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My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday

My Secret Garden (original 1973; edition 1983)

by Nancy Friday

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Title:My Secret Garden
Authors:Nancy Friday
Info:Pocket (1983), Paperback
Collections:Your library

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My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies by Nancy Friday (1973)

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
In 1973, Nancy Friday published a large collection of answers to an ad she placed looking for women to tell their deepest darkest sexual fantasies. Apparently at the time, people didn't believe women even had fantasies, or it made them uncomfortable to admit it. Many women who did have them thought they were freaks, and many men thought himself so sexual proficient that no woman he touched would "need" to fantasize.

The book is structured with Fridays's pseudo-psychological commentary interspersed with the fantasies that she collected through letters, phone calls, and interviews. She must have edited them heavily, because the word patterns, word choice, and tone are the same throughout the book. There is a vast range of fantasies, so something for everyone I suppose, but they all have the same voice. Overall, the book felt very dated, and not just the places where the woman fantasizes about getting it on with a guy wearing a flowered shirt and purple velvet bellbottoms. A lot of the fantasies were unintentionally sad, as they revealed young women who had poor sex education and are now in horrible marriages. The racism made me uncomfortable. And I was surprised to hear about so many women who got married at 18 or 19. I think this is a relic whose time has passed.

So, in conclusion, I didn't find the analysis that I was looking for, and the fantasies bored me. I was surprised to see it tagged as erotica here on LT, and even more surprised to see reviews on GoodReads that talked about how sexy and titillating they found it. To each her own, I guess.

Why I Read This Now: I was doing some research for a project I'm working on and had been following internet rabbit holes when I came across it. I remember this book being mentioned in women's magazines extensively through the late 70s and 80s but I never paid it any attention. Thought it might have some insights.

Recommended for: students of gender studies and sexuality, students of the 1970s, people who are 40 years late learning that woman enjoy sexual fantasies. The text is available free online.

Rating: I'm sure it was great in its day. An update of Friday's project might be interesting. Otherwise, this one is past its best before date. ( )
  Nickelini | Jul 4, 2015 |
All those dogs! Who knew? ( )
  LynleyS | Feb 8, 2014 |
This 1973 book was groundbreaking for its time but badly needs updating and a better grouning. It could be seen as a collection of dirty stories, yes, but it also does give insight into the female psyche and I wonder how much would still apply today. Part of the problem is I feel this isn't very grounded or representative. Friday seems to have collected the fantasies of a rather small range of women demographically.

Friday wrote she advertised for female fantasies in a magazine and newspaper and collected over 400 of them. Are these educated women? Wealthier than average? Is there racial diversity in her sample? Lesbians and bisexuals in proportional numbers? How much of this is true cross-culturally or does this only hold for Americans? And how much has changed since 1973 given the impact of the feminist movement? She divides the fantasies into 16 "Houses" of the most popular stock themes. Would Rape Fantasy still be number three decades after the heyday of the bodice-ripper romance? Would "Pain and Masochism" rank higher in our age of Fifty Shades of Grey? Would "Big Black Men" still make it on the hit parade or would it come lower or higher since it's less "forbidden" for white women?

All that said, a friend of mine interested in gender studies says she'd still be interested in this book because she knows of no more recent or rigorous study on the subject--which rather astonishes me. ( )
1 vote LisaMaria_C | Sep 15, 2013 |
Reviewed Feb. 18th, 2013

Like so many older books on sex that purport to have a sociological raison d'etre. In this case, the (at the time) ground-breaking discussion of women's fantasies but in actuality it's just a not-very-well written collection of extremely dirty stories that unless you neither fancy women nor are one, are probably going to get you hot, just as the author intended. ( )
  Petra.Xs | Apr 2, 2013 |
"My Secret Garden" is a collection of many women's fantasies. First published in 1973, it was rather outspoken at the time. Nancy Friday breaks fantasies down into fifteen main rooms: anonymity, audience, rape, pain, domination, terror, the forbidden, transformation, earth mother, incest, animals, big black men, young boys, fetishists, and other women. Towards the end Friday also includes some women who played out their fantasies, and some who actively engaged in fantasy with their partner.

Friday tends to include her thoughts in between sections, and occasionally when introducing people. I found her thoughts tended to be writing for the heterosexual female reader, and not necessary for the book. I think the book would have been more interesting if it was just women's fantasies and chaptered by different themes.

All in all, this was an informative, interesting, and erotic read.
  thecsph | Jun 21, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (3 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Friday, Nancyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Buitenrust Hettema-van Coevorden, RéchelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671019872, Mass Market Paperback)

This book caused quite a ruckus when it was released 25 years ago because it directly quotes the sexual fantasies of dozens of women, ranging from the "very common" rape fantasy to lesbian affairs to unusually explicit scenarios that are unmentionable here. While author Nancy Friday maintains that My Secret Garden served to free millions of women from sexual oppression, there's still a need today to get rid of the guilt that millions more still feel when it comes to fantasizing, having orgasms, and making one's sexual wishes be known. "How could it be, you might ask," she writes, "that women today, at the turn of the century, would still think they were the only Bad Girls with erotic thoughts? What kind of prison is this that that women impose on themselves?"

My Secret Garden has the prurient appeal that made it one of the most passed-around books in high school study halls (it boasts chapters titled "Insatiability" and "The Thrill of the Forbidden"), but its premise, underneath the tales of lusty longings, is a serious one. Friday, also author of My Mother, My Self and Women on Top, is appalled at how parents, especially mothers, instill in their children a deep fear of sexual pleasure, and she advises how to do away with this stultifying force. While Friday can get a little histrionic at times ("Women's lust ... could bring down not only individuals, but society itself"), that doesn't make this book any less enthralling. --Erica Jorgensen

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:51 -0400)

Safe behind the walls of anonymity, hundreds of real women responded to Nancy Friday's call for details of their own most private fantasies. My Secret Garden is the daring compilation of those fantasies. When it first appeared, it created a storm of outrage in the media... and an equal sense of exhilaration for those women who finally were able to share their sisters' most intimate thoughts. Even now, in a new millennium, over ten thousand women each year buy a new copy of this astounding classic of feminist literature.… (more)

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