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Book Review: Daddy, a Memoir by Madison Young

I knew I wanted to read kink porn performer and feminist artist Madison Young’s memoir when I heard her personal motto, “Reveal all, fear nothing.” The motto really struck me as the secret kinky sex blogger I am.

The narration of this book is purple-prose poetic at times but overall very personable, like she was having coffee with me and telling me her story. She tells of her life as an outcast girl-scout, a child of a dysfunctional Midwest family, her journey to California to become a feminist artist and her foray into kink porn and her Power Exchange relationship with her partner, her Daddy.

While all that is sensational enough, Young also writes quite endearingly of her experience becoming a mother and the deep friendships she forges with other feminist artists and activists. These parts are the ones I enjoyed the most.

Anyone with a thing for rope, age play, and pushing their limits in kink will likely relate to many aspects of the book.

Now for the side of the book I didn’t like so much, which I suppose is a matter of philosophy. Let me explain. Be warned, a bit of a *spoiler alert* if you continue reading…

At the end of the book, I was expecting Young to seize the moment – to reflect on how far she had come, how much she had learned, how much more steady and mature her experiences had made her. That was, however, not the case. Near the end of the book is a scene where the author talks via video conference with her therapist, worried about the revealing nature of the book and how the author knows she is not the kind of hero so many people are looking for.

Now. I respect her honesty. Everyone has ups and downs and insecurities and needs to fall down to get back up. But on the other side I feel any figure speaking as an authority in sexuality – a sex educator, blogger, or even, yes, artist – has an obligation to seriously reflect on the past and recognize when they could have put more thought into things. For example, I felt many times while reading that Young was just floating around, reacting to whatever was happening to her at the time without much forethought. As I said before, this happens to all of us. But do writers of sexuality give up the right to be so reactionary when we step out and tell our stories?

Because sadly, many sections of Young’s book read like a bad celebrity memoir – there is drugs, infidelity, and a couple chapters could have been titled, “This is What Unhealthy Relationships Look Like.” Which on one hand is fine – she is revealing very sensitive times in her life, times all of us go through. But without reflection and seizing upon the fruits of the experience in order to make more balanced and informed decisions, one is left feeling as though the author will simply bumble into another series of potentially harmful and unfulfilling episodes of her life.

I guess I just want people to know that you can be a sex-radical kinky artist type without the stereotypical drugs, manipulative relationships, and therapy sessions. And if you do experience these things, you can acknowledge that they happened, outline what you learned, and set some new boundaries for yourself.

Perhaps I am being too harsh on Young. After all, I really respect her for writing the book and revealing very dark times in her life. I’m not saying she didn’t learn anything – she certainly did. I just still was left with a feeling that there was more fruit to be harvested from her story and at the end of the book part of me was hungry for more.

To those who have read the book, what is your take on Young’s journey? To everyone, do you think sex bloggers, artists, educators etc. need to hold themselves to a higher standard in self reflection and treat their own lives as lessons for others?


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