The writer of a book of sexual adventures (based on her blog) has had her identity revealed by the Times, just 3 days after the book’s publication. Predictably, the overall tone in the newspapers with regard to Girl with a One-track Mind seems to be decidedly disparaging. For example, comments on the Daily Mail website include “Don’t give up yet dear, I’m sure there’s a man out there looking for someone like you” (patronisingly implying that her behaviour can only be interpreted to be a way of trapping a man) and “You’re no feminist… you’re just a sad woman with no self-respect and even less for other people”. (The latter commenter seems to think that “self-respect”, and perhaps even feminism, can only be indicated through traditional sexual morality or modesty. They also sneakily bypass the writer’s attempt to protect the anonymity of her sexual partners through her use of the pseudonym, Abby Lee.)
“Abby Lee” has also been asked by interviewers if she’s a “sex addict” and writes on her blog:
“Just because a woman enjoys sex, it seems that she must be seen as pathological in some way; that she must be abnormal, or bad, or – as in my case – an addict. Why can’t women just like sex? Why can’t we be seen to enjoy it, without being called ‘sluts’ or ‘whores’ or ‘addicts’? Why must something be wrong with us, just because we openly express our needs, desires and wants?”
It all rather reminds me of the gleeful focus on Annabel Chong’s apparent instability in the Gough Lewis documentary that was recently repeated on channel 4. It seems to me that if a woman who writes anonymously about her everyday sexual activities is frowned on, the more controversial boundary-pushers like Chong don’t stand a chance.
Not all coverage and comments on Girl with a One-track Mind have been negative. Indeed, a Zoe Williams interview with the author in today’s Guardian is definitely worth a read. Overall, I’d say “Abby Lee” comes across very well and, obviously, I’m rather glad that the writing seems to be underpinned by an aim to make feminism more palatable to women. However, there were also a couple of comments that I would question:
1. Her correlation between being “sexually uptight” and certain eating disorders. While I very much agree that obsessing over the size of one’s stomach hardly seems conducive to great sex, I also think her comment potentially lends credibility to conventional stereotypes connected to food and sex. Anyway, surely the individual’s right to be “sexually uptight” is an important part of true sexual freedom?
2. She has said her parents have fundamentally stated that they will “not even glance” at her writing, adding “thank God. Who wants their parents reading that stuff? It’s private.” Does her apparent desire to protect her parents from explicit revelations actually contradict the standards she is challenging or is this understandable, considering the pressures we are all under in a prudish society?
Thanks to Emily Turner for alerting me to this news story. You can read Emily’s opinion at her blog.