Sexual Intelligence


145 pages
Contains Photos, Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 1-55365-105-7
DDC 306.7





Reviewed by Robin Chamberlain

Robin Chamberlain is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster University.


Lavishly illustrated with photographs and reproductions of paintings,
Sexual Intelligence is as visually seductive as its subject matter.
Sadly, the text is not so consistently intriguing. While it is peppered
with interesting and often surprising tidbits—such as the story of the
Cerne Abbas Giant (an ancient 180-foot-tall earthwork figure with a
disproportionately massive phallus)—there is much here that is banal,
particularly in the “insights” provided by ordinary people like the
young man who admits to driving an expensive car to attract women.

The book is divided into five chapters analogous to the stages of
sexual experience: desire, messaging, arousal, fantasy, and release.
Each chapter contains a sometimes disjointed medley of quotations from
average citizens and experts ranging from psychiatric scholar Robert
Stoller to Thomas Moore, who discusses the spiritual aspects of
sexuality. The former group contributes little to improving the
reader’s “sexual intelligence,” and Cattrall’s engagement with
the latter is too cursory to do much more.

Although this book may impart little in the way of “sexual
intelligence,” it does something that is arguably more important: it
emphasizes the beauty of the female (as well as the male) body, as well
as the crucial role of the mind in sexual arousal. The book is filled
with reproductions of nudes, Georgia O’Keeffe paintings, and
photographs from nature that resemble the female form. Catrall also
includes quotations, from experts like Wendy Maltz and Betty Dodson,
encouraging woman to become familiar with their own bodies.

While certainly not contributing to the field of human sexuality
studies, Sexual Intelligence adds to popular understanding of sexuality
and is a welcome antidote to the plethora of exploitive representations
of sexuality.



Cattrall, Kim., “Sexual Intelligence,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,