex in the last five years.

Dr. Emily Nagoski had me hooked in the introduction. “For a long time in Western science and medicine, women’s sexuality was viewed as Men’s Sexuality Lite -- basically the same but not quite as good,” she writes. “For instance, it was just sort of assumed that since men have orgasms during penis-in-vagina sex (intercourse), women should have orgasms with intercourse too, and if they don’t, it’s because they’re broken. In reality, about 30 percent of women orgasm reliably with intercourse. The other 70 percent sometimes, rarely, or never orgasm with intercourse, and they’re all healthy and normal.”

I mean COME ON! I am all-in for this read! I know from over 30 years of working with women that many do not know this fundamental statistic.

Dr. Nagoski is Director of Wellness Education at Smith College. She teaches Women’s Sexuality and is an Educator with a capital “E”! I appreciate her writing style, which is informative but also delightfully sassy and caring -- the combination makes her easy to read. She spells out the science on women and sex in a way you can understand and put to use immediately.

Her mantra is  “You Are Normal,” which is one message so many women need to hear. Also reinforced is the vital role your brain plays as your biggest sex organ, and why. Included within each section are interactive activities, exercises, worksheets, and example stories of both gay and straight women.

Through the research presented, a few things you will learn include: the “partnerships of accelerator and brakes” within sexual response (with ideas about “Turning On the Ons, Turning Off the Off’s”); facts about responsive desire and sexual arousal; and how context (your environment and mental state) influence response. Any one of these concepts might be life-changing for a woman’s understanding of sex and their own body.

Dr. Nagoski’s goal is one I heartily share: “Improve your relationship with your own sexuality.” Amen sister!