Nancy Friday, if you don’t already know who she is, is a journalist who published My Secret Garden. The book is a collection of women’s erotic fantasies, published in 1973. Long before the Internet, her book gave voice to women’s sexual fantasies and, as such, caused both outrage and enthusiastic support. Until Friday’s book, the erotic voice was largely confined to men. That women had erotic fantasies came as a shock to many.
I first read Friday’s book when I was roughly 13. The realization that women fantasized too, and that their fantasies were strangely mirror images of mine, was a revelation. When I imagined cornering a girl in a dark corner and forcing her to orgasm on my own, I was shocked to read that somewhere there was a girl who was fantasizing about the boy would force her into a dark corner, warn her to be silent, thrust and hold a hand over her mouth until he was done with her. I understood my sexual desires in a new and accepting way. I’ve loved women ever since, imagining their secrets, their dark fantasies, the wetness they hide from all but their lovers—and even sometimes their lovers.
A straight line can be drawn from almost all my stories to Nancy Friday’s books.
And without Nancy Friday’s work, my writing would be very different. Whenever I sometimes say to myself: No woman would ever submit to that, or no woman would ever fantasize about that, or no woman would find that acceptable, I remember this or that story in Friday’s collection, and am corrected. We are both monsters, men and women. Our fantasies, offering a necessary and different kind of erotic experience from daily life, dovetail with an almost mystical beauty.
Friday’s books are filled with the very subjects fastidiously (and hypocritically) banned (as I’ve experienced myself) by publishers, distributors, and retailers. Among the most astonishing: childhood sex, childhood sex with adults that was enjoyed and fondly remembered, sex with animals, sex with siblings that was enjoyed, non=consensual sex, rape that may or may not have been enjoyed. Here are some of the headings from the contents page:
The House of Fantasy
- “Taken by the Faceless Stranger”
- The Audience
- Rape, or “Don’t just stand there, Force me!”
- Pain and Masochism, or “Ouch, Don’t Stop!”
- Domination, or, “How Humiliating! Thank You.”
- The Sexuality of Terror, or, “Help, I’m out of Control, Thank God!”
- The Thrill of the Forbidden, or, “No, You Must Not! … Here. Let Me Help You.”:
- The Zoo
- Big Black Men
- Young Boys
- The Fetishists
- Prostitution, or, “Sadie Thompson Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”
“Where did a nice girl like you get an idea like that?”
- Women do look
- Seeing and Reading
For me personally, reading her books at a young age, Friday’s most memorable interviews centered on sexual awakenings and helped me understand my own. A number of my stories are about sexual awakenings and may, if the reader wishes, be construed as “under-aged” experiences; but I consider literary erotica a discussion and exploration of sexuality—no less valid than any other. To be barred from exploring these and any erotic fantasy is its own kind of assault and sexual oppression. Discussion invites comprehension.
So to Nancy Friday, my gratitude. To all the women who shared their stories and fantasies, my gratitude, To all of you who share with me your likes and dislikes, my gratitude. May we, as both readers and writers, continue to explore that strange and wonderful facet of the human mind—our erotic imagination.
William Crimson | November 8th 2017