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A Dirty Word
How a Sex Writer Reclaimed Her Sexuality
Steph Auteri
ISBN: 9781627782760
Book (Paperback)
Cleis Press
5 x 8
240 pages
October 1, 2018


“Brave, bold, and utterly unique! A first-rate sex writer, Steph combines personal experience with professional expertise to create a work that is at once illuminating and inspiring” —Ian Kerner, PhD LMFT, author of She Comes First

“A bold, brave, and ballsy look at the secret life of a sex writer post-Carrie Bradshaw.” --Susan Shapiro, bestselling author of Unhooked, Five Men Who Broke My Heart, and The Byline Bible

Steph Auteri is a sex writer. In her 15 years as a journalist, she has reviewed sex toys, attended sex parties, researched sexual health, and even participated in “cuddle parties.” There’s only one small problem: her sex drive is in the gutter.

A beautiful and hilarious mixture of cultural essays and poignant personal stories, A Dirty Word shines a light on what it’s like to feel broken, only to realize that there is no right way to be sexual. From her earliest sexual experiences, Auteri felt there must be something wrong with her. As an adult, her career in sex writing was meant to be a type of shock therapy—a way to fix her “sexual dysfunction.” But her career, exciting as it was, could not provide a roadmap through her struggles with a low libido, painful sex, fertility problems, negative self-image, marriage woes, and the aftermath of sexual assault.

In A Dirty Word, Auteri boldly exposes her own stumbles and triumphs as she explores topics like consent, body image, sex-negativity, and the seeming impossibility of raising a daughter in a culture that is constantly twisting female sexuality to fit its own needs. In the end, Auteri has found peace through one startling realization: she doesn’t need to be “fixed” after all.

Steph Auteri is a writer and editor who has written about women’s health and sexuality for The Atlantic, the Washington Post, VICE, Pacific Standard, Salon, Undark, and other publications. She also volunteers for the Center for Sex Education, the national education division of her local Planned Parenthood. She lives with her husband, daughter, and three cats in Verona, NJ.
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