Sarah Barmak is a Toronto freelance journalist, author and feminist deeply interested in sexuality, gender, women’s health and the places where sexuality intersects with social justice.
Her first book, Closer: Notes From the Orgasmic Frontier of Female Sexuality, was published in 2016 by Coach House Books and is now in its third printing. Sarah was shortlisted for Kobo’s 2017 Emerging Writer Prize. Closer has been nominated for the 2017 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish Literature and was named one of the Best Books of 2016 by the CBC, The Globe & Mail, The National Post, and Quill & Quire. Sarah writes regularly about sex for The Walrus magazine. She gave an acclaimed TEDxToronto talk, ‘Women’s Sexuality Isn’t ‘Complicated’,’ based on her book in 2016, and spoke at the 2017 PEN World Voices Festival in New York City.
Sarah teaches and mentors freelance journalists at The University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs, in the Fellowship in Global Journalism program. She designed and teaches a workshop called The Sex Myth Detox with Costa Rican yoni yoga instructor Natrishka Pather that helps women and female-identified people rid themselves of toxic sexual narratives inherited from our culture.
Sarah hails from Thornhill, Ontario and holds a B.A. in philosophy and an M.A. in cinema studies at the University of Toronto. While at U of T she served as news editor and Editor-in-Chief of The Varsity student newspaper. She interned at The Toronto Star and Canadian Business, and her writing has appeared in VICE, The Hairpin, Maclean’s, The Globe and Mail, The Toronto Star, Chatelaine and Canadian Business, among other places.
Sarah contributed a chapter on historical poisoning cases to Eat It!, an anthology about women and food. She once gave a Trampoline Hall lecture on the homoeroticism of UFC wrestling. She lives with her husband and their many books in Toronto. She likes dancing and writing about herself in the third person.
Click here to see some of her recent articles.
A provocative look at why our current understanding of female sexuality isn’t getting us off.
We think of the modern woman as sexually liberated – if anything, we’re told we’re oversexed. Yet a striking number of women are dissatisfied with their sex lives. Over half of women report having a sexual complaint, whether that’s lack of desire or difficulty reaching orgasm. But this issue doesn’t get much press; the urge is to ignore or medicalize it (witness the quest for ‘pink Viagra’). If so many ordinary women suffer from sexual frustration, then perhaps the problem isn’t one that can be addressed by a pharmaceutical fix – or isn’t a problem. Maybe we need to get hot and bothered about a broader cultural cure: a reorienting of our current male-focused approach to sex and pleasure, and a rethinking of what’s ‘normal.’
Using a blend of reportage, interview and first-person reflection, journalist Sarah Barmak explores the cutting-edge science and grassroots cultural trends that are getting us closer to truth of women’s sexuality. Closer reveals how women are reshaping their sexuality today in wild, irrepressible ways: nude meetings, how-to apps, trans-friendly porn, therapeutic vulva massage, hour-long orgasms and public clit-rubbing demonstrations – and redefining female sexuality on its own terms.