Is Sex Advice Good Memoir Material?


Have you heard of this book by my former sociology professor at the UW named Pepper Schwartz? She’s authored several other books but the most relevant ones include Everything You Know about Love and Sex Is Wrong and The Great Sex Weekend. She was the “Sex and Health” columnist for Glamour for seven years and has appeared frequently on national programs, including The Oprah Winfrey ShowDateline, and Dr. Phil. She is currently the relationship expert for, and sexuality advisor for

Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years is a collection of findings that draw from Dr. Schwartz’s 30+ years of research encouraging women to embrace fully their sexual appetites. But, it is nothing like The Hite Report: A National Study of Female Sexuality by Shere Hite (BTW, do you think Shere Hite made up that name?).

Schwartz was married when I took her graduate class in Sociology in 1984. The class was entitled Money, Sex and Power (a book—no longer available—she authored with her husband who also taught this class). She divorced after 23 years of marriage and had to start over with that whole dating and negotiating safe-sex thing—something very few straight women felt empowered to do when they were dating a quarter century earlier.

In Prime, Dr. Schwartz offers thick description of her own experiences finding better sex, better romance and much better communication practices (not necessarily in that order). In this particular book, sexual recollections turn into offerings for readers. Unlike Shere Hite, Schwartz doesn’t keep statistics front and center, instead she uses her own experiences PLUS recent polling evidence—about female sexual desires/practices after 40—as a road map to consider no matter what our age.

If you are over 40 and starting from scratch after a few marriages (like me), you’ll get a boost in your imagination and more confidence to know that, this time, you can be bold or at least more likely to speak up for what you want. Too, if you’re curious to explore all your senses, you may find that your libido is stronger than ever before—it’s just a fact of hormonal shifts that work on our behalf.

I wish I had this book to hand my ex-husband’s friend, David (also a professor of philosophy), who warned me, “You’re not getting any younger, Jenn. It won’t be easy to find another mate at your age (40!).” At the time, I just laughed out loud and shook my head. I thought to myself, “Hey David, how’s that male chauvinism thing working for you in your own love life?” Instead, I could have handed him Schwartz’s book and quipped, “David, I’m in my prime and have many awesome adventures ahead and I can’t wait to get started.” Tongue out

Want to write a different kind of memoir? Call today to set up a 30″ complimentary sample session to see what we might create together: 206.617-8832 or design your own package.

Pepper Schwartz

Is there anything you can’t share in a memoir? Ask Eve Ensler

Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir by Eve Ensler

“Illusory security… robs us of being human.” ~ Eve Ensler

From Publishers Weekly

I am worried about this word, this notion—security,” writes the renowned author of The Vagina Monologues at the beginning of this extraordinarily compelling, if somewhat scattered, memoir; “Why has all of this focus on security made me feel so much more insecure?”
Ensler recounts her attempts to make sense of a war-ridden world in which “security” becomes both unimaginable and dangerous.
Weaving together personal history (about her childhood relationship with her father, who would choke her in drunken rages and not remember the next morning), with a panoply of violent political scenarios around the world: the Serbs’ use of rape to subdue Muslims in Bosnia; the public execution of women in an Afghan stadium; the unsolved brutal murders of more than 370 women in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Ensler aims to explicate the moments when we, often unwittingly, implicate ourselves in this violence through our need for an illusory “security.”
Ensler has a vivid, startling style that is both direct and poetic, and she is able to make chilling connections—she writes that the dust that covered New York on 9/11 was the dust that she had seen “in Kabul, in Bosnia, in Kosovo.” This is an important work by a major American writer. (Oct. 3)

From Booklist

Eve Ensler, most famous for The Vagina Monologues (1998), has audaciously confronted misogyny and violence against women not only as a playwright and a performer but also as the founder of V-Day, an international philanthropic organization. Ensler now proves to be as galvanizing an oral historian and essayist as she is a dramatist in this forthright inquiry into our obsession with security both personal and national.
Forging a potent brew of candid memoir and hard-hitting reportage, she considers the harsh reality that security is nothing more than an illusion, and that, perversely, the pursuit of security actually increases threats against our well-being. Ensler discovered the myth of security as a girl, when she endured horrific abuse from her alcoholic father within the precincts of a seemingly safe middle-class home.
Watch Eve Ensler talk about her book, Insecure At Last: A Political Memoir.
Ensler has subsequently sought out sister survivors, and recounts with lucidity, empathy, and respect her conversations with Bosnian rape victims, Afghani women tyrannized by the Taliban, women prisoners, and mothers of some of the hundreds of young women killed in Cuidad Juarez, the hellish factory zone south of El Paso. Keenly aware of how catastrophes undermine our sense of security, Ensler also writes incisively about 9/11 and the aftermath of Katrina.
Through carefully listening and clarion analysis, Ensler reaches the conclusion that grasping for security isolates us and denies opportunities for dialogue, hope, and change. We’re told that war is necessary to ensure security, Ensler muses, “when really it is kindness we are after.” ~ Donna Seaman

Want to write a different kind of memoir? Call today to set up a 30″ complimentary sample session to see what we might create together: 206.617-8832 or design your own package.

Eve Ensler