There’s a tweet doing the rounds at the moment about the experience of loving a book but not remembering a single thing about it. As relatable content goes, it was absolutely on the money for me. I can confidently declare that I loved reading something and have no recollection of the plot or anyone’s names. It happens with nonfiction, too. I won’t be able to recall most details or even broad strokes about something I enjoyed. But that’s with a few notable exceptions. I know how I understood the world before reading Julia Serano’s first nonfiction book, Whipping Girl, in 2014 and I distinctly remember feeling like I saw and understood it better afterward. Reading the cult nonfiction book about transmisogyny — about the ways that gender, gender expression, and sex are intertwined but not bound to each other, and the scapegoating of femininity — felt like scales falling from my eyes. Before Instagram-friendly slideshows and viral TikToks, it showed me how the experiences of cis women and trans womenintersect, how our understanding of gender is influenced and why femininity is demonized by the world around us. It’s informed my feminism and my thinking ever since.

I had the same experience reading Serano’s latest book, Sexed Up: How Society Sexualizes Us & How We Can Fight Back. In it, she breaks down what “sexualization” means and why it matters. Going in, I felt foggy about the definition but, as I read, I was shown mindsets that helped me to make sense of why certain men feel that women hold all the cards when it comes to sex. I was introduced to ways of thinking that resolved the tensions between sex-positiveand sex-negative feminism and I finally came to grips with why describing certain things as a “fetish” rings false to me.

The most impactful takeaway for me was Serano’s argument that the way in which men and women interact on an intimate level is inherently shaped by sexualization, which takes the form of the predator/prey mindset.