Book Review: Daddy, A Memoir

Image description: the book rests on a bed of lush green grass. The cover features a tangle of rope on a wood floor. Toward the top we see an outstretched arm and just a bit of a rope body harness and a swirl of red hair.


The moment I saw kink porn performer and feminist artist Madison Young’s personal motto, “Reveal all, fear nothing,” I wanted to read her book. The book was released in 2013 by Rare Bird Books and I picked it up shortly after. The book features an introduction by Annie Sprinkle.

The narration of this book is purple-prose poetic at times but overall very personable, like the author 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 of the book are the ones I enjoyed the most.


Anyone with a thing for rope, age play, and pushing the envelope in kink will likely relate to many aspects of the book. Kindred spirits looking to explore erotic or performance art will glean insight from Young’s experience. And her voice as an erotic performer is valuable and I’m happy she was able to share her story in this way.


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…


I felt many times while reading this book that the author was just floating around, reacting to whatever was happening to her at the time without much forethought. Sadly, many sections of Young’s book read like a bad celebrity memoir – 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 many of us go through. But without reflection and seizing upon the fruits of the experience in order to make more balanced and informed decisions, by the end as a reader I was left feeling as though the author will simply bumble into another series of potentially harmful and unfulfilling episodes of her life.


Perhaps I am being too harsh on Young. After all, this book is a memoir not a sex education book. I really do respect her for writing the book and revealing very dark times in her life. And I’m not saying she didn’t learn anything – she did grow in many ways. 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.


Which brings me to question—do 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? Should we share our mistakes only if we have solid lessons and advice to go with them?


My answer is complicated but ultimately, no. Everyone’s experiences are different and advice that is gold for one person may be disastrous for another. Not everything is perfect, but sharing our stories and experiences is still important.


Thus my takeaway from this book is that as personal memoir it is a chance to share emotion and experience of another person, so we might be able to not feel so alone in our own stories.

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