My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies Summary & Study Guide

This Study Guide consists of approximately 29 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of My Secret Garden.
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My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies Summary & Study Guide Description

My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies by Nancy Friday.

My Secret Garden: Women's Sexual Fantasies is a classic book by the writer Nancy Friday. When the book was first published in the seventies, it was highly controversial and condemned by leaders of the growing feminist movement. The book contains actual fantasies that real women have had, each one used to illustrate an element of the sexual fantasy. Nancy Friday intended the book to be a reassurance to all women that fantasy is normal and a healthy part of any sexual relationship. My Secret Garden is still controversial in some corners of the world, but its republication and high sales prove that fantasy touches the lives of all women, even those who are still afraid to admit to them.

The author, Nancy Friday, begins her book by describing a fantasy she once shared with a lover and his negative reaction to the idea that she was thinking of another man while engaged in sexual activity with him. This episode led Ms. Friday to wonder if having fantasies was abnormal and whether other women indulged in them. Ms. Friday began talking to her friends about fantasy and soon the idea for this book was born. Ms. Friday begins her book in this fashion in order to dispel the myth that not only do women not fantasize, but those who do are not normal. This myth, Ms. Friday came to realize in her research, was completely false. More women than those who will admit to it do fantasize.

Ms. Friday goes on to discuss the reasons why women fantasize. There are a number of reasons for a woman to fantasize. Some do it because their lover is inadequate, unable or unwilling to seek sexual satisfaction for their women. Others do it to enhance the experience of love making with their mate. Still others believe that fantasy can act as a sort of foreplay to the physical act. Some women fantasize in order to find the approval lacking in their intimate relationships while others do it because it is a safe way to explore sexual play in which they might not be willing to indulge in reality. Finally, some women fantasize to pass the day or to have a focus for masturbation, while others are simply unsatisfied in their reality.

Once Ms. Friday establishes the reasons why women fantasize, she begins to explore the themes that are present in almost every woman's fantasies. Ms. Friday presents sixteen themes that have been common to all the fantasies presented to her in her research for this book. These themes include being made love to by a stranger, or in front of an audience. Others include women who like to imagine being raped or physically beaten, while others like the idea of being completely dominated by a sexual partner. In that same vein, some themes include the idea of losing control or doing something that is completely forbidden, while others include the theme of transformation. Ms. Friday also suggests that some fantasies revolve around the idea of being motherly, caring for a lover, or even committing incest with various family members. Some of the more inventive themes include the use of animals or men outside of the woman's race, as well as young men or women. Finally, Ms. Friday includes the themes of fetishes and prostitution, but points out to her readers that only one woman spoke of a fetish and no women who responded to her request for fantasies mentioned the idea of being a prostitute, despite the fact that most experts believe prostitution is the most common theme of a woman's fantasies.

Next, Ms. Friday tackles the source of most women's fantasies. Ms. Friday explores the idea that a lot of women draw material for their fantasies from early childhood experiences, such as the first time a woman saw a naked man. Ms. Friday also insists that many women are more visual than experts give them credit for, becoming equally aroused at the sight of a naked man as a man might at the sight of a naked woman. Ms. Friday also explores the idea of guilt as a part of a woman's fantasy, suggesting that while a woman may feel guilty for the thoughts that come with her fantasy, these fantasies rarely include shame as many women have grown to believe they should. Ms. Friday also tackles the subject of a man's anxiety when made aware of his lover's fantasies and how this can add to the guilt a woman feels during or after indulging in fantasy.

Finally, Ms. Friday discusses the acceptance of fantasy. Ms. Friday interviewed and received letters from many women who were not only happy with their fantasies, but would often act them out either with a lover or on their own. Ms. Friday does not necessarily encourage a woman to act out her fantasies and she does not always advocate sharing them with one's lover. However, Ms. Friday feels that if a woman feels secure enough in her relationship and the safety of her fantasies, that no one should stop a woman from sharing her fantasies or acting them out. Ms. Friday ends her book with a short chapter on what she calls quickies, short fantasies that women shared with her and she in turn shares with her readers.

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