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Want Me: A Sex Writer's Journey into the Heart of Desire

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"Want Me is complicated, fun, shocking, and heart-warming all at once." —Jessica Valenti, New York Times bestselling author of Sex Object "Intimate, challenging, and so very smart. Want Me is a gift." —Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad A prominent sex journalist shares the confusing, funny, and sometimes painful moments that shaped her young a "Want Me is complicated, fun, shocking, and heart-warming all at once." —Jessica Valenti, New York Times bestselling author of Sex Object "Intimate, challenging, and so very smart. Want Me is a gift." —Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad A prominent sex journalist shares the confusing, funny, and sometimes painful moments that shaped her young adulthood, offering an honest look at sex and culture for modern young women. Tracy Clark-Flory grew up wedged between fizzy declarations of "girl power" and the sexualized mandates of pop culture. It was "broken glass ceilings" and Girls Gone Wild infomercials. With a vague aim toward sexual empowerment, she set out to become what men wanted--or, at least, understand it. In her moving, fresh, and darkly humorous memoir, she shares the thrilling and heartbreaking events that led to discovering conflicting truths about her own desire, first as a woman coming of age and then as a veteran journalist covering the sex beat. Tracing her experiences on adult film sets, at fetish conventions, and during an orgasmic meditation retreat (to name just a few), Clark-Flory weaves in statistics and expert voices to reckon with our views on sexual freedom. Want Me is about looking for love, sex, and power as a woman in a culture that is "freer" than ever, yet defined by unprecedented pressures and enduring constraints. This is a first-hand example of one woman who navigated the mixed messages of sexual expectation, only to discover the complexity of her own wants and our collective need to change the limitations of that journey.


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"Want Me is complicated, fun, shocking, and heart-warming all at once." —Jessica Valenti, New York Times bestselling author of Sex Object "Intimate, challenging, and so very smart. Want Me is a gift." —Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad A prominent sex journalist shares the confusing, funny, and sometimes painful moments that shaped her young a "Want Me is complicated, fun, shocking, and heart-warming all at once." —Jessica Valenti, New York Times bestselling author of Sex Object "Intimate, challenging, and so very smart. Want Me is a gift." —Rebecca Traister, New York Times bestselling author of Good and Mad A prominent sex journalist shares the confusing, funny, and sometimes painful moments that shaped her young adulthood, offering an honest look at sex and culture for modern young women. Tracy Clark-Flory grew up wedged between fizzy declarations of "girl power" and the sexualized mandates of pop culture. It was "broken glass ceilings" and Girls Gone Wild infomercials. With a vague aim toward sexual empowerment, she set out to become what men wanted--or, at least, understand it. In her moving, fresh, and darkly humorous memoir, she shares the thrilling and heartbreaking events that led to discovering conflicting truths about her own desire, first as a woman coming of age and then as a veteran journalist covering the sex beat. Tracing her experiences on adult film sets, at fetish conventions, and during an orgasmic meditation retreat (to name just a few), Clark-Flory weaves in statistics and expert voices to reckon with our views on sexual freedom. Want Me is about looking for love, sex, and power as a woman in a culture that is "freer" than ever, yet defined by unprecedented pressures and enduring constraints. This is a first-hand example of one woman who navigated the mixed messages of sexual expectation, only to discover the complexity of her own wants and our collective need to change the limitations of that journey.

30 review for Want Me: A Sex Writer's Journey into the Heart of Desire

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Delgadillo

    This book was fun to read. I remember reading Clark-Flory's columns when she was with Salon and was drawn to her curious and candid style. I was becoming an adult then and didn't have someone to discuss my own curiosities with. Now years later, it was like reading an old friend who generously shares her adventures in giving in to curiosity. There's a lot of bravery here too: in trying things, in changing one's mind, in looking back and seeing more clearly what is what. It's comforting to find a This book was fun to read. I remember reading Clark-Flory's columns when she was with Salon and was drawn to her curious and candid style. I was becoming an adult then and didn't have someone to discuss my own curiosities with. Now years later, it was like reading an old friend who generously shares her adventures in giving in to curiosity. There's a lot of bravery here too: in trying things, in changing one's mind, in looking back and seeing more clearly what is what. It's comforting to find a voice that feels honest and willing to do the homework (bringing various feminist points of view into the picture) that also embraces human fallibility and metamorphic potential as facets in fine tuning the understanding of one's desires.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina Spellman

