The Joys — And Miseries! — Of ‘Casual Sex’

Despite what we’ve been told by every dusty pamphlet, PSA, alternatively crotchety and wide-eyed middle school teacher, and even porn, there are few things more complicated than sex. Whether it’s the ol’ heteronormative in-and-out (which, don’t get me wrong, is an utterly classic interchange of genitals), queer sex, vanilla loving, or a BDSM roll-around — the accompanying politics are anything but simple.

While we back-clap, boast, and bluster about the innumerable leaps we’ve made in making sex — and all its intricacies — more visible, better understood, and less vilified (hurray, us!), there remains draconian laws (for the love of God, #reclaimRoe) and puritanical attitudes (see: the entire roster of GOP presidential contenders) surrounding just about every facet of our society.

Whatever the source — religion, your mother, a Southern upbringing, media, Photoshop, Penthouse, the Patriarchy — you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn’t have their sexual hang-ups. Or a least a host of largely unanswerable questions. Even self-proclaimed, ostensibly-liberal-as-hell feminists are caught up in a perpetual state of hand-wringing, as well they should be — we’re all pretty screwed up about sex.

So when Jaclyn Friedman approached us about partnering on a new podcast, we thought to ourselves, this is one way we can all get unscrewed. An infamous podcaster, activist, survivor, thought-leader, and gender justice shit-kicker — not to mention the founder of Women, Action, and the Media and the author of two books (her third is forthcoming in 2017) — Friedman was just the gal to help us eviscerate, explore, and hopefully rebuild our sex culture one gleaming quip, insight, and dildo at a time.

For those of you who’ve listened to the Yes Means Yes show — and for those of you who haven’t! — I’m gonna go ahead and say you’re gonna love Unscrewed. In addition to in-depth interviews on topics and perspectives you don’t hear anywhere else on how we can shift our sexual culture, you’ll get new segments, tighter editing, and higher production values.

It’s basically like taking a cupcake that was already perfect — if a bit unwieldy with all that frosting — and making it just as delicious, but easier to stuff in your face.

So without (too much) further ado, we want to quickly serve up some of Friedman’s thoughts on sex and the power of radio on this, the momentous day of her relaunch. (And The Establishment’s 100th day!)

Katie: Why the relaunch? Why with us? Also, I have to come clean and say that I’ve not been, historically, a huge podcast-head. They’ve slowly grown on me, but I know I’m an anomaly. Why use a podcast for the work you do? Why does it resonate with people so much?

Jaclyn: I love podcasts — that’s the easy answer! They are the soundtrack of my life. If I’m doing the dishes or cooking or driving or almost anything else where I don’t have to be composing words myself, I’m listening to podcasts. There’s an immediacy with podcasts, and the ability to do long-form storytelling and to delve deep into complex issues, which I think is hard to come by in print. Also, you’re not just getting to know issues, you’re getting to know people, which again, doesn’t come across in quite the same way in print.

And once I read your mission — about wanting to serve as a conduit and a platform for voices that have been marginalized by mainstream media — I was like, Oh! That’s clearly the home for this show. Because that’s what I’m all about, too.

I think this new [shorter] format really makes these conversations more accessible to a broader group of people — it’s a special listener that gears up for an hour-long unedited interview show. [laughs.]

And also, real-talk. I’d been doing Yes Means Yes on my own for a long time and that’s really hard as a creative person — it had begun to feel kind of lonely. It’s far better to have a partner in crime. It has you thinking about things in a different way — from topics to guests — and it really helps creative percolation. I love creative collaboration.

Katie: And you’re interfacing with all kinds of people! That’s an element I’ve always loved and been envious of with folks who host shows.

Jaclyn: Oh yeah, I love interviewing people! I get to call people up that I know or admire and talk to them about things I’m super interested in.

Katie: There are a lot of different ways people try to fight the good fight, right? We all swing different hammers to try and take down systems . . . so why is sex your hammer? Why is sex at the crux of the power struggle for you?

Jaclyn: Why is this my hammer . . . well, I came to this work through anti-sexual violence work. I’m a survivor, and I’ve been doing anti-sexual violence advocacy since before I was a survivor — all throughout my life. Safety and security are root issues. How can you address sexual violence without addressing the sexual culture? It has to be in context. So I became a student of the sexual culture and the deeply interconnected systems that affect our most personal and intimate experiences of ourselves. How can we be free if we’re not free in our bedrooms? How can we access any of our rights if we aren’t safe in our own bodies?


Is casual sex damaging, delightful, or something different all together? Sex and gender Swiss Army knife S. Bear Bergman joins Jaclyn to tackle the age-old question.


Full new episodes of Unscrewed go live every other Tuesday, with quickiesodes boasting outtakes, advice for listeners who send in their sex/uality questions, and other delectable tidbits airing in between.

Have burning quandaries of your own? Tweet @jaclynf (use #unscrewed) or drop her a line at And yes! You can even use your handy-dandy smartphone, personal computer, or laptop and record yourself asking your question; she may just include it in the next episode.


Lead Image: Flickr / Eddie

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