It might be a bit premature, being that it is only April, but I think I’ve found my favorite book on my reading list for 2021 – Not Always in the Mood by Sarah Hunter Murray.
As a sexuality counselor and educator (in supervision), sexuality is a focus topic for me – in reading, conversation, and thought, personally and professionally. It is a fascinating amalgam and intersection of all.the.things – biology, tissue/medical health, culture & socialization, systems of oppression (racism, heterosexism, sexism, ableism, ageism, sizism), relationships, body acceptance, etc, and yet, most people are not comfortable talking about it or examining their own beliefs and biases around their sexuality and these bias implications. And when we do examine bias, many of those conversations center cis gender women.
This book is different – here Murray (author and researcher) examines the sexuality of cis-gender men. She dissects harmful beliefs we all have around men’s sexual behavior that perpetuates harmful biases and sexual scripts. Some examples: the idea that men want to be the primary initiators of sex in their intimate relationships, that men aren’t hurt by rejection, that men always want sex, that men don’t care about their partner’s pleasure……and she goes on (support the author and read or better yet, buy, the book).
This book was a refreshing break from much of the soft literature I read about sexuality, even that written by trained sexuality therapists. Again, by placing men under the lens (rather than women), but also in deconstructing inherited beliefs and biases, many of which are rooted in patriarchy and toxic masculinity. Like fish asked to notice water, we can’t even notice what we are immersed in – we have normalized these toxins that we take them for granted and no longer sense them. While I do understand there are some gender differences based in hormones and biology, I personally and professionally believe that the genders are more similar than different and that the differences are inherited and reinforced by our culture (ie the binary of gender isn’t as firm and intractable as we are led to believe). This book does a service to us all by highlighting some of the toxins we have consumed about men as well as pointing out how similar men can be to their female partners in their desires and needs.
A side note: there are problems in sexuality research and that’s that 1) we don’t have much info on non-binary people or 2) non-hetero relationships, in part because of a numbers problem – there are fewer non-binary individuals and heterosexual partnerships are more common. Researchers acknowledge this and are working to gather information for a variety of genders, sexualities, and partnerships. So, while this book is an incredible work regarding the sexuality of cis-men, future research and books will likely assist us all in understanding sexualities across the (non)binary spectrum.
Interested in discussing Murray’s book? We are featuring it for this month’s Let’s Talk About Sex Book Club (4/19 630pm central; free and virtual) – email me to sign up at email@example.com Or watch for my write up after our book club. Also, consider joining us for Pleasure Café – a group for discussing sexuality (4/10, 4pm central; $10 and virtual, in-person coming soon) – email me for registration and payment info. Check out the events tab on my website as well as the book club and café tabs for more information.
The above content is written by Dr. Allison Mitch, PT (DPT); copyright protected, please cite accordingly. The picture is from Pexels. To work with me or for more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org Please consider supporting me and my work on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ignitewellbeing
*Please note that none of the above information is specific medical advice, but are educational resources. If you have concerns about your health, please contact a trusted healthcare professional*