Smart Podcast, Trashy Books Podcast

186. Come As You Are – Sexuality and Romance: An Interview with Emily Nagoski, PhD

Amanda and Sarah interview Emily Nagoski, who is the New York Times Bestselling Author of Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life, and is currently the Director of Wellness Education at Smith College. She’s a sex educator and also a new romance author whose first book will be out in June.

In the interview, they discuss wellness education for undergraduates, sex education, arousal nonconcordance, what romance gets right – and wrong – about sex, and about the power and rebellion inherent in representing women’s sexuality the way it is. This will be a good amount of NSFW at times, so headphones would be 

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Here are the books we discuss in this podcast:

We mentioned the UK cover of Come As You Are, and here it is:

Book Cover

You can find Emily Nagoski on her website, and find out about her upcoming book, too!

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This Episode's Music

Sketch - shed life - close up of a yakThe music you’re listening to was provided by Sassy Outwater, and you can find her on Twitter @Sassyoutwater. This is a band called Sketch, and this is “Eiggbound” from their album “ShedLife.”

You can find it on Amazon, iTunes, or wherever you buy your most excellent music.

Podcast Sponsor

The Forbidden Wish

This podcast is sponsored by Jessica Khoury, author of The Forbidden Wish, published by Penguin Young Readers and available in print and e-book. A lush, romantic retelling of Aladdin like you’ve never imagined. An all powerful girl Jinni, a handsome boy from the streets and one forbidden wish…love.

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But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

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This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.

Transcript Sponsor

The Moth and the Flame


The Moth and the Flame by Renee Ahdieh is on sale now, a novella connected to her debut, The Wrath and the Dawn — which is also on sale for $2.99 until Sunday, March 27, 2016. We’re hosting an excerpt of the novella, which you can read at

It started as playful, if barbed, banter before rising to a fateful wager with a most notorious rake—the Captain of the Guard, Jalal al-Khoury—who may have finally met his match in a lovely, if haughty, handmaiden, Despina. But she, too, seems to have met her match in the handsome Jalal. What begins as a tempestuous battle of will and wit in short order becomes a passionate affair spurred on by tragedy of the worst kind.

Join us at SBTB to read the excerpt for a taste of this retelling of A Thousand and One Nights.

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Add Your Comment →

  1. Milly says:

    Emily totally nailed it when she said why she reads romance and why she requires a happy ending in her life. I love that. I always say to people who say to me why do you read that?! My favourite response is this: Life is hard – I don’t want my entertainment to be hard. Best podcast ever!

  2. Karenmc says:

    I really, really enjoyed this. I think I have some pre-ordering to do. Also, I sent a link to a friend of mine to make sure she doesn’t miss the talk of Ivory and Kinsale.

  3. Robin says:

    Emily noted toward the end of the podcast: “….When you say something true about women’s sexuality in any context–that is an act of radical political action…” Great quote, can’t wait to read her new book.

  4. SB Sarah says:

    @Robin – that was my favorite quote, too. Amazing how talking about women’s reality is radical. And yet it is – she’s so right.

  5. Kate G says:

    This podcast was fantastic! I really enjoyed reading Emily’s book and listening to your conversation with her just made it all sink in a little more.

    Thanks Sarah, Amanda and Emily for an enlightening and entertaining listen.

  6. Christine says:

    I’ve only gotten to the part where you’re talking about sex ed in schools but wanted to say that I had the bizarre experience recently of opting my freshman daughter out of the sex ed talks because it turned out that the presentations were being given by an organization that is basically a “pregnancy crisis center” where they do their best to “save” women from abortions and believe that the goal of sex ed is to promote people having one lifelong monogamous relationship. Even though the presentation is apparently agenda-free per the P.E. teacher I wrote to, I just… couldn’t let them talk to my kid, you know? I ended up telling him that we were concerned by the lack of sex positivity and felt that the organization’s mission conflicted with our family values. Then it turned out that they canceled the presentations altogether because of some recent legislative changes, so crossing my fingers that whatever new program they come up with is better. If not, I have a lot of good online material bookmarked…

