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April 26, 2011

"I Kept A Secret Sex Blog"

At the beginning of the month we attended MOMENTUM, a conference on sexuality, feminism, relationships and social media. At the conference, one of the sessions we attended was on the pros and cons of anonymity with sex/dating bloggers on 'both sides of the coin'. Although we are not technically a sex blog (making fun of Cosmo's sex tips doesn't completely count) we are still currently semi-anonymous and we found the discussion in the conference to be very interesting.

As always, when we travel, we had purchased a copy of Cosmopolitan to read during the trip. The same day that we attended the session with anonymous sex bloggers, we flipped open to an article in the 'Naughtiest Thing I've Ever Done' section (eyeroll) entitled 'I Kept A Secret Sex Blog'. Ah, synchronicity. However, we were kind of annoyed by a lot of the content in that article. (Maybe the author, Cari Wira, should have attended MOMENTUM.)
When my boss asked me to blog anonymously about my sex life for the Website of the magazine where I worked, I jumped at the chance. Not only was I psyched to branch out from my editing duties, but I imagined myself as a next-generation, just-married Carrie Bradshaw. And maybe, if I was super racy and held nothing back, I could even get a book and a movie deal!

Immediately, I began brainstorming topics and drafting entries about my bikini-wax preferences and how I fantasized about christening every corner of the house we'd just purchased. But in my enthusiasm, there was one person I kept totally out of the loop: David, my sweet, shy husband.

Deep down, I knew he wouldn't be thrilled about the blog. For one thing, he's old-fashioned - he can't even watch reality TV without wondering why anyone would agree to share TMI with the world. But I told myself what he didn't know couldn't hurt him and eagerly posted my first entry about an a.m. shower encounter.
We can already tell this is going to be great article! The author may have seen herself as a new generation Carrie Bradshaw, but on Sex and the City, Carrie wasn't anonymous. She put herself out there and anyone who was in her life knew it. If they weren't okay with dating a sex columnist, they didn't have to date her.

But what Wira did was betray her husband's trust and invade his privacy. She lied to him and kept secrets from him and she didn't respect his wishes or feelings.
Maybe it was because of my honesty, but the blog was becoming more popular...and my boss wanted me to get even wilder. So the cute guy I spoke to briefly at a bachelorette party became a full-on flirtation, complete with dirty dancing. My normal weekend turned into a sex marathon where we'd gotten out of bed only for the food-delivery guy. And even as the entries became more explicit, I didn't feel the tiniest bit guilty. I enjoyed creating a more exciting life than the one I was living, and I kind of forgot that strangers were reading about my sex life...until David happened to find the blog when he was browsing the site and recognized details from our marriage. Furious, he called me at my office.
"I can't believe you've been writing all this for the whole world to see!" he shouted. I tried to defend myself by telling him I was just doing my job and had enhanced details only for the sake of a story, but I caved quickly. What could I say? I'd been verbally cheating on him with more than one million devoted readers.
This part is so contradictory... did everyone else catch the ass-backwardsness of it? She believed the blog was becoming more popular because of her "honesty" so she decided to increase its popularity by... being less honest... by exaggerating and lying. So now she was not only lying to her husband about it, but she was lying to her readers as well. And doing both completely guilt-free. She forgot that strangers were reading about her sex life, because they weren't reading about her sex life... they were reading near-fiction.

But somehow she managed to keep in enough actual, factual details that she was still recognizable to her husband. That is where the problem was - when you're anonymous you're supposed to use your anonymity to protect your identity but she apparently was being too honest about identifiable details. However, she wasn't being honest about the actual content of the blog - you know, the sex - so what exactly was the point? I could easily write an anonymous fictional sex blog if I wanted to... but if I was going to do that, I'd A) make it fictional enough that people didn't know it was me and B) admit that it was fiction.
I told my boss I had to give up the blog that day, and she thankfully agreed to remove all my previous posts. After a ton of apologies, where I admitted that I'd betrayed his trust, David forgave me. And while nothing positive came from the experience (I never got a book deal!), I learned that if I want to keep the peace in my marriage, I can't keep secrets from my husband. More importantly, I don't dish about anything I wouldn't be comfortable having David reading or hearing...including this.
This part also sounds like fiction to me... her boss agreed to not only let her quit the blog but remove all the previous posts? If the blog was actually as popular as she claimed it was ("one million devoted readers"?) there's no way an employer would give it up so easily. And I'm not a copyright lawyer or anything, but any published writer knows that there are always some kind of contracts or releases signed that would protect both parties... Most likely the employer would've had the right to use that blog content long after the author decided to give it up.

I'm glad that the author finally admitted that she was wrong to lie to her husband and betray his trust, but the tone of the article still feels a little off. It seems as though the real lesson the author learned was that she was wrong to write a sex blog instead of that she was wrong to lie about writing a sex blog (and lie in the sex blog).

There's nothing inherently wrong with writing a sex blog - anonymously or not; the author was - and still is - entitled to do so if she wanted. What was wrong was the dishonesty and the fact that she did not protect the privacy of herself and her husband. If you're going to make the decision to be anonymous, you have to actually maintain that anonyminity. Protect yourself! Don't reveal information that will give away your identity. If she had done that (and had been honest with her husband in the first place) then maybe he wouldn't have had as big an issue with the blog at all.

If the post was so easily recognizable to her husband (even though it was partly fiction!) it is possible that it was recognizable to others as well. That is the problem. I mean, he said it himself "you've been writing all this for the whole world to see"... but if the whole world doesn't know it's you, then it's not that big of a deal. If she had gone to him and explained this beforehand and they had - together - come up with a few agreements of what information was or was not okay to share, maybe he would have understood.

But no, lying and then fucking over your boss... much better plan!


Diva said...

I think the entire Cosmo article was total bullshit. There is no way her husband just happened to stumble across it and then recognize himself in it. Any anonymous blogger knows not to put any actual details that would give them away.

The part about the boss just agreeing to delete the blog sounds like BS to me too. I assume the boss paid her to write the content of that blog and therefore owned it. Why would any employer just say 'sure, no problem' to a request like that. Also did they forget about Wayback Machine and Google cache? You can't just press a delete button on a blog.

I think you should write that former sex blogger or better yet the Cosmo article writer and invite her to next years MOMENTUM Conference. I'll even comp her registration fee.

Anonymous said...

Yeah it sure seems like Cosmo wrote a fake story about a fake sex blog. A fake, kind of boring, moralizing story. Awesome. Although I think a woman writing for one of those trash magazines would have absolutely no concept of caching, privacy protection on the internet, etc. There is no way someone would actually think it's OK to write a blog about their intimate, 1-on-1 sex life without their partner's permission. Would the magazine even allow it without the husband's written permission, for fear of being sued?

Summer Vega said...

I would have to agree with Diva and call the whole article a piece of fiction, maybe that's why my mother never let me read it...too much fiction disguised as fact.

Jennifer said...