Editor India Knight captures some of the quintessential one-handed reads of our teen years, along with the feeling of what it was like to be curious and excited about the new adventure of sex.


Did anyone ever really learn about sex from that Miracle of Life video in health class or the terribly awkward “birds and bees” talk from our parents? Of course not. Our dude friends had their moms’ Victoria’s Secret catalogs and that infamous pool scene from Wild Things. And we had Judy Blume’s Forever and Pauline Réage’s The Story of O. What editor India Knight captures in The Dirty Bits for Girls is not only some of the quintessential one-handed reads of our teen years but also, as she writes in the introduction, the “sense of what it was like being aged 13 to 17, virgo intacta and ravenously curious about sex, reading by torchlight after lights out, amazed, with all our adult life ahead of us.” She includes classic erotic excerpts like the “zipless fuck” fantasy from Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, where two strangers fondle each other in the semi-darkness of a train tunnel, and the passage from Delta of Venus by Anaïs Nin in which an artist’s model learns about the advantages of strong pelvic floor muscles. Sure, these passages are meant to get you hot and bothered, but The Dirty Bits does more than that. Knight recalls, “We didn’t just lie about reading these books and giggling, or gawping, or both: we were awakened by them to an entire world of sexual and emotional possibilities—and not least, to the notion of female solidarity.” So invite a few lady friends over, read some “dirty bits” aloud, and let these juicy stories relaunch you into the incredible adventure that was your sexual awakening.

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