  7. Julia (the one in BC) says:

    This is a general comment 🙂 It’s always hard for me to find a full hour-plus to devote to uninterrupted podcast-listening, so your transcripts are a HUGE godsend. This is my super-heartfelt Thank You to y’all, Smart Bitches, for providing these fabulous, funny podcast transcripts. I always download them (“send to Kindle” via Tinderizer) and read them as soon as time allows. Regrettably I’ve been a bit lazy about returning to sayg how much I specifically enjoyed each, but I’m going to try and be better about that, because I do really appreciate the work and care and love that goes into each and every podcast.

    And I am so stoked that you’ve interviewed the awesome Emily Nagoski!!

  8. Stefanie Magura says:

    I thought of Emily’s reason for reading romance when watching the movie Philomena on the real-life case of Pholomena Lee. If anyone needed a happy ending in her life it was this woman. There are scenes in the movie where she tells the reporter she’s gotten to know while while working on the case of her missing son, the latest romantic story she has read.

  9. SB Sarah says:

    @Julia: Oh, thank you! Garlic Knitter does a superb job, and I’m so happy to hear you like the transcripts. Thank you for saying so!

  10. kkw says:

    The library only has the audio book which is very disappointing because I like reading ever so much more than talking. So this seems like a good time to mention how very very much I love having the transcripts to the podcasts. And I thought this was a particularly stellar podcast.

    Also, am I the only one who now has that old song First I Look at the Purse suck in her head? Amazing book cover.

  11. Julia (the one in BC) says:

    @SB Sarah: You’re most welcome! The transcripts are wonderful and Garlic Knitter is wonderful and glorious for doing them <3

    P.S. I especially love it that the transcripts always reflects the contributions of dogs, cats, parrots etc. to the discussion at hand. Woof woof!

  12. Kareni says:

    Another hearty thank you for providing a transcript of each interview. I enjoyed this episode very much.

  13. garlicknitter says:

    I’m glad people like the transcripts, because I love typing them.

  14. Make Kay says:

    WOW. This is, hands down, the best podcast yet. LOVED IT!!!!!

  15. SQ says:

    Wow, amazing podcast and I’m only halfway through listening. I have to say from reading the description, Come As you are isn’t my type of book, but after listening to this podcast, I can’t wait to pick it up, and I wish I could sit down with Emily and pick her brain about her research and talk about “normal”. I’m glad for the students at Smith that they have her (as a grad from another seven sister).

  16. SQ says:

    Also – now that I’ve heard the second half, as a fellow data/science/research nerd, I can’t wait for her upcoming novels! So much goodness in this podcast!!

  17. Amanda says:

    @Make Kay: Thank you! This makes my morning! I’m glad everyone is enjoying it!

  18. Rissa Brahm says:

    This DBSA podcast session has officially been my favorite of all. It blew my mind.

    First, I can’t wait to dig into Come as You Are (just snagged the audiobook for a long drive ahead…is my ten year old too young to listen along…just kidding, kind of.) Because really, I want her to grasp these “radical 😉 ” ideas! Like I never had the opportunity to in my stifling upbringing (What?—women can come? No shit! Age 19, yeah…19!)

    Next, how crazy, the science behind women’s innate desires, and juxtaposed with society’s imposed stigmas and manipulation (and not the good finger kind!) But also, how amazing that there are educators/authors like Emily and avenues like DBSA/SMTB to help change/open perspectives. I guess I’m psyched that my daughter is reaping the benefits of these messages (no, I’m not going to have her listen to the audiobook with me on our drive, but if Emily has suggestions for what great, honest educational books/sites/unconscious to-dos and not-to-dos etc. for sending the right message/tone early for our daughters??)

