The approaches to the still-taboo topic of feminine sexuality—at least, for women writers seeking approbation from the literary establishment—are, as Jong notes, “as varied as sexuality itself” and as exuberantly diverse as the contributors themselves. They range from such emerging talents as Elisa Albert and J.A.K. Andres to such luminaries as Rebecca Walker, Eve Ensler, Susan Cheever, Anne Roiphe and Fay Weldon, and represent a multiethnic, multigenerational swath of some of the finest women writers in the United States. Most of the pieces deal with the perennial themes of sexual coming-of-age, social and religious sexual hang-ups and lusty obsessions for male bodies (as well as female ones). Some deal with lesser-discussed—but no less important—subjects like procreative sex and eroticism in old age. Still others fearlessly explore fetishism, childhood masturbation, kink, sexual addiction and the excitement that, in the words of Linda Gray Sexton, comes from “the offering up of one’s body like a sacrifice upon the temple of the bed.” While sex is the source of life and some of the most powerful joys—and agonies—imaginable, it is also invariably linked to death. And that, writes Jong, “is part of our discomfort with it.” But the contributors to this collection never make sex facile. As they work against cultural expectations and literary double standards, they make women’s depictions of “doing it” just another aspect of a more fully realized human consciousness.
A smart, scrumptiously sexy romp of a read.
As soon as I cracked opened Erica Jong’s new anthology, “Sugar in My Bowl: Real Women Write About Real Sex,” I was overcome with giddiness. The table of contents boasted female writers from august publications sharing the most intimate aspects of their lives. It isn’t common for serious female writers — the sort who write about respectable issues like politics and poverty — to dip their toes into that piranha-infested lake of personal judgment and criticism. Just as good girls don’t talk about sex, good-girl writers don’t write about sex. Not only can it be devastating personally, but it can also earn you a professional reputation as a chick lit author or, worse, a sex writer.
But here was Ariel Levy — author of the treatise against porn culture, “Female Chauvinist Pigs” — taking a break from her highbrow analyses of gender and sexual politics for the New Yorker to write about the first time she had sex. That’s not to mention: Gail Collins of the New York Times remembering the anti-sex education she received at her Catholic girls high school; Slate’s Meghan O’Rourke seeking solace in sex after her mother’s death; and novelist Anne Roiphe recalling playing doctor with a male friend at age 5, and then again as teenagers.
Read the rest from Salon here.
Read ReelGirl’s post on Sugar In My Bowl here.
The book comes out June 14. You can pre-order it here.