Forbidden Flowers- Nancy Friday 1994


I very much dislike this whole Fifty Shades of Grey fashion that is going on at the moment. This is not  because I am particularly prudish, but instead because I find the whole concept of the craze rather distasteful and patronising. I do not believe that women need to be given permission to be able to admit to enjoying something written about sex, and I don't like how books like this reinforce the belief that to make sex acceptable to women, it needs to be dressed up as a second-rate romance. Furthermore, its utter crap, and in the few paragraphs I have read (out loud, in a dramatic voice, from our office communal copy which has since mysteriously gone missing) I have been driven to distraction by the poor quality, half-arsed writing style of it (denote that she is thinking by writing in italics. Finish every sentence with either Holy crap, Holy Jesus, Holy shit etc etc, because then the reader will know how very innocent she is and will be able to identify with her because we are all delicate flowers)

Anyway, that all helps to put this review of Forbidden Flowers into context. This is a follow up book to My Secret Garden, which I haven't yet read, but I don't think that makes much difference. 

The concept is simple. Instead of attempting to address female sexuality in the context of some hokey romance, it appears to have occurred to Nancy Friday that it would be worthwhile actually asking women themselves to describe their fantasies. They are categorised into sections like "Looking", "Frustration", "Daydreaming" and "Masturbation", and the author spends a bit of time analysing them and discussing the common themes that emerge, although lets be honest here and say that most people will skip past those bits.

What results is a diverse collection of stories and thoughts, which is as it should be really, given that women are not a homogenous bunch. Some of the fantasies are just plain weird, whilst others resonate (a carefully chosen word). In some places it is pretty hot, and the good thing about it being a varied collection is that there will probably be something in there to appeal to most women, and men too I should imagine. Importantly, nothing is judged, and it is accepted throughout that women are completely entitled to have these sorts of thoughts.

Now, I know that there have been criticisms of Nancy Friday's work, as its not done in the most scientifically rigorous of manners. I'm not entirely convinced that I agree with all of her assessments of the fantasies. However, its nice to find a book which just sits back and allows women to think and write about their experiences as they want to, without any of it having to be sugar-coated. Its nice to- for a change- be told that we're not weird for thinking the way we do, we're not sick or wicked, and nor should we feel guilty for any of it. 

Not a book to read on your Kindle on the bus, mind. 


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