Review of “The Sex Diaries Project”

the sex diary projectThere’s probably no better place to reflect on and talk with ourselves about sex and relationships than between the covers of our personal journal.

Of course sex is an integral part our nature, it influences how we feel about ourselves and those we have a relationship with. Sex can be both blissful, energizing, kinky, and sometimes dangerous and hurtful. And for good or bad it’s a subject that’s very difficult to talk with other people about. But in our journal, writing about sex can be a different matter. If we’re being honest in our journal writing, and keeping our journals secure, it can be the best place to think about our sexual fantasies, experiences, and challenges.

Of the dozen or so books I’ve read about journaling keeping, I found Arianne Cohen’s The Sex Diaries Project: What We’re Saying about What We’re Doing an engaging opportunity to peer into a collection of personal diary entries about sex, written by a range of people—married, single, homosexual, divorced, young and old, and even asexual. However, this book is more than about sex, it’s about relationships and how we deal with them.

Cohen collected some 1,500 sex diaries for a column she edited between  2007 to 2010. The pages of diaries are not filled with heavy pornographic stories — though some passages are graphic and frank.

The diarists confess almost everything you might imagine, (e.g., “I masturbated thinking about him. It was good. I masturbate almost daily. I use my fingers, outside my underwear. It’s weird, but it works for me.” And, “When I see a female, the first thing that crosses my mind is, ‘What are my chances?'”)

Being Honest in Our Writing

What’s also important about theses diary entries is the honesty in the writing. The diary entries don’t feel contrived. Some collections are very touching and emotional, while others, especially by men, are disrespectful and outright misogynist toward women. But the frankness of the diary entries are what we should expect from the pages of private writings. This collection is a rare opportunity to read the private writings of other people.

Woven between the collections of diary entries are Cohen’s own observations and reflections about what she learned from the diarists. She grouped the diary collections based shared themes, including those who go solo, to those who indulge in polyamorous relationships. These titles she gives to individual diary collections provide ideas of the range of personal   personal experiences included in the book: “The Lovesick Texan Who Is a Hot Mess with the Girlfriend He Mistakenly Dumbed.” “The Successful New Soulmate Is Dying.” “The Madly-InLove-17-Year-Old Who Might Be Pregnant.” “The Marketing Guy Hosting His Hot Long-Distance Boyfriend For The Weekend.” “The Editor Considering Walking Out On Her Husband On Easter Weekend.”

Though The Sex Diaries Project is about a titillating subject, I chose to share the book on this site because the collection conveys what I think is important about being honest, open, and direct in journal writing. We shouldn’t have to hold back in our writing, even if it means someday destroying our journals to keep others from reading them.

The Sex Diaries Project should inspire you to write about your own experiences without the need to share what you write. Your journal is your secret place to be as real as you possibly can about any subject.

Let me know what you think about the subject of sex and journal writing. Is this subject a part of journal keeping? Is it difficult to write about? Is it helpful?

 

 

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Bakari Chavanu

is the creator of NaJoWriMo, and is the author of the interactive iBook, Starting From Day One: Using the Day One Journaling App to Record and Enrich Your Life
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