As a woman, I feel pretty confident saying that most women have issues with porn—note that I said most not all—especially those of us who fancy ourselves even the teensiest bit feminist. But have any of us really sat and thought long and hard (no pun intended) about it? What exactly makes us uncomfortable? What is or isn’t feminist about porn? There are many arguments on this topic, any Google search will throw hundreds of books, articles, journals, and studies about the various facets of porn and its effects.

Emily Southwood was confronted with all of this and more when her then fiance (now husband) took a job as cinematographer for a reality show about porn. Her memoir, Prude: Lessons I Learned When My Fiance Filmed Porn, is not only a personal tale of coming face to face (sometimes face to other body parts) with the porn industry but also a backward glancing cultural critique of porn itself. Through her fresh and vivacious point of view, Emily gives readers a blow-by-blow (ok, now I’m being gratuitous with the puns. I’ll stop) of every aspect of her experience, from stories of actual events to all of her thoughts and feelings during the nearly year-long ordeal.

I love this book for many reasons, but the first and formost of those reasons is it made me feel a little less crazy myself. I know that if I had been in Emily’s situation, I would have reacted the exact same way. I may not have a fiance filming extreme sexual acts on the daily, but I certainly have my issues that I obsess about. My thought patterns match hers to a tee, and it was lovely to know that I’m not alone in my neurotic thought patterns. Second, this book made me start to think about porn and my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Who knows, I might even have go at opening up a dialogue with my guy about it. And third, I love this book because it accomplished what I think is the most important task of a memoir—making me feel like I really got to know, and could even be friends with, the author.

Through her unflinchingly honest retelling of this unique time in her life, Emily Southwood made me think about and often laugh at a topic that too often gets filed under “Too Awkward to Talk About.” Prude is a bold step toward starting a dialogue with women about porn, as well as a hilarious and touching memoir of that oh so special time in a girl’s life. You know, when the man of her dreams finally pops the question and then sweeps her away to Hollywood to film gang bangs. *Sigh* It’s magical!


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