    I hope we all start spreading the word, that female sexuality is beautiful. I hope to succeed in doing that in my writing, in my relationships, and again, with my kid.

    BTW I loved Emily’s “accelerator and brake” metaphor for our brain’s dual response mechanisms!

    So onto more awesomeness in my new audiobook! Thankyouthankyouthankyou!

  19. SB Sarah says:

    @Rissa: The whole chapter on accelerator and brake will blow your mind.

  20. Rissa Brahm says:

    Yep. Mind blown.

  21. Great episode! I already wanted to read Come As You Are, but now it has moved up my list. (Also, I can’t see/hear that title without getting the Nirvana song stuck in my head.) This was a great interview and I’m excited to learn that she is also writing romance!

    I’m always surprised at the wide variety of topics that you cover, which is why this has quickly become my favorite podcast. Romance is only a small part of what I read, but as a reader and librarian and human being, I find a lot to think about and read and love in every episode.

  22. Stefanie Magura says:


    Thank you. I started to wonder if I was the only one who had that song stuck in my head. On a more general note, I’m looking forward to reading her romance novels.

  23. Hai says:

    I’m with Amanda in that I never formally learned about sex or how reproduction worked in school. My parents opted me out of all sex ed (strict Catholics) and I switched biology teachers my sophomore year. I had a vague idea of how sex worked via romance, but finally got formal education from Good Vibrations my first year at Mills. I’ve got a hold for Come As You Are with my library and am sure I will learn A LOT.

    I agree that this is an exceptional episode. It’s going into my saved list with Dena Heilik, Marjorie M. Liu, Courtney Milan, and Maya Banks.

    Is there any chance that Jane will make an appearance on an upcoming episode?

  24. Kat says:

    I found the part about opt in/opt out interesting. Organ donation opt out was removed from licence applications a few years ago. I think the state that was doing it had the lowest rate of organ donation because people were opting out at that point rather than individuals or families making a more informed decision when needed.

    Also: Shadowheart!

  25. AmyMac says:

    Really enjoyed Come as You Are and what an excellent Podcast! Perfect pick-me-up after a thesis all-nighter, heh 🙂

    @ Rissa Brahm (and anyone that has a teenage+ person in their life who may be wanting some information about sex or reproductive health) If you want to give your teenager a solid website to explore on their own that has inclusive and evidence-based sex education, I recommend! I told my little sister about it bc she really hates chatting about that stuff and I definitely spent over an hour perusing and reading articles just for fun. Also, somewhat related: Clue is a smartphone app that tracks periods and fertility (plus a whole slew of optional things to monitor like sexual activity, sleep, cravings, moods, cramping, etc). But the best part is the help section, where they have really clear explanations for things (I learned about ovulation pain at age 24, who knew?) and they cite scientific journal articles

  26. LisaJo885 says:

    I sent the link to the podcast to 7 of my girlfriends whose intelligent, rational discourse I admire, and told them they need to listen! When I go to the mainland next week, I’m stopping at a bookstore to pick up Come As You Are, as I think this is a book I’m going to want to hold, and mark up, and share. I’ll pre-order the ebook version of How Not to Fall, though.

    Well done, ladies, keep them coming!

  27. chacha1 says:

    what a great chat that was. 🙂

  28. m&m says:

    This was such an interesting podcast! I really want to read “come as you are”, now!

    Also, just an fyi: You forgot to add “fifty shades” to the list of books discussed. 🙂

  29. SB Sarah says:

    Whoops! I’ll fix that right now – thank you!

  30. greennily says:

    That was the first of your podcasts that I’ve heard, and I actually found it because Emily Nagosky mentioned it on her blog (which I love). And that was my first introduction to Smart Bitches. Now I can’t imagine my life without you, guys, so Emily Nagosky is totally my hero. Like a magical sex-educating Internet fairy godmother! Or Hermione Granger but even cooler. LOL

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