KEPT WOMEN by Leslie with Ted Schwarz McRay


Email this review


Goodbye, feminism--hello, sugar daddy. The dozens of ""kept women"" interviewed for this sometimes fascinating account have given up lucrative jobs to become globetrotting mistresses of the rich and famous. A biographical note tells us that McRay (here aided by prolific professional writer Schwarz, coauthor of Lukezic's False Arrest, reviewed above) ""runs a support group in Los Angeles for women trying to leave the kept lifestyle."" She used to be a successful model capable of pulling in a tidy six-figure income, and a woman who, she says, ""spent more than twenty years as a kept woman, going from man to man to man. My sense of self-worth came from riding in Rolls Royces, limousines and private jets."" She gave away the money she earned ""bemuse money meant independence and independence meant an absence of love."" A slew of other women also report on arrangements, ranging from the run-of-the-mill (apartment and allowance provided by a successful businessman) to the exotic (being pursued by the Shah of Iran; an affair with an S&M-prone US senator). Therapists root the need to be kept, McRay tells us, in childhood: a consequence of sexual abuse and, often, a remote or absent father. As adults, these women retain a deep wish for constant proof of a daddy-equivalent's love, coupled with a fear of commitment. For the casual reader, there's voyeuristic interest here in the nuts and bolts of the mistress-for-money life-style and in the not entirely predictable sexual dynamics of these ""relationships"" (some of the men are selfish and/or rough in bed, others thrive on giving pleasure). But the book seems at least partially cast as self-help for the kept (a final chapter describes kick-the-habit resources), and the extremely repetitive pop-psych-driven commentary is often wearying. Still: a readable and mildly eye-opening look at a little-discussed subset of sexual politics.

Pub Date: Jan. 30th, 1989
ISBN: 1587760398
Publisher: Morrow