Loose Girl Review
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I’m fond of memoirs—and not just those about the rich, famous, or historic. But if you’re going to write a memoir, then teach me something—or at least enlighten me. After all, with all the memoirs out there, why should I read yours? What do you want me to know, and what do you expect me to gain from reading about your life? After reading Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity, these questions still remain unanswered.

From the time she was 11 years old, Kerry Cohen realized that she could use her body to get attention from boys. Her parents had broken up, and Cohen lived with her overly permissive father—who thought it was cool to hang out and get high with his daughter’s friends—while her mother took off to the Philippines to attend medical school.

Suffering from low self-esteem, Cohen has sex with just about every male she meets, whether she likes him or not, so she can feel wanted. But her neediness drives them all away. (Why buy the cow, after all, when you can get the milk for free?)

Cohen tells of going to the doctor to be treated for STDs, scabies, crabs, fear of pregnancy, and rape (which would be enough to put me off the whole sleeping around thing), but she doesn’t seem to be fazed by it. Despite it all, she continues her errant behavior into adulthood, claiming that her want for attention is an addiction.

So why did she write the book? Heck if I knew. And then I came across a blog post that Cohen wrote:

“Maybe, just maybe, had the neediness I carried as a child not felt so terribly shameful and ugly—so taboo, I wouldn’t have walked down the path I did. Maybe if I hadn’t spent so much energy trying to hide my need for attention, the need wouldn’t have slipped out beneath and become such a blatant, self-harming part of my past. But it was. And so I wrote the story. Is the book evidence of my continued need for attention? Possibly. But if trying to get attention for a story that I honestly believe will help other people is my current crime, I’ll accept guilt. Perhaps by doing so, other people will find ways to direct their need for attention in better, more fulfilling ways.”

I guess I’ll take her word for it, though it wasn’t really that evident in the book. After reading Loose Girl, I expected to be able to hand the book to a young girl and say, “Read this, and learn from it.” Maybe I expected too much—I mean, anyone with any intelligence doesn’t need Kerry Cohen to scream out from her book, “Don’t do this! Don’t be like me!” And it’s a good thing, too, because she doesn’t—although there were many subliminal messages (STD scares, pregnancy, being used by boys/men). Her writing is cold and detached; she drones on, assigning blame where she feels it belongs (on her parents).

While I believe Kerry Cohen has a story to tell, I found no lessons here. On the contrary, the ending scared me, because I don’t think she’s resolved anything with respect to her “addiction.” In fact, she ends it on an “Oh, well…I guess we’ll wait and see if I can stop sleeping around” note—and it left me fearing for her marriage.

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