    As someone who briefly published accounts from her sex life online, I can empathize with some small piece of the bravery it takes to publish honest writing about deeply personal topics. I am so grateful that Tracy has that courage. I'm reading the last 30 pages of Want Me and trying not to cry or scream since I'm (ill-advisedly 🦠) in a coworking space right now. (As I just texted a friend, "the last 30 pages of this book are making me want to cry and scream and embrace the author".) So, instead, As someone who briefly published accounts from her sex life online, I can empathize with some small piece of the bravery it takes to publish honest writing about deeply personal topics. I am so grateful that Tracy has that courage. I'm reading the last 30 pages of Want Me and trying not to cry or scream since I'm (ill-advisedly 🦠) in a coworking space right now. (As I just texted a friend, "the last 30 pages of this book are making me want to cry and scream and embrace the author".) So, instead, the emotions are running back and forth from my head to my feet like a chemical game of pong. I'm telling myself that I should at least do the author the courtesy of finishing her book before I post this review...and yet the heightened emotions have gotten the better of me, so here I am. Sorry! I picked up Want Me after reading Do the Patriarchy to Me in Jezebel. I have a lot of disempowering fantasies that I harbor shame for, and I've been craving a frank discourse on the internal friction I feel between the ideas that progressive people should embrace their kinks and that empowered women (among whom I tenuously stand) shouldn't wanted to be "degraded" in bed. I'm a trans woman partnered with an ungendered person who has a woman's lived experiences, and I wish that being partnered with her somehow allowed me a loophole out of that mental bind. Instead, we must deal with all the shoulds and shouldn'ts that we've each individually internalized. After all, for being trans, for being pansexual, for being polyamorous, in society's eyes we're both whores. I guess that makes our apartment a whorehouse? :P Want Me gave me the discourse I needed and so much more. I came for a chat about sex and shame. I stayed for the raw treatise on gender and relationships and grief and privilege and life itself. I cried reading about how Tracy dealt with her mother's illness and death. I punched the air joyously reading about how she fell in love and awe with her body when she was pregnant and after. (And maybe felt a bit jealous - I've often wondered whether I'd have wanted to have children if I were cis.) I laughed throughout at her honest commentary about herself, society, porn, the mind, and - especially - men and our tense but unavoidable relation to them. Every other day I feel like I'm going to go mad. I'm bursting to the brim with unresolved conflicts and untreated raw nerves and yet I must make myself sit at a desk and get a headless version of Chrome to run on an Ubuntu Docker image. (Who knows what that means, or rather, who cares.) This memoir has acted as a sort of medication for me, helping me push further into the future that moment at which I may leap up, cut off my hair, don tattered black clothing, and stalk the halls of some parliament building weeping and wailing of the end of days. I'm grateful to Tracy for giving me a vaccine against patriarchy because tbh I think I need it more than one for COVID

  3. 5 out of 5

    Anna Pulley

    An excellent, smart, and accessible narrative, in-bedded with wit, candor, and occasional Magic Mike references. Top shelf.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Susie Dumond

    Tracy Clark-Flory was raised by feminist parents in a world obsessed with sex. Professionally, she's a journalist who writes about sex, leading her to attend many unusual events and interview interesting people. Personally, her own experience with sex and sexuality is complicated in different ways. In this memoir, Clark-Flory traces her own sexual journey alongside her career, as well as the feminist theory and pop culture moments that shaped the way she looks at sex. Written with humor, honesty Tracy Clark-Flory was raised by feminist parents in a world obsessed with sex. Professionally, she's a journalist who writes about sex, leading her to attend many unusual events and interview interesting people. Personally, her own experience with sex and sexuality is complicated in different ways. In this memoir, Clark-Flory traces her own sexual journey alongside her career, as well as the feminist theory and pop culture moments that shaped the way she looks at sex. Written with humor, honesty, and a lot of heart, this memoir is a wonderfully endearing journey. Clark-Flory understands that the personal is political, interweaving feminist and sex theory with her own experiences seamlessly. Want Me beautifully shows the power of vulnerability. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Elissa Bassist

