The Modern