An illicit memoir that reflects on sex, relationships, psychological and social theories, and advocacy.
Psychologist and sex therapist Jay Kinsey Ehnn—a pseudonym, the middle name likely an homage to his adolescent hero Alfred Kinsey—attracts and repulses with his multipurpose agenda: to recount, analyze, entertain, shock, inform, instruct and improve both himself and the reader. From the first sentence, he tells his story without inhibition, in a casual, strongly male register: “1938 was the year I got my penis”—meaning the year he was born. Raised on a Nebraska farm by good but strictly religious and unaffectionate parents, typical of the time and place, Ehnn links the trajectory of his sexual narrative to emotional distance and a dearth of guidance and communication. Among the book’s most repeated concerns are the liberation of sexual expression from repressive morality and a push for universal sex education. In particular, the author describes a typical experience for a male “late bloomer” in the ’40s and ’50s of Midwestern America: innate curiosity, preoccupation with sex, frequent masturbation and an active fantasy life. Sometimes, Ehnn says, there’s early learning from—and in some cases, practice with—farm animals. As a young adult, the author also experienced an exploitative same-sex relationship that may have sensitized him to similar abuses. What the author calls “Natural Sex”—polygamy, since women are supposedly inclined to enjoy multiple male partners at once—might be problematic for some readers, in addition to his ideas about abortion, evolutionary biology and rape. In his fourth marriage, the author now lives in a communicative, healthy relationship with a woman, but both the autobiographical and rhetorical passages tend to objectify women in two-dimensional depictions that border on misogyny. The cloudy alloy of personal and professional opinion seems rarely based on scientific evidence, which makes some of the dubious assertions difficult to read.
Fascinating and candid, but specious and disputable.