Every Wednesday The CSPH highlights a Sexuality Professional you should keep your eye on. Their backgrounds are very diverse in order to bring attention to the wide variety of amazing people working in the field. This week we bring you Rachel Hills!
1. What do you do in the field of sexuality?
I’m a journalist and author working on a book for Simon & Schuster about sex, love, and identity (to be published first half 2014) – it’s titled The Sex Myth.
2. Where are you based out of?
London, United Kingdom, but my work has been published in the US, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, India, South Africa, Mexico, Italy, Poland and Latvia.
3. What is your focus? What do you do?
I’ve interviewed a couple of hundred teenagers and twenty-somethings about contemporary norms and expectations when it comes to sex and relationships, and how those expectations shape their own self-perception and identity.
As a journalist, I also love keeping abreast of academic research in the sex and gender arena, and coming up with ways to make that work accessible to a mainstream media audience, whether that be Cosmopolitan or The Atlantic.
4. What are your particular goals and passions in the field?
I want to help create a more intelligent, less sensationalist public discourse on sexuality. We talk about sex constantly in our culture, but we don’t often talk about it in a “real”, honest and vulnerable way. When I was younger, I felt like such a misfit when it came to my sex and dating life, because my experiences weren’t reflected in anything I saw and heard. My hope is that people who read my book will walk away feeling less stigmatized and more understood, whether their life history reflects my own, or that of one of the many other people whose stories are featured in the book.
5. Why did you choose to work in this field?
When I was in my late teens and early twenties, I remember reading books such as Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and Germaine Greer’s The Whole Woman and feeling both excited and relief by the way they put my experiences as a young woman into social and political context.
But while there were loads of great feminist and queer theory books on sexuality, I never came across any book that treated sex itself as a cultural and political phenomenon – at least, not written for a popular audience. So basically, I wanted to write the book I would love to have read when I was twenty-two years old.
6. Where did you go for school/training?
I did my undergrad in Media & Communications, Gender Studies and English at the University of Sydney, and am in the final stages of a PhD at the University of New South Wales.
7. Do you have any literature out (websites, articles)?
Loads! I’ve published over 250 articles in various magazines, newspapers and websites, including Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Vogue, The Atlantic, The Sydney Morning Herald, Jezebel and many more. You can read some of them at www.rachelhills.net.
I also have a Tumblr blog, Musings of an Inappropriate Woman (http://rachelhills.tumblr.com), which has over 35,000 subscribers.
8. What would you recommend to future professionals attempting to get into the field?
Think critically and creatively. Listen to people. Do your research.
9. What is the most challenging aspect for you working in this career?
Weaving together so many complex theories and ideas in a manner that is clear and engaging. The ideas I’m working with have been around in academia for ages, but they’ve never been popularized.
10. One must read-what would you recommend? Why?
I’m a big fan of Leonore Tiefer’s Sex Is Not a Natural Act: it’s smart, very readable, and calls to question many of the major cultural assumptions surrounding sexuality.
My portfolio site: www.rachelhills.net
My blog: http://rachelhills.tumblr.com
Like me on Facebook (lots of Sex Myth-related conversations there): http://www.facebook.com/rachelhillswriter/
Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rachelhills