    For anyone wondering if it's "just you" struggling with sex, desire, and pleasure in patriarchy, this is your book. It's equal parts funny, tender, and whip-smart, and author-cum-journalist Clark-Flory expertly weaves memoir with criticism to give us insight into the sexual revolution still left unfinished. 6 out of 5 stars. For anyone wondering if it's "just you" struggling with sex, desire, and pleasure in patriarchy, this is your book. It's equal parts funny, tender, and whip-smart, and author-cum-journalist Clark-Flory expertly weaves memoir with criticism to give us insight into the sexual revolution still left unfinished. 6 out of 5 stars.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ella Dawson

    I already know this book will live rent-free in my head for the next six weeks. Tracy Clark-Flory delves into porn, relationships and gender politics with the keen eye of a culture critic, and she doesn’t shy away from the sticky underbelly of sex. If you’re a millennial woman who grew up amid the raunch culture of the 90s and early 20s, you’ll see way more of your sexual development reflected in Want Me than you can even imagine. She unpacks her relationship to sex with unflinching honesty, par I already know this book will live rent-free in my head for the next six weeks. Tracy Clark-Flory delves into porn, relationships and gender politics with the keen eye of a culture critic, and she doesn’t shy away from the sticky underbelly of sex. If you’re a millennial woman who grew up amid the raunch culture of the 90s and early 20s, you’ll see way more of your sexual development reflected in Want Me than you can even imagine. She unpacks her relationship to sex with unflinching honesty, parsing the way she conflated her desire and pleasure with being seen as desirable by men. Get ready to feel angry, embarrassed and relieved all at once. Clark-Flory is one of the best sex writers of our generation and I'm so glad she wrote this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Melinda

    Being just a little older than the author, I felt seen? validated? by how much I recognized in her “coming of sexual age” stories. From a fascination with “Real Sex” on HBO, to tentative early internet interactions with men, to my youthful convictions about my own sexual agency, it seems we have (or had) a fair amount in common as teenage girls. The book gave me a different lens through which to view my own experiences, whether or not I fully subscribe to her interpretations. What I most appreci Being just a little older than the author, I felt seen? validated? by how much I recognized in her “coming of sexual age” stories. From a fascination with “Real Sex” on HBO, to tentative early internet interactions with men, to my youthful convictions about my own sexual agency, it seems we have (or had) a fair amount in common as teenage girls. The book gave me a different lens through which to view my own experiences, whether or not I fully subscribe to her interpretations. What I most appreciated was the tone, too often missing in memoir-investigations of this nature. She’s not saying “here, I’ve figured this out for you” but rather “here, I’ve figured something out for myself, and perhaps it’ll resonate.” It did. I’ll be thinking about this book for a while.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Natalia B

    The prologue and last third of the book were brilliant. Sometimes the rest was uneven—my main complaint was that there were way too many quotations. It read like a research paper or dissertation instead of a memoir. I wanted more heart and more personal reactions and I got that towards the end of the book with the author’s marriage, the death of her mother, and her pregnancy (all depicted absolutely beautifully). I did lose interest a bit in the middle of the book and sometimes the writing seeme The prologue and last third of the book were brilliant. Sometimes the rest was uneven—my main complaint was that there were way too many quotations. It read like a research paper or dissertation instead of a memoir. I wanted more heart and more personal reactions and I got that towards the end of the book with the author’s marriage, the death of her mother, and her pregnancy (all depicted absolutely beautifully). I did lose interest a bit in the middle of the book and sometimes the writing seemed self-indulgent. But overall it was a well-written, thoughtful, and analytical book and I appreciated it. I feel like I gained new perspectives on sex.

