Sarah Barmak's book uses a blend of reportage, interview and first-person reflection to explore female sexuality.

Sarah Barmak

We think of the modern woman as sexually liberated — if anything, we're told we're oversexed. Yet a striking number of women are dissatisfied with their sex lives. Over half of women report having a sexual complaint, whether that's lack of desire or difficulty reaching orgasm. But this issue doesn't get much press; the urge is to ignore or medicalize it (witness the quest for 'pink Viagra'). If so many ordinary women suffer from sexual frustration, then perhaps the problem isn't one that can be addressed by a pharmaceutical fix — or isn't a problem. Maybe we need to get hot and bothered about a broader cultural cure: a reorienting of our current male-focused approach to sex and pleasure, and a rethinking of what's 'normal.'

Using a blend of reportage, interview and first-person reflection, journalist Sarah Barmak explores the cutting-edge science and grassroots cultural trends that are getting us closer to truth of women's sexuality. Closer reveals how women are reshaping their sexuality today in wild, irrepressible ways — and redefining female sexuality on its own terms. (From Coach House Books)

From the book

The ladies trickle, slowly and tentatively, into the sex shop. Rather than turning right through the main door toward the sales floor's hot-pink vibrators and tattooed staff, they keep left, climbing a narrow staircase into a little carpeted attic. They shake rainwater off their umbrellas and find seats in the circle of chairs, scooting around each other and mumbling excuse mes and sorrys. They look shyly at their laps, poke at their phones. One floor above the array of silicone toys promising advanced pleasure to the adventurous, these fifteen or so women aged twenty to sixty are here on a much braver quest: to learn how to have an orgasm. For nearly all, it will be their first one.

From Closer by Sarah Barmak ©2016. Published by Coach House Books.