A sex columnist is a writer of a newspaper or magazine column about sex. Sex advice columns may take the form of essays or, more frequently, answers to questions posed by readers. Sex advice columns can usually be found in alt weekly newspapers, women's magazines, health or fitness magazines, and student newspapers. While some are written by trained sexologists, many are penned by people lacking credentials in human sexuality and relationships, yet willing to divulge their opinions or personal bedroom antics.
The television series Sex and the City protagonist Carrie Bradshaw was a sex columnist, which author Candace Bushnell modeled after herself in her original non-fiction book based on a column of the same name. The show, which first aired in 1998, is credited with the increase of sex columnists found in college campus newspapers and blogs, such as at Ivy League colleges and many other schools. One such columnist, Meghan Bainum, at the University of Kansas, Lawrence, placed in the 42nd annual William Randolph Hearst Foundation Journalism Awards Program (2001–2002) for her column.
Anka Radakovich was the first of a new breed of sex columnists for whom "every detail of the writer's psyche is splayed across the page ... confessional journalism at its most intimate". Radakovich had written for the old Details magazine when it was a chronicle of downtown fashion and night life. After James Truman became editor-in-chief and transformed Details into a men’s magazine, he offered Radakovich a column in September 1990. She became the first modern-day magazine sex columnist working for a mainstream men’s publication.
Notable sex columnists
- Isadora Alman, writer of the syndicated sex column Ask Isadora, running in 16 US alternative weeklies since 1984
- Jonathan Bass, "Guy Report" columnist for Unzipped magazine
- Millicent Binks writes the sex column "Up All Night" for the London Evening Standard
- Violet Blue, "Open Source Sex" columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle
- Candace Bushnell, former "Sex and the City" columnist for The New York Observer
- Rachel Kramer Bussel, formerly "Lusty Lady" for The Village Voice, also writes for Penthouse and Penthouse Variations
- Patrick Califia, at that time a lesbian with birth name of Pat Califia, for the former gay men's leather BDSM magazine Drummer.
- Tracey Cox, author of sex books, columnist for Australian Cosmopolitan, iVillage, and many other media displays including television shows
- Anna David, former sex and relationship column for Razor
- Martin Downs, "Carnal Knowledge" columnist for Penthouse and former "Double Exposure" columnist for Penthouse
- Jeannie Greeley, "Sex" columnist for Stuff@Night
- Stacey Grenrock-Woods, current sex columnist for Esquire
- Debby Herbenick, PhD, author and host of "Kinsey Confidential" for Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction; "Sex Professor" columnist for Men's Health magazine; "Ask the Sex Doc" columnist for NUVO (Indiana); former "In & Out" columnist for Time Out Chicago magazine; former "Loveville" columnist for the Louisville Courier-Journal's Velocity.
- Twanna A. Hines, former Blog-A-Log sex and relationships columnist for Nerve
- Dr. Sari Locker, current Maxim sex columnist, former Teen People sex columnist, former Sassy sex advice columnist
- Elise Nersesian, former "Sexier Sex" columnist for Redbook
- Anka Radakovich, current British GQ sex columnist and former Details magazine sex columnist from 1990 to 1999, often credited as the writer who defined the modern-day sex column.
- Chip Rowe, current advisor in Playboy
- Margaret Sanger, author of "What Every Mother Should Know" (1911–12) and "What Every Girl Should Know" (1912–13) for the socialist magazine New York Call, later creator of The Woman Rebel.
