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Lisa Hickey

Lisa Hickey
November 06
Publisher, CEO
The Good Men Project
Part of The Good Men Project. CEO of Good Men Media. I like to create things that capture the imagination of the general public & become a part of the culture.

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SEPTEMBER 15, 2011 9:50PM

Can a CEO Talk About Sex?

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 CEO Lisa Hickey wonders “What happens when stuff that is  NSFW is your work?”


A Saturday night, and an email comes through on my iPhone. “Hey Lisa, what do you think of nymphomania?”

There were days when I would have taken that as a flirtatious pick-up line. This was not one of those days. I put on my best professional email demeanor and replied, “Sure, sounds great. Story angle? Title? Men?

Being CEO of Good Men Media, Inc., which runs The Good Men Project, I happen to have to talk about sex a lot, in the most unexpected ways. There was a discussion about whether to run “a vehement disagreement about porn.” Yes. Cunnilingus? Yes, but with a twinge of fear. I almost had to close my eyes when it was posted. “In defense of threesomes?” No. How often had I had conversations like this before The Good Men Project? Uhm….never.


Most of my life, I had received a very clear message: “There is a time and a place to talk about sex.” The problem was, the time never arrived. And I never seemed to be in the right place, that one magic room where I could talk about sex openly. Sure, with a sex partner, sometimes. But, here’s the rub—only after we had sex. Sometimes, I was offered the advice: “Maybe you should talk to a therapist.” Really? The only time I can talk about sex is when I pay someone? Clearly, that was not going to work. Better advice was, “Don’t be afraid to talk about anything. You shouldn’t be afraid of reality.”


I was not too long ago in a work conversation with a potential columnist—and we were talking about sex. And I casually mentioned, “oh, when I was growing up, I was asked if I wanted to be raped more times than I can remember.” The woman on the other end of the phone was young. She did not have that same sort of experience growing up. When I said those words to her, her gasp was loud and pointed. I got the feeling she wanted to hang up. The wave of all those years of never being able to say the word out loud came flooding back to me. She was a sex columnist. And I still felt guilty for mentioning the word “rape” in a conversation. But that’s exactly why it should be talked about. And I’m proud to say that the difficult stuff to talk about – topics like pornography, race, sexual violence and plain old sex – talking about those things with depth, intelligence and grace has become our specialty.


Not too long ago, a Penthouse arrived in my mailbox. It was the end of a very long day (turns out it’s not so easy to launch an interesting, provocative, national discussion about what it means to be a good man 24 hours a day.) I picked up the unmarked white envelope, slid out the copy of Penthouse, tore off the handwritten sticky note from publisher Peter Bloch; a cheery “thanks for all your help!”

The Good Men Project had a partnership with Penthouse that lasted 6 months. (Ironically I’ve heard that 6 months is the average length of time a relationship lasts when it’s only about sex.) Stories from The Good Men Project book were reprinted in Penthouse once a month. My moral issue with this was nil. I certainly believe that guys who read Penthouse have the same complex mix of “good” as all the rest of us. I will, however, defend my right to talk about the fact that as a society, I believe the obsession with women who look like they are from the pages of Penthouse is unhealthy, one that hurts both men and women. But I don’t think the solution is to ban freedom of expression. I also don’t think the solution is to try to shame men into feeling guilty over to wanting to read those publications. What I do think is important is talking about the issues as honestly as possible, listening, as individuals to the people we care about, and allowing space for honest dialogue.


Part of the problem with the internet is that we judge people by sentences. A single sentence gets hold out, scrutinized and shouted about. “LOOK AT WHAT S/HE SAID.”  That becomes part of the fear. “What if…What if I say that one wrong thing?” But here, at least, we appreciate people who are careful with their words. And I, for one, will not be judged by a single sentence.


Talking about what it means to be good, as much as anything, means talking about what is not good, talking about consequences of things your not sure of, talking about polarizing topics not just with people on your side but people on the other pole. Talking about mistakes made and insights gleaned in the process. Doing it with an honesty and rawness and passion—and being willing to screw up that conversation as it unfolds.


I’m happy to report that the female oral sex post was one of our top stories of the day – even with the words “ick factor” in the subhead. My anti-obsession with worrying about whether we all look good enough for Penthouse is being addressed in a section on women and  beauty on Sept. 22nd. And we’re having a section on rape and sexual violence on Sept. 27th.


So yes, I’m going to keep talking about sex. And I sincerely hope you’ll join me.

Want to write about sex? Or other topics you are passionate about relating to men, manhood, masculinity, goodness, and, of course, more sex? If so, please email me, All are welcome.

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I especially like your last 3 words - "all are welcome". How often do you hear or see that? Now as for me writing about sex...well, hmm, I'll have to think about that. Though I did recently read a book by Mike Birbiglia entitled "Sleepwalk with me and other painfully true stories". The author reveals his lack of sexual prowess in an amusing way. It's good to have a sense of humor regarding these things, but probably done so a bit easier in hindsight or should we say a bit removed.
Crisp and quite refreshing.
We men love to talk about sex, but we sometimes need
a serious ,experienced viewpoint to raise it above
an adolescent level. Women, I have heard, also love
to talk about it.
Might as well concentrate on something
we 2 very different species have in common! :)
Six months? The only time I have had a relationship where it was only about sex it only lasted two weeks. Mind you it was only about sex from my point of view. I was suddenly awakened to the news that it was supposed to be much more for the other person, who dumped my sorry ass promptly and loudly. I have since acquired better communications skills (and the love of my life).
sex positive, yay. its a lot different and really out in the open these days. a cultural shift at least in the media. as far as social mores, maybe not so much. overall. there are pockets of liberation.
Thanks and nice to meet you all commenters! Timothy, the "all are welcome" strikes me that no one ever said that to me. I often not only had trouble talking about sex but about almost everything. And I'd like to think there can be conversations where people can be honest without judgment. Humor is good, and often the best humor comes straight from raw honest. James, I agree! I like that the 2 species are different but have a chance to connect not only over sex but over conversations about it. GeeBee, I think the 6 months come from relationships where both parties are clear that that's what it's all about. And then they just grow tired of each other. And vzn, yay for pockets of liberation. Love that!
How refreshing to come across this! Hell, I'll talk about anything, sometimes ad nauseum, but sex...that's a big one. I have no problem talking about sex, but recognize that many people do, so quite often the talking doesn't take place. It has, for me, here on OS, because I've always felt free to go anywhere and that's probably the hallmark of my ravings: they aren't confined to any particular quarter. Sex, sexuality, attraction, the importance of sex, these have been explored by me and there will be more. Knowing there is also a Good Men Project is refreshing as hell. I like to think perhaps I am a good man, and if I am I give a great deal of the credit to very good women. Thanks for putting this out here. I'm sure we'll talk. Rated!
Sex is here to stay, but how we do it, how we use it, what we think of it, what we believe of it, and where we place it in our universe of self importance will continue to change. The possibility of avoiding pregnancy, and now disease, associated with sex is totally new in the history of humans, and for many people still alive, not yet part of the expectation of life. In fifty years, much of these conversations will be moot- "Grandma, is it true that women used to be able to get pregnant by accident? That's crazy talk!" However, life on the planet requires sexual reproduction (so far), and some of our sexual behaviors leading away from that and focusing entirely on self gratification may prove to be self defeating. On the other hand, it may also just lead to a whole lot less but significantly happier people.
I had no idea oral sex was still controversial!

Go figure.