media / Sex in the news

What Does a Sex Columnist Look Like? By Christopher Wink

Welcome to Sex with Timaree! Check back for fresh content Monday-Friday!

Today Sex with Timaree is featuring a piece by journalist Christopher Wink that mentions sexpert Timaree Schmit alongside such venerable names as Dan Savage and Pepper Schwartz! The entire column, as well as other works by Wink can read here.

What Does A Sex Columnist Look Like?

by Christopher Wink

Sex columnists seem to have something in common.

That was a thought that came to my mind last January, while talking at the beginning of 2009 to friend who wrote a sex column for his college newspaper. None of my existing freelance contacts seemed all that interested in the topic, so I went shopping for someone who was.

I found a buyer in a Web site for sexuality, but I was just developing my freelance career and not yet stern in my not-writing-for-free policy, so I agreed to finish a draft before agreeing to terms.

When it came in, my editor balked, the economy worsened, advertising declined and freelance budgets were continually slashed, and so the story has sat ever since. Today, I share it here: a profile of the mindset of someone who just might be a sex columnist.

What does a sex columnist look like?

Timaree Schmit went through 12 years of Catholic school and came out the other side a sex columnist.

timaree-schmitTimaree Schmit

The 26-year-old graduate student at Widener University outside Philadelphia writes Sex with Timaree, a popular sex column featured weekly on the Barbershop Notebooks, a blog maintained by Temple University [now Columbia University] hip-hop professor and Fox News contributor Marc Lamont Hill. Schmit, raised in Western Nebraska, describes herself as liberal and sexually experienced, yet says her column often gives men the impression she’s more flippant about sexual encounters than she really is.

In other words, she just might be the prototype of a successful sex columnist, according to research by Dr. Pepper Schwartz, a sociology professor at the University of Washington, author of a host of related books including Everything You Know About Love and Sex is Wrong, and a former sex columnist for Glamour.

“You’d be amazed at the level of ignorance and the level of isolation out there,” Schwartz says. “Sex columnists serve a big role.”

But what does your friendly neighborhood sex columnist who is filling that role look like? Like many professions, it seems a certain set of characteristics are often shared by those drawn to the allure of writing about the most intimate details of their lives and others.

“It’s definitely important to understand who you’re getting information from,” Schwartz says. So why not put a mirror up to your favorite tawdry advice columnist?

Often, they’re liberal and personable and self-identify as being sexually experienced, like you might guess. But also, Schwartz says, their columns may be a vehicle to normalize their own taboo behaviors, yet they are likely a lot less confident than their writing may suggest.

Your average sex columnist was likely raised in a family that was either extremely sexually repressive or expressive, Schwartz says, and it also turns out that many are a lot less promiscuous or even adventurous than their writing may suggest.

“I don’t know one thing about sex,” says E. Jean Carroll, the venerable advice columnist for Elle whose content often gets intimate. “That’s the same for all columnists. We are not necessarily the people we seem to be in print.”

To read the rest of the article, which includes my opinion of Carrie Bradshaw, continue here.

Questions? Comments? Violent Reactions?  Email Timaree at See more at

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