- Dan Savage, creator of the syndicated sex column Savage Love
- Amy Sohn, former sex columnist for New York
- Tristan Taormino, former "Pucker Up" syndicated columnist for The Village Voice
- Josey Vogels, "My Messy Bedroom" and "Dating Girl" syndicated columnist
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer, "Ask Dr. Ruth" columnist since the 1980s
Selected university newspaper columnists, past and present
- Meghan Bainum, The University Daily Kansan, University of Kansas (Fall 2001 to Spring 2003)
- Jenna Bromberg, "Bedroom Eyes", The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University
- Lena Chen, The Harvard Crimson and Sex and the Ivy: The Bleeding Heart Nympho's Guide To Harvard Life, Harvard University
- Miriam Datskovsky, "Sexplorations," Columbia Daily Spectator, Columbia University
- Nadia Cho, "Sex on Tuesday," The Daily Californian, University of California, Berkeley
- Dr. Yvonne K. Fulbright, "Sexpert Tells All," Washington Square News, New York University
- Samantha Johnson, "Hump Day" The Badger Herald, University of Wisconsin
- Natalie Krinsky, "Sex and the (Elm) City," Yale Daily News, Yale University
- Liana Mancini, "The Shocker," The Cornell Daily Sun, Cornell University
- David Matteson, Steven Penaranda, Jamie Pizzi, "The Sexperts," The Sandspur, Rollins College
- Luke Pearson, "I'll Try Anything Once...," "The Daily Free Press", Boston University
- Anna Schleelein, "Sex and the Univercity," The Heights, Boston College
- Dr. David Trent, "Going Down with Dr. David Trent," The Underground[dead link], University of British Columbia
- Alex Tucker, "The Dirty Bird," The Daily Cardinal, University of Wisconsin
- Some pertinent articles in the media:
- Patterson, Randall, "Students of Virginity", New York Times Magazine, March 30, 2008. Refers to Lena Chen's Harvard blog. "Perhaps no one at Harvard represents the hookup culture better than Lena Chen, a student sex blogger ... Chen’s viewpoint, as she explained it to me, was not complicated. 'For me, being a strong woman means not being ashamed that I like to have sex,' she said. And 'to say that I have to care about every person I have sex with is an unreasonable expectation. It feels good! It feels good!'"
- Hoover, Eric, "The New Sex Scribes: Female columnists spark interest and controversy at student newspapers", The Chronicle of Higher Education, June 14, 2002.
- Rimer, Sara, "Sex and the College Newspaper; Student Columnists Explore a Familiar Campus Topic", The New York Times, October 4, 2002
- Harris, Paul, "Columnists lay bare sex and single student", The Observer (UK), Sunday, October 16, 2005.
- Marklein, Mary Beth, "Sex is casual at college papers", USA Today, November 13, 2002
- Cheng, Grayce Y., "RATED X for Mature Eyes Only : Campus sex chronicler has Harvard all hot and bothered", The Harvard Crimson, Wednesday, October 04, 2006.
- Mancini, Liana, "Am-bi-valent: The Sun’s new sex columnist is in the house", The Cornell Daily Sun, August 28, 2008
- Krinsky, Natalie, "No matter what it costs -- Keep it neat, keep it clean, keep it real", Yale Daily News, column Sex and the (Elm) City, Friday, April 12, 2002
- Stanford, Ian, "Not a typical school girl: Former sex columnist for the University Daily Kansan talks about what she has done", University Daily Kansan, University of Kansas, Thursday, September 14, 2006.
- Eblen, Tom, "KU journalism students place in national writing competition", KU School of Journalism News, University Relations Office, University of Kansas, December 4, 2001. "Bainum's article Different Strokes for Different Folks appeared in the Nov. 30, 2000, issue of the University Daily Kansan. She discussed the causes of sexual attraction and fetishes and society's conception of sex."
- Walker, Nick, "Women and Men: All mouth and no trousers", The Independent, October 1, 1995.
- "Sex Ed: Double Exposure". Penthouse Magazine. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
- Stanford, Ian, The University Daily Kansan, "Not a typical school girl", Thursday, September 14th, 2006
- Radakovich, Anka The Wild Girls Club : tales from below the belt, 1st ed. New York : Crown, 1994. ISBN 0-517-59631-8
- Reimold, Daniel, Sex and the University: Celebrity, Controversy, and a Student Journalism, Rutgers University Press, September 2010. ISBN 978-0-8135-4805-0
- Sohn, Amy, "The Vagina Dialogues: Sex columnists compare notes", New York magazine, November 12, 2005
- Tartakovsky, Joseph, "Never Mind Tolstoy: 'This is kind of our protest to say that we're in charge of our sexuality,' says one campus sex columnist.", The Wall Street Journal, August 13, 2010.
- Wolfe, Tom I Am Charlotte Simmons, New York : Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2004. ISBN 0-374-28158-0