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Book review: Me Sexy is campy, outlandish, fun and impactful


The question that I ask of every book of non-fiction I read is: why now? Particularly if you, like me, are picking up a book whose writers were sharing their thoughts with the world as it was almost 20 years ago.

It is already a rare moment if a book speaks interestingly about the thoughts and feelings and political movements that shape our daily lives at the time of its release. To find a book that does so years later is special.

Me Sexy: An Exploration of Native Sex and Sexuality, compiled and edited by Drew Hayden Taylor, is one of those weird, wonderful, and highly suspect finds at the local Co-op that I whisked away on a whim and ended up finishing the next day. From 2008 (a time of economic and social unrest) to 2024 (also a time of economic and social unrest) this collection of poetry, essays, art, fiction and self-reflection holds a microscope to our culture and assumptions — particularly about our perceptions of the intersection between sex, sexuality and Indigeneity.

This anthology collects the work of many dynamic, multifaceted Indigenous writers from the USA to Greenland to the NWT, including the late Marius P. Tungilik, who was one of the voices that spear-headed the movement in the late 1980s towards publicly disclosing and reckoning with the ongoing legacy of sexual abuse in residential schools. In a piece of direct, thoughtful and impactful writing, Tungilik discusses how elements of physical and sexual abuse deeply affect emotional, spiritual and cultural growth and communication. Speaking from his experience growing up and working in Nunavut and the NWT, he clearly outlines the ways in which that abuse is built into the systems of oppression that still target Indigenous people in the North and globally.

This anthology lets a wide range of celebrated Indigenous authors speak on sex and sexuality, while staying true to why Taylor put together this project — for the fun of it all. With a dramatic and sentimental front cover featuring a swooning couple that I have until now only expected to see on the cover of bodice rippers and a title like Me Sexy, this anthology feels so unserious that it is almost hard to write about. This feeling of levity and energy created by its cover and title is carried throughout this anthology in the contributions from Drew Hayden Taylor, Tomson Highway, and Lee Maracle among others. At the same time, this collection’s funny and cutting social critique balances out the sobering realities it discusses with the same time-tested effect of a spoonful of sugar.

Campy, outlandish, fun and impactful, this book vaulted into my arms from 2008. With the diversity of content you’d typically only find in a zine, this anthology combines academic essays, poetry, personal stories, fiction and notes on Indigenous scholarship and storytelling. With something for everybody, as well as at least one story worth skipping and a few worth reading ravenously for every detail, Taylor did something truly phenomenal in bringing together some of the most interesting thinkers of our century in an anthology that still feels fresh and relevant.