Sex Writing Is Only Cheap If You Make It That WayS

Anna Davies wanted to make a name for herself, so she wrote about her sexual encounters, viewing it as an "easy" path toward getting published. But now she wants to be a "real" writer. Whatever that means.

In the piece she penned for Salon—about wanting to break out of this slutty literary box she'd created for herself—it's clear that Davies never took sex writing seriously, but rather saw it as a gimmick, a surefire way for an aspiring female writer (who actually considered Carrie Bradshaw as an inspiration) to get some attention, saying:

After college, I dated around, but I wasn't looking for love, I was looking for experiences. I'd do anything—or anyone—if that could somehow translate into a moment of transcendence worthy of writing about.

And it worked for her. Her confessional stories appeared in the New York Times, Marie Claire, and Seventeen to name a few. She was paid for her work by these formidable publications. So how, exactly, does that not constitute "real" writing? The answer, perhaps, is in Davies' own definition of the term, which is probably heavily influenced by status anxiety (a common problem among young writers).

Maybe Davies acquired that "cheapened feeling" over her published work due to her own insincerity. Because she is a real writer. But she's not a real slut. She says:

Sometimes, I felt like I wasn't living my life so much as directing it, especially on a Friday night when I zeroed in on a guy at the opposite end of the bar. Following a new acquaintance up the stairs to his apartment, holding his hand and feeling the rush of too many drinks in my brain, sentences would already begin to form in my mind—as calm, detached and sober-sounding as the narration in a public television documentary.

Instead of earnestly documenting genuine experiences, Davies was orchestrating them, in a calculated move, to later sell. When you fuck for fun, you're a slut. When you fuck for money, you're a whore.

As someone who has written her share of sordid sex stories—under the pseudonym "Slut Machine"—I have no problem with sluts or whores. But it would seem that Davies does, equating sex writing with stripping, implying that neither are an honest way to make a living:

If I wanted to be a real writer—and, hell, find a real relationship, I needed to stop pole dancing for dollar bills and quietly figure out who I was.

Writing a navel-gazing piece about the highs and pitfalls of being a sex writer and not a "real" writer is ironic in that it's really no different than sex writing. It's all about "ins and outs." It's all confessional. Delineating subject matters (or occupations) into "respectable" and "not respectable" is insulting and snobbish.

And while I think that the notion that sex writing isn't a valid form of literature is offensive, I also think that it's admirable that Davies admits that she found that writing about sex for a living was problematic for her personal life, because what few people understand is that writing about being easy can sometimes be difficult, when it comes to romantic relationships. And that's exactly why sex writing shouldn't be viewed as an effortless means to notoriety. It's actually laborious, you know, work.

When it comes to sex writing—much like with sex—it's important that a person does it for reasons beyond the attention it could bring. Because either way, a woman who documents her sexual encounters will be accused of being an attention whore (among things), and in order to survive that kind of criticism, she has to know that's not true.

I'm done writing about my sex life [Salon]