I’m lying on the living room floor, rereading my favorite fantasy novel. In the opening scene, the hero and heroine do lots of kissing—and more. I feel a heaviness in my lower belly…and below. My whole body tingles with alertness.
Suddenly, I hear the garage door open. I gulp air into my lungs. I can’t name this feeling. I don’t know if others can see I’m feeling it. Whatever it’s called, I know you aren’t supposed to let others know that you’re feeling it.
As far back as I can remember, I intuited that sex was shameful.
This, despite having a mom who casually answered my questions about boners in the car after church. Who was the “cool mom” all of my friends turned to for advice about relationships. Who didn’t blink when friends—mine and hers—came out.
Society. School. Religion. Big ass forces to be reckoned with.
My friend and colleague August McLaughlin understands the power of these force: she’s battled them, and she’s won.
The result is her Girl Boner empire (she’ll probably tell me that’s not the right word but I can’t think of a more fitting one). A podcast, website, and, as of this week (hurray!), book “designed for every ‘good girl’ (and everyone else) looking to embrace pleasure and fuller lives.”
Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment made me laugh, cry, cringe, and, yes, get turned on.
Reading it feels like you’re chatting with your bestie over drinks. You expect a lot of laughs, some sass, and honest advice. Girl Boner gives you all of that and more.
Here’s the official description:
In a culture where female empowerment is used to sell everything from sex toys to soap, most sex education continues to bypass pleasure. The results are stark―we’ve grown accustomed to slut- and prude-shaming and allowed others to dictate how a “good girl” is meant to feel, act, and look.
In Girl Boner: The Good Girl’s Guide to Sexual Empowerment, August McLaughlin offers an unfiltered blend of personal narrative and practical tips on relationships, solo play, journaling, gender issues, and more. From the perks of “Jilling off” to the 7 types of ‘gasms, Girl Boner will “empower you to own your sexual self and enjoy … your whole life a great deal more.”
So, what exactly is a girl boner? We dare you to find out.
The book blends August’s personal stories, expert advice (spoiler: you’ll see a name you recognize in there!), and top-notch research.
This makes it fun and easy to read, even as it teaches you. By the end, you’ll have a boatload of new sexy ideas to try, and a whole lot less shame around your desires, your body, and your relationship(s).
My favorite chapter is on sex and religion. August shares stories from a gay priest, a Christian erotica writer, a Muslim sex therapist, and more. She doesn’t diminish the fact that religion can cause sexual shame, but she acknowledges and shows that another way is possible. Sex and religion don’t have to be at odds, both personally and systemically. As someone who’s grew up Catholic, I’m still surprised at the acceptance of my work by my current religion. That’s why I chose Unitarian Universalism, but old habits die hard…
The other part of Girl Boner that hit home is the connection that August highlights between sexuality and mental health.
As she healed from her eating disorder, she regained access to her sexuality. In turn, finding freedom in pleasure helped her heal. Throughout the book, you’re reminded that sexual healing is a thing. She doesn’t ignore that sex can be harmful, but instead presents a nuanced view and suggestions to tap into its power OR how to get help to heal its power over you.
In many ways, Girl Boner reminds me of my bible, Come As You Are (no surprise since the latter informed both my comments in and the science of the former). But it’s even more fun and easier to read. I can’t wait to gift and recommend it to counseling clients. To quote it during workshops. To return to the many dog-eared pages.
former “good girl” and resident vanilla sex educator, I still grapple with the idea that my sensuality isn’t safe. I still stumble when asked, “what do you do?” I still question if there’s something wrong with me for caring this much about sex.
August’s book is a balm to all that, a big ass permission slip, reminding us that good girls deserve Girl Boners too.