A Mini Review: The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex

Each member of my school’s sexual health education group was given a summer reading assignment. Mine was a lengthy one: The Good Vibrations Guide to Sex, by Cathy Winks and Anne Semans. Though I haven’t read the book in its entirety (come on guys, it’s long, and the book itself is HUGE), I have read enough sections to truly sing its praises.

Image courtesy of Amazon.com

I was particularly impressed with this edition’s 20 page chapter on masturbation. While most sex manuals give a nod to masturbation, Semans and Winks literally devote an entire chapter to it. They do a lovely job of making the material reader-friendly. The text is a combination of readers’ sentiments, historical context, masturbation tips and tricks, and personal stories.

The authors do a great job of breaking down the taboo that seems to go hand in hand (pun intended) with masturbation. Here are a few interesting tidbits that I learned from the section:

  • Masturbation – or at least genital self-touching – starts young; ultrasound images have shown that fetuses touch their genitals while in the womb
  • It wasn’t until 1972 that the American Medical Association declared masturbation a normal sexual activity
  • There are references to masturbation in the Bible
  • According to Chinese Taoist principle, sexual energy is gender-biased. A female’s “yin” energy is infinite, but a man’s “yang” energy can be exhausted, so men are taught to control ejaculation

I found that as I reader, I felt very much at ease reading this section. I would highly recommend this particular chapter to anyone that has ever felt that masturbation is wrong or taboo. If anything, it will remind you that you aren’t alone, and that masturbating is kind of like picking your nose- everybody does it, but nobody likes to talk about it. Of course the book is good for more than just this chapter, and I will keep you all updated as I read more!

You can also read more about masturbation in The Big Book of Masturbation by Martha Cornog.

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About Michaela


Michaela is a recent Seven Sisters graduate with a self-designed degree in Sexuality Studies. When she's not blogging, you'll find her teaching Health and Wellness and A Cappella to high school students, helping women find properly fitting bras, and working as an editor on a documentary. She hopes to continue her education one day with a PhD in Feminist Anthropology.

  • Julie

    Winks and Semans…really? That aside, love you, Mickey.

  • Michaela

    Ironic, right? :)

  • Kate McCombs

    I love this book! I also read it for my university’s sex education group. It was, by far, my favorite required reading assignment from college.

  • http://askgarnet.com Garnet Joyce

    The Good Vibes Guide is one that I recommend often. It’s one of my faves because it feels more inclusive than a lot of other sex guides out there. This is partly because the pictures show more varieties of body types than other books that tend to mostly show athletic, pretty, white heterosexuals. And also partly because it doesn’t feel so othering when discussing sexuality that is outside of the norm. Many sex guides assume that the reader is not LGBT or into BDSM and write about those things as if they are teaching the reader something about which they know nothing and aren’t actually interested in for themselves.

  • Michaela

    I agree. This seems to be the first mainstream sex manual that isn’t just LGBT friendly, but almost equally geared towards LGBT couples/sex.

  • Debby Herbenick

    Yes, this is one of my most-recommended books. In the same vein, I like Moregasm and the photos of so many different women and men throughout the pages. Having published a book myself, I know it’s challenging to get images into a book at all, let alone such inclusive ones. Both are beautiful and smart books.