EP 153: Writing, Shame & Sex with Melissa Febos, author of “Girlhood” & “Body Work”


In this episode, Kimberly and Melissa discuss Melissa’s several books, including “Girlhood” and “Body Work”. They discuss writing personal experiences and its impact on close relationships, as well as mother/daughter dynamics, writing as a medium for processing shame and trauma, and cultural responses to women’s stories of coming of age, consent, trauma, sex work, and more.



Melissa Febos is an author and an assistant professor at the University of Iowa, Nonfiction writing program. She is author of four books, including the nationally bestselling essay collection, “GIRLHOOD,” which is a LAMBDA Literary Award finalist and won the National Book Critics Circle Award in criticism. “GIRLHOOD” was named a notable book of 2021 by NPR, Time, The Washington Post, and others. Her craft book, “BODY WORK” (2022), was also a national bestseller and an Indie Next Pick.


What She Shares:

–Experiences writing books about self, sex, and traumas

–Family responses to writing

–Cultural responses to stories of sex, shame, etc.

–Writing as part of the reparative process

–Newest book Body Work


What You’ll Hear:

–Power of story-telling

–Openness of media and culture for books like Girlhood

–Bringing topics of sex and affirmative consent on national television

–Experiences of stalker and associated traumas

–Doing the difficult work for self and relationships

–Experience of cuddle parties and consent

–Awareness and consent as a life’s work

–Process of writing and remembering

–Love and tenderness for past selves

–Mother’s experience of reading books about harm and adolescence

–Complexities of trauma for girls, women, and mothers

–Difficulties of traumatic experiences for mothers and daughters

–Mothers’ experiences knowing details of daughters’ trauma

–Process of writing narrative fueling healing with privacy before publishing

–Taking the time necessary for writing

–Victim-blaming regarding sexual assault

–Quick to suppress personal desires in relation to others’

–Conflicts in female friendships, building resiliency, and love

–Social conditioning for girls to please others over selves

–Bodies, aspirations, and talents as an “affront to femininity”

–Experience becoming a sex worker

–Internal conflicts due to second-wave feminism

–Feeling safe exploring parts of sexual self through dominatrix work

–Backlash from the community after publishing experience in sex work

–New book Body Work



Website: https://www.melissafebos.com/

IG: @melissafebos

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