bdsm, book review, case studies, interviews, journalism, living on the fringes of american sexuality, psychology, secret sex lives, sexology, sexuality books, sociology, suzy spencer, swingers, writing
Secret Sex Lives: A Year on the Fringes of American Sexuality
by Suzy Spencer
genre: non-fiction, psychology, sexology, journalism, human sexuality
An oddly intimate book that is quite confronting. Find out why I gave it 3 out of 5 stars!
(Taken from Goodreads)
Suzy Spencer set out to investigate sex in America—to go beyond the talk and find out what people are really doing in their private (or not so private) lives. What she discovered online, at sex clubs, and elsewhere was truly eye-opening.She started talking to men and women—from across America of all ages and sexual orientations—who make no apology for how they fire their imaginations and satisfy their desires. Soon she found herself invited to be a voyeur—listening in on phone sex, reading e-mails describing sexual encounters in graphic detail, and attending BDSM mixers and workshops. It was all astonishing… and enticing. At every turn she felt herself pulled deeper into people’s secret lives and began questioning her own choices about relationships and sex. Secret Sex Lives is an intimate account of a journalist who is seduced by her subject; a woman who sets out to look behind closed doors but ends up on a personal, revealing journey to find herself…
I thought this book was going to be a collection of scientific case studies. Instead, it was a memoir with Craigslist interviews thrown into the mix. Coming from a science background, I felt myself cringing at HOW subjective this was. When I finished the book, it took me a while to process what I read and what I gained from it. Even though it was very subjective, I feel like it was still a decent read. But I was disappointed at the lack of objectivity.
I think the strongest aspect of the book were the interviews she did. We met many interesting, confronting, and good-natured people. I feel like there were two main ‘kinks’ that she explored through the people who messaged her. Swingers and BDSM-ers. I found it interesting to learn more about these worlds and how they exist (in the context of America). I liked how some of the characters in the book received quite a lot of attention, showing how complex each and everyone of us is. Society often likes to shun ‘sex deviants’ and make them out to be one-dimensional, to define them by their kink, but I liked that this book showed them as normal people with normal lives. Although, in saying that, I disliked how often Suzy referred to her interviewees as ‘sex freaks’. I think she used it endearingly at times but… it’s still not cool. Continue reading