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There was another famous writer in the building, our doorman told me, living high above us in a massive penthouse combination. So-and-So,” using her ex-husband’s last name and blanking on hers. women’s things,” he stammered, and I knew from the way he said it—as if tiptoeing in a minefield—that she wrote about sex.
Friday’s interviewees were as untrue and freaky as could be. And in fantasizing during sex, they were sexually autonomous to a degree that was and arguably remains unnerving.
The book was proclaimed immoral and Chopin’s follow up novel was canceled. In her obituaries you get a sense that Friday, who succumbed to complications from Alzheimer’s, had languished in the estimation of her critics after burning bright.
She is described as an “author of [a] once-shocking” book, as if we are today anywhere near accepting that women are as sexual as men; a “chronicler of women’s erotic fantasies,” as if she didn’t interpret them, often masterfully; and in a coy demotion, a “best-selling student of gender politics,” as if she is forever the co-ed in the lecture hall rather than an important voice who penned trailblazing books on the subjects of gender and sexuality.
By focusing on female sexual fantasy, Friday synthesized two apparently contradictory threads in American culture.
Friday’s work was a compendium of outrages against the notion that women are the less interested, less pervy sex.
A lover broke things off when she told him what she was thinking of during sex (it involved a blanket and a football game), while a male editor deemed her novel’s female protagonist, who had vivid sexual fantasies, unbelievable. She took out an ad in several newspapers and magazines: “FEMALE SEXUAL FANTASIES wanted by serious female researcher.
Anonymity guaranteed.”aired the dirty thoughts of hundreds of women who responded.
References to traveling salesmen, Sanka (a decaf coffee substitute), transatlantic crossings on the QE2 luxury cruise ship, and “balling” (a ’70s term for fuc*ing) date it, but the sheer bizarreness and range of what women told Friday they thought about continues to surprise even in the age of Porn Hub.
Some fantasies are relatively mundane, showing how resourceful the demure sex could be in purloining thrills from everyday life: A woman is set aflame by the thought of men with flat stomachs; another imagines talking to her mother on the phone while doing it.
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Friday did so without the institutional affiliations that Kinsey, Masters & Johnson, and Dr.