Nancy Colbert Friday (Pittsburgh, August 27, 1933) is an American author who has written on the topics of female sexuality and liberation.
“Nancy Friday’s successful fantasy revelations (My Secret Garden, Forbidden Flowers) have seen her placed among the feminist erotic pioneers.” Her writings argue that women have often been reared under an ideal of womanhood, which was outdated and restrictive, and largely unrepresentative of many women’s true inner lives, and that openness about women’s hidden lives could help free women to truly feel able to enjoy being themselves. She asserts that this is not due to deliberate malice, but due to social expectation, and that for women’s and men’s benefit alike it is healthier that both be able to be equally open, participatory and free to be accepted for who and what they are.
Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Friday grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and attended the only local girls’ college-preparatory school, Ashley Hall, where she graduated in 1951. She then attended Wellesley College in Massachusetts, where she graduated in 1955. She worked briefly as a reporter for the San Juan Island Times and subsequently established herself as a magazine journalist in New York, England, and France before turning to writing full-time and publishing her first book, My Secret Garden, in 1973. This book, which compiled interviews of women discussing their sexuality and fantasies, became a bestseller; Friday has regularly returned to the interview format in her subsequent books on themes ranging from mothers and daughters to sexual fantasies, relationships, jealousy, envy, feminism, BDSM, and beauty. She had not written a book since the publication of The Power of Beauty (released in 1996, and then renamed and rereleased in paperback form in 1999)—despite contributing an interview of porn star Nina Hartley to XXX: 30 Porn Star Portraits a book by photographer Timothy Greenfield-Sanders published in 2004—until Beyond My Control: Forbidden Fantasies in an Uncensored Age (2009).
Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s she was a frequent guest on television and radio programs such as Politically Incorrect, Oprah, Larry King Live, Good Morning America, and NPR’s Talk of the Nation, Friday also has a web site, created in the mid-1990s, to complement the publication of The Power of Beauty. Initially conceived as a forum for development of new work and interaction with her diverse audience, it has not been updated in several years. As of 2005, Friday is currently working on her first novel.
Despite the judgment of Ms. magazine (“This woman is not a feminist”), she has predicated her career on the belief that feminism and appreciation of men are not mutually exclusive concepts.