All tied up with Madison Young

In Other Words Feminist Community Center will host author Madison Young on Thursday, Nov. 13 to celebrate the publication of her new book, Daddy: A Memoir. Young, a feminist adult film actress, sex-positive educator and writer, will present her story and sign copies from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Daddy chronicles Young’s relationships with the various men in her life: her biological father, the BDSM “daddies” who introduced her to the kink she’s now famous for, and her real-life partner and dominant James Mogul. It also delves into new motherhood, and the contradictory balance of being a queer feminist artist and a submissive.

With little prior knowledge of Young’s work, it’s impressive to note her extensive resume and the variety of her endeavors. Besides her film and bondage modeling credits, in 2001 she founded Femina Potens, a nonprofit art gallery and performance space in San Francisco that serves the LGBTQ and kink communities. Young began work on the gallery after recognizing a need for greater visibility of women and transgender artists.

Young opens her story asking the reader to consent to the journey they are about to take with her. Turning the page is your silent consent to go at your own pace, and she acknowledges that reading this slice of her life involves an exchange of energies.

Later, she recalls her therapist’s encouraging words: “Name the feeling. Allow it to exist. Breathe, and give yourself permission to let go of that feeling.” The idea of consent in its various forms is the backbone of Daddy.

Throughout the next 300-some pages, Young aptly weaves tales of bondage, the difficult impact her parents’ divorce had on her childhood, and the sleeplessness of life with a teething toddler, among many other subjects. The seemingly dissimilar topics blend together seamlessly, and Young’s perseverance and inexhaustible positivity make it a page-turner.

Frequently explicit, she does not shy away from baring it all. She offers this advice to a college student aspiring to follow in her footsteps: “Reveal all, fear nothing.” This motto carries through Daddy as Young makes it clear she’s putting her heart on the line.

She does not spare gritty details about the toll her work in the adult film industry has taken on her body, or gloss over the difficulties of maintaining a relationship with a less-than-reliable partner. Her writing takes dark, tumultuous turns and reveals a wounded but hopeful woman.

Perhaps more than anything, Daddy is further proof that Young is an artist. It’s one thing to have the courage to expose all for a camera, and another to be willing to reflect the realities of life in an unflattering light. Her luscious, evocative language and no-holds-barred mentality in writing and in life have resulted in a wrenching and powerful look at a woman at the head of a sexual revolution.

Near the end of her doting foreword, sex expert Annie Sprinkle asks the reader the question, “Can [Young] maintain her feminist identity and woman of power status while bottoming to a man?” The answer lies in her consent.

Young is aware that some may have difficulty reconciling her image as a queer feminist with that of her being a submissive in a relationship with a man. Confiding in her therapist near the end of the text, Young said, “I’m really nervous about finishing this book; my memoir…People are going to hate me. Feminists won’t understand why I stayed, why I believed in Daddy.”

The truth is that Daddy is feminist at its core. It recounts the life and times of a strong, passionate woman determined to follow her own path on her own terms. When she feels overwhelmed, Young repeats to herself, “Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with others. Be gentle with the world around you.” It’s a ­mantra anyone would do well to live by.