Sex on the Square: Sex-positive media to consume over break

If you find yourself with some spare time over winter break, check out these TV shows, movies, podcasts and books to learn more about sex and sexuality.

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Aaliya Luthra

(Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Rachel Fadem and Shreya Tomar

Winter break is approaching, and for those not taking January classes, it can be a great time to catch up on all of the things you want to do — including consuming sex-positive media. Shows like “Sex Education” and “The Sex Lives of College Girls,” which have garnered large audiences, are great places to begin, but we want to offer more diverse sex-positive media options. Whether you like watching movies and TV shows, listening to podcasts or reading books, this list has it all. 

TV shows 

“Mrs. Fletcher”

After dropping her son, Brendan, off at college, single mom Eve finds herself now free at home to discover her erotic curiosities — namely through porn. Brendan, on the other hand, is forced to reflect on his toxic masculinity and society’s standards of sex as he navigates college. This seven-episode series will not only inspire you to reflect on your sexual boundaries but will also remind you that sexual exploration is a never-ending journey. Stream the show on Amazon Prime.

“Masters of Sex” 

“Masters of Sex” follows the lives of sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson at Washington University in St. Louis, where they spearhead research on human sexuality. While mostly fictional, this series is a great way to learn about the science of healthy sexuality and to hear honest and scientific discussions about orgasms, pleasure and sex toys. Stream the show on Amazon Prime.

“Lust”

Add “Lust” to your watch list for a fresh perspective on women’s sexuality. This fictional Swedish series highlights the journey of four women struggling to find satisfaction in their relationships and sex lives. The candid, comedic plot allows people of all ages to relate to the challenges of being stuck in unhealthy and disappointing sex lives. Stream the show on HBO Max.

An illustration of a desk with a monitor displaying the Netflix logo. A microphone is propped up on the left side. Three books are stacked on the right side, titled “Come As You Are,” “American Hookup,” and “Girls and Sex, Boys and Sex.”
(Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Movies

“Donde caben dos” / “More the Merrier”

Five different stories lead up to a night at a swinger’s club. Full of sexual possibilities and unconventional intimate dynamics, the movie explores the complexities of the pursuit of pleasure and self-discovery. This is a great watch if you’re looking to learn more about non-monogamous relationships including swinging and polyamory. Stream the show on Netflix. 

“Good Luck To You, Leo Grande”

Nancy Stokes, a widow and retiree, hires a sex worker in the hopes of spicing up her unfulfilling sex life. “Good Luck To You, Leo Grande” offers a glimpse into the lives of sex workers, and fights the stigma against the promotion of the female orgasm. Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack’s brilliant performances will encourage you to explore new sexual experiences and discover the importance of maximizing pleasure. Stream the show on Hulu.

“Lust Stories” 

This Indian anthology film packs four awkward, honest and witty fictional narratives about sexual desires and how challenging it can be to turn fantasies into reality when surrounded by shame and fear. The viewpoints of the four different women examine the concepts of relationship power dynamics, communication, arranged marriage, morality and unfulfilling sexual experiences. Stream the show on Netflix.

Podcasts 

“Sex with Emily”

“Sex with Emily” is a great podcast for those looking for something both fun and educational. Emily Morse is a sex therapist and author and has been called the Dr. Ruth of a new generation. On her podcast, Morse answers questions about sex and sexuality and shares her expertise in the hopes of destigmatizing conversations around sex.

“Sex and Psychology”

In just under half an hour, social psychologist Justin Lehmiller piles together the comprehensive sex education you never had. This podcast is a great introduction to the psychology of sex and relationships while providing practical advice along the way. College is the first space for many of us to explore our sexualities, and learning constructive ways to do so can result in improved well-being.

“Normalizing Non-Monogamy” 

If you want to learn from others’ sexual and relationship experiences, this podcast should be on top of your podcast playlist. Emma and Fin, a non-monogamous married couple, chat with new guests every episode to welcome fresh and original stories about navigating non-monogamy.

“Girls & Sex” and “Boys & Sex” by Peggy Orenstein and “American Hookup” by Lisa Wade are stacked on a wooden desk.
(Kevin Wu for WSN)

Books

“Come as You Are” by Emily Nagoski

Focusing on female sexuality, this book is the perfect gateway to learning about the latest scientific research on arousal and desire. Emily Nagoski brings readers into contact with her clients and students’ personal experiences with negative emotions affecting their sex drive, and helps readers understand that everyone’s sexuality is unique. 

“Girls & Sex” and “Boys & Sex” by Peggy Orenstein 

Peggy Orenstein talks to teenagers, young adults and psychologists to dive into the complicated world of adolescence, sex and sexuality. Orenstein covers a range of topics such as porn, pleasure, hookup culture, queerness, and virginity to gain an understanding of what it means to grow up in a world that is more open about sex than previous generations.

“American Hookup” by Lisa Wade

In American Hookup, sociologist Lisa Wade talks to undergraduate students about sex culture on their campuses. She uncovers that college students are actually having less sex than people assume, but that hookup culture seems to be controlling people’s lives. While some of the content is likely outdated due to COVID-19, “American Hookup” is still a great read, especially for an NYU student who may encounter different sexual experiences than those at more traditional colleges and universities. 

Next semester, Sex on the Square plans to tackle a range of topics. To send us your questions or experiences for future articles, fill out this form.

Contact Rachel Fadem and Shreya Tomar at [email protected]