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Jillian Keenan’s Sex With Shakespeare is a revelation. I’ve been active in kink for over a decade now and have done a lot of reading along the way. Sex with Shakespeare is the first book in a long time that actually taught me something about myself, my sexuality, and my fetishes. It is also one of very few books in which BDSM is discussed that doesn’t make me want to write to the author to tell them what they got wrong and why it’s dangerous.
Without divulging too much, the book is about Keenan’s journey to find, understand and accept a sexuality that does not revolve around sex. I am a masochist and a spanko and I felt very seen in many parts of the book. My journey is not her journey but we have many intersections on the path.
Keenan covers many subjects, disability, fetishes, sexual assault, etc, and she covers them with care and understanding. Her rather amazing story is woven around a backdrop of Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets with participation from an interesting cast of characters.
Keenan, we learn, is a CSA survivor. She was also spanked as a child. She is clear that, given her sexuality, spanking was the more egregious intrusion for her. Keenan talks about how spanking a child is child sexual assault, “By the time I was 3 years old, I was a fetishist, and spanking, to me, was a sex act more penetrative than sex. From that point on, for me, nonconsensual spankings were unintentional sexual assaults. I experienced them as such.”
Keenan is not the only one to experience spankings as sexual assault but even for those who don’t, it still needs to be recognized that the butt is widely regarded as a potentially sexual body part. Because spanking children is not widely recognized as a sex act, it is still promoted in certain fundamentalist Christian groups as the correct way to punish a child. This is where sadists with no education on how to ethically and consensually work out their fetish, get to exercise it on those who can’t fight back.
While I do have to be responsible and say that this book is really meant for adults, I honestly feel almost anyone can get something out of this book, especially if you are a fetishist and Shakespeare fan. If you are just beginning the journey of navigating adult sexual relationships or you’ve been doing it for years, there is something in this book for you. I’m not a hugger in general, but this book makes me want to hug the stuffing out of Jillian Keenan and thank her so much for writing a book I needed so badly.