  9. 4 out of 5

    David Lum

    I value this book for the same reason I value other biographies: it gives me empathy into an experience drastically different than my own. In this case I get to learn about a female sex writer who spent much of her life obsessed with porn! A lot of people will be put off by Clark-Flory's language and subject matter. I found it surprising but not shocking. I remember reading some of Clark-Flory's pieces in Salon.com almost 20 years ago, and it's why I picked this book up: I liked her writing then I value this book for the same reason I value other biographies: it gives me empathy into an experience drastically different than my own. In this case I get to learn about a female sex writer who spent much of her life obsessed with porn! A lot of people will be put off by Clark-Flory's language and subject matter. I found it surprising but not shocking. I remember reading some of Clark-Flory's pieces in Salon.com almost 20 years ago, and it's why I picked this book up: I liked her writing then and I like it now. However, for me a long form piece like this was not as captivating as some of her short writings, so I can't give this super-high marks.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Danner

    Want me is an interesting book that details the author's sexual past and experiences, as she navigates what it means to wanting to be desired, having sex after growing up with easy access to porn, and the different sexual pressures that are put on to women now in days. The book gave a very interesting perspective, which then led to me self examine my own perspectives and experiences about the subject matter. Highly recommend this book, especially for women in their twenties. Want me is an interesting book that details the author's sexual past and experiences, as she navigates what it means to wanting to be desired, having sex after growing up with easy access to porn, and the different sexual pressures that are put on to women now in days. The book gave a very interesting perspective, which then led to me self examine my own perspectives and experiences about the subject matter. Highly recommend this book, especially for women in their twenties.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    Mostly her life was sad. I couldn't relate to her, her world or her goals. I was expecting to learn more about the porn industry or life as a journalist or the relationship between feminism and sexuality and contemporary culture, but mostly a tedious narration of her unmotivated rebellion against conventions. She changes through out but there aren't any general conclusions that can be applied to other people. Mostly her life was sad. I couldn't relate to her, her world or her goals. I was expecting to learn more about the porn industry or life as a journalist or the relationship between feminism and sexuality and contemporary culture, but mostly a tedious narration of her unmotivated rebellion against conventions. She changes through out but there aren't any general conclusions that can be applied to other people.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Danielle Hidalgo

    I love memoirs and this one, like every article I’ve ever read by Clark-Flory, is riveting and just wonderful. I’m still thinking about it and can’t wait to read it with my sexuality class next semester. While it will generate questions and complicated discussions about sexual desire, feminism, and navigating gender in our everyday lives, it also ends with so much clarity. I know my students are going to appreciate that and want to talk about their own journeys, too. I couldn’t recommend this bo I love memoirs and this one, like every article I’ve ever read by Clark-Flory, is riveting and just wonderful. I’m still thinking about it and can’t wait to read it with my sexuality class next semester. While it will generate questions and complicated discussions about sexual desire, feminism, and navigating gender in our everyday lives, it also ends with so much clarity. I know my students are going to appreciate that and want to talk about their own journeys, too. I couldn’t recommend this book more and feel my own bit of clarity as I reflect on everything Clark-Flory shared with us. I should also add that everything she shared about loss and grief gave me so much comfort, especially after losing my Dad to cancer last December. Doing my best these days and this book certainly made some of those days easier.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline Francis

    Very fascinating book. I was left with so many questions—but the author did a very good job of relaying the realities of today’s sex culture. I honestly think we just don’t know the answers to all of our questions yet, which is frustrating but all too real. I received an advanced copy from the publisher.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Tracy asks the questions that I didn’t even know I needed the answers to. I found this book extremely relatable and it stirred up my own questions about desirability and just whose satisfaction I’ve been after. This book offers great research into femininity and male gaze, raw honesty, courageous self reflection and effortless humor- Want Me had me wanting more!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Interesting to read her journey through the coverage of the porn industry and how she finds herself at the end!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ismael

    Better than expected. Mostly because I didn't know what to expect. Better than expected. Mostly because I didn't know what to expect.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James Wright

    Outstanding mix of personal narrative and gender theory. The story was compelling and the prose was engaging.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melisa

    Loooved this book! such an important read on self discovery, feminism and what it means to be sexually empowered in today’s society.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ys

  20. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Fieldman

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maddie Schiff

  22. 4 out of 5

    Lynn Kloythanomsup

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ciara Murphy

  24. 5 out of 5

    Audacia Ray

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shana Yates

  26. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

  27. 5 out of 5

    Anissa

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sara Leonard

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