This Giveaway Has Concluded
Kerry Cohen, author of Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity, is here to talk with us about life after writing Loose Girl. Kerry will be profiled on Secret Lives of Women on WE T.V. this month and is currently working on another memoir about parenting an autistic child. Kerry is also the author of Young Adult (YA) Fiction under the name Kerry Cohen Hoffman. Be sure to check out Kerry’s web site at www.kerry-cohen.com where you can learn more about her and her books.
When I stepped back into the bar where I had lived out a fair chunk of my “loose girl” days, I had not been there for many, many years. Also, the last time I did not have a cameraman, a sound guy, and a producer from “The Secret Lives of Women” leading the way. If someone had told me back then that my behavior with guys was going to wind up on television some day, I would have laughed. I would have said, “I highly doubt anyone wants to see how pathetic I am.” I might have added, “Besides, I’m sure for most women, it would be like looking in the mirror.” And then I would have paused, thinking about this, and then I would have rushed off to write Loose Girl.
The producer asks, “What were you looking for when you came into a bar like this one?”
“I wanted to find someone to fill my emptiness,” I told her. “I was always looking for boys to do that.”
In the corner, in my peripheral vision, a customer stands and listens. Doesn’t he have anything better to do than listen to some girl tell her sad tale of desire? But I don’t turn to look at him, to try to gauge what he’s thinking, because I’m supposed to talk to the camera. I straighten my back, hold my hands tightly in my lap.
So silly, isn’t it? I published a memoir, after all, revealing the terrible neediness that drove me through much of my life, all culminating in promiscuity. It’s not like I have a right to be embarrassed. At my recent annual with my gynecologist, trying to assess how often I needed to be coming in, she asked, “Would you say you’ve slept with less than, or more than, five people since you’ve been sexually active?” My answer? “Um, read the book.”
Nothing is secret anymore. People write me emails. “I hope you’re doing okay,” some well-intentioned readers say, and I feel immediately ashamed, embarrassed by my own vulnerability. Others are not so well intentioned. One told me I’d shamed the Jewish community. Another sent an email with the subject line, “40 dicks.” I will leave to your imagination what that one entailed, but will say that he also berated me for writing a book about sex when I have two small sons.
Of course, all of this is my own fault. I did write a book about sex when I have two small sons. Once, a reader wrote me, “Thank you for taking the firestorm on this.” It’s true. I made a decision to reveal myself, to be more vulnerable – honestly – than I’ve ever allowed myself to be, not even during sex.
But there’s a reason I did it. And the reason goes beyond curiosity, voyeurism, attention, beyond any sort of personal need. When I worked as a therapist, girl after girl came through my office door to tell me the stories I came to know as well as my own. What’s more, they were my stories. We all had the same one, albeit with different details. They were the first ones to make themselves vulnerable. They spoke their stories after much waiting, much encouraging. When they were finally willing to speak them, they did so in soft voices, in whispers. They said things like, “I’m so ashamed,” and “I hate myself for this,” and “How could anyone ever love me?” They spoke their stories only because that door they had walked through was firmly shut, because no one would hear.
The harm of that silence, I knew, was greater than the acts themselves. Sex and boys and their needs had wounded these girls. But nothing had injured them more than the silence they had to upkeep.
The same had been true for me.
Writing my story, allowing thousands of people to read who I’ve been and what I’ve longed for, has been the greatest intimacy in my life. I’ve been attacked for it, yes – that firestorm. But more than that, I’ve received email after email telling me what it’s meant to them to have someone speak their secret words, to know that they aren’t alone.
In early September, the documentary in which I’m profiled will air, and there I’ll be, on camera, telling the world my deepest, most shameful secrets. I’m hopeful that someday they won’t have to be shameful anymore for any of us.
Kerry’s publicist asked me to read Loose Girl and sent me my copy and now I would like to offer it up as a book giveaway for you. If you are interested in winning my copy of Loose Girl, which is in as-good-as-new condition, please leave your name and e-mail address below in the comments section of this post. You will have until this Friday, September 12th at Midnight EDT to enter this giveaway. Planet Books uses Random.org to select winners for book giveaways.