I never would have guessed that I’d think this about a book on sex, but Peggy Kleinplatz and Dana Ménard’s “Magnificent Sex” is a revelatory book.
I was intrigued about Peggy, a clinical psychologist, sex therapist and researcher, when I saw her work mentioned in a fascinating New York Times article, “The Joys (and Challenges) of Sex After 70”.
That article opened my eyes to the importance of intimacy and sexual relationships beyond the so-called prime years of adolescence and early adulthood, and also to how narrow and exclusionary our cultural views on sex can be. That narrow-mindedness struck me as representative of how our broader conceptions of health and wellness are culturally constructed as well, and defined around a very limited set of human states and experiences: youth, able-bodiedness, heterosexual coupledom, gender identity, neurotypicality, and others.
“Magnificent Sex” summarizes years of research around what Peggy and her team refer to as optimal sexual experiences, and in so doing it shows how solutions to common problems in human sexuality lie where we might least expect to find them – not in conventional notions of physical performance, bodily functioning, or attractiveness - but rather in experiences of marginalization and challenge that demand creativity, courage, and vulnerability and which culminate not only in fantastic sex, but in a form of religious, transcendent experience.
If that all sounds wild, that’s because it is! But by the same token reading Peggy and her team’s work and hearing her speak makes it clear that her findings are very real.
Optimal Sexual Experiences Research Team at the University of Ottawa (includes Peggy's bio and publications)
Peggy's book: "Magnificent Sex: Lessons from Extraordinary Lovers" (with A. Dana Ménard, PhD)
"The Joys (and Challenges) of Sex After 70" (New York Times)
Recorded March 22, 2022
Music: Mr Smith
Art: Jeff Landman