woman reading in a chair sitting in a towel
book cover for women's best erotica of the year volume 5

Writer and Editor Rachel Kramer Bussel invites you to celebrate an early Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day) at Women and Children First to celebrate the release of Best Women’s Erotica of the Year: Volume Five. Join Kramer Bussel and other authors of feminist erotica in a combo anthology reading and party:

“As an editor, I interact with authors remotely, so I love having the opportunity to hear them read their sexy words in person and bring even more life to them. I also think it’s a great chance to celebrate Valentine’s Day (or Galentine’s Day) in a sexy, fun way, either solo or with friends or partners. I’m very excited to hear all of these authors, and especially to have such fascinating queer tales as the historical ‘The Summer of 1669’ by Jayne Renault, about two women’s passion, and a reader favorite, ‘Spin’ by local author Lauren Emily, about two women getting it on while doing an aerialist performance.”

The event is happening this Thursday, February 13th at 7pm.

“If you’re ready for some outrageous sex, you’ve come to the right place,” Kramer Bussel writes at the start of her introduction to the newest anthology.

She asked contributors to go over-the-top with this anthology. As a result, we have stories set in the future and in the 17th century, stories involving presidents, circus performers, and more subtle, riskier topics like age differences. The usual, can’t-go-wrong subjects are there too: swinging, group sex, and soooo much kink.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

First there’s A. Z. Louise’s piece about a plus-size nonbinary character (their partner calls his “enby princex”) that uses loving humiliation play with their partner to get more comfortable wearing sexier (scantier) clothing out in public. There’s ice cream and squirting in the same story, and it’s not about food play.

And on the opposite end of a nonexistent spectrum, Loretta Black writes a truly unique sexy little story about a woman’s encounter with a mermaid. There are a couple of delightful twists in this one.

“I love being taken for a ride, the feeling of losing complete control of my limbs and my senses. My reward is being showered in an ocean of come, then going home and eating a very large pizza, filling me even more, and feeling like such a good whore,” Joanna Angel, an adult film star and director, writes about gang bangs.

Meanwhile, Lauren Emily manages a fingering scene suspended above an unsuspecting audience by two circus performers:

I know from the way the sling pulls, the audience’s oohs, the unobtrusive flash of the camera down below, that you’re extending your leg behind you, a flawless arabesque like you learned in Parisian ballet conservatory with Monsieur Reynard years and years before we met.

Better to distract everyone from your fingers playing lower and lower as my clit hardens, ignoring three layers of thong, thick tights, and iridescent dance trunks.

And, finally, Indian writer Balli Kaur Jaswal writes about a new phone sex operator who finds fulfillment getting paid to feed her own fantasies and empowerment:

Rika doesn’t even hear what she says to him after that, but she knows it keeps him going. For the rest of her shift, she calls to mind all the men who have expected her servitude and silence. One by one, they line up in the room she has constructed. They kneel politely before her, and on her command, they give her what she is owed.

Of course, not every story worked for me. I don’t know about you, but erotica is a tricky subject for me nowadays. Reading about fictional women’s and queer folks’ erotic journeys can be hella tantalizing (like the above stories were for me), but it can also quickly turn uncomfortable. The wrong phrase, thought, or action from a character or their sexual interest can make my sensitive justice-oriented brain wince. Some stories did just that. And then I realized something.

So much about sex, romance, and power dynamics is incredibly subjective. What is empowering to one person remains iffy or just plain dull to another. And it’s often more exciting and more powerful when you’re risking something or playing with a dangerous (often taboo) boundary. Everyone’s boundaries are different.

I think it’s important for each of us to claim what works for us individually. Where I’ve come to find playing with humiliation and degradation—as is portrayed in A. Z. Louise’s story—is ripe with healing potential, other readers just won’t get it. And that’s okay! Skip a few pages forward to enjoy a hotel encounter featuring a man’s wrists bound with a tie.  

This is the beauty of anthologies like this one, which is an eclectic collection of our desires in a world that devalues pleasure. It celebrates the differences of what turns us on. Kramer Bussel does a good job of trying to include a diverse set of voices, with authors and characters representing people of color, queer people, people with disabilities, and people of different ages.

Treat yourself this V Day. Buy the anthology, get it signed by several authors and the editor at Women and Children First, and find your own favorites.

Photo by July Brenda Gonzales Callapaza on Unsplash





Jera writes about sexuality, spirituality, and social justice. They are the author of Just the Tip, a queer-friendly, sex-positive, relationship advice column and the editor of Sacred and Subversive,...