Ever call someone a slut? Or a ho?
You might think twice about the object (not subject since we objectify when we call someone names) of your label after reading Kerry Cohen’s memoir Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity.
Sex addiction is a real disorder–and treated by therapists and in rehab facilities around the country. This is the first book I’ve read about a girl who has this addiction. Her self-worth is completely connected to getting attention from guys. I use the word “guys,” rather than men, because at the end of the book, in an interview of Cohen, she explains that men have feelings and needs of their own, but that a “loose girl” doesn’t view males that way. She uses them for her own overpowering needs.
In this book, the reader is brought into the mindset of a teen girl and, later, young woman who is a sex addict. For me, this book was horrifying to read. Cohen knew intellectually the dangers of having unprotected sex, and yet she did, with guys she barely knew–one after another after another.
I suspect there are women and young women I know who have engaged in this kind of behavior. There might be many women like this.
The book is an engaging read, although the subject was disturbing. I stayed up too late finishing it as I wanted to have things set right for me at the end. I don’t want to include any spoilers here as I want you to have the same suspenseful read I had, so I will just say that the ending surprised me.
From this book I learned that in memoir the most critical scenes and shifts or turns in the plot don’t have to be earth-shattering. They can be more subtle, as often happens in life. In fact, in this book sometimes the most dramatic events don’t trigger any change in the narrative, whereas something almost invisible can trigger more change.
I did notice a couple of places where, if the book was in my group’s critique session, readers would demand something more. For instance, after Cohen develops a medical problem, readers don’t get to see how this affects her relationship with her boyfriend at the time. Instead, we jump ahead to “summer.”
Another opportunity missed might actually be intentional and part of the design of the book. Most of the characters, other than the male sex objects, are barely described. I don’t really have a good idea of how Cohen looks (other than her photo at the back of the book). Or her parents or therapist or best friends. The only exception is her sister Tyler, another victim of their neglectful upbringing. I suspect Cohen wants the reader to see the world as she saw it–cute boys with straight or curly hair and pretty eyes that single her out with their gaze. She may have described Tyler as a nod to Tyler’s shared family experience.
This book can benefit society by showing us what’s at stake when we just call someone a slut in a derisive way and don’t examine the root causes of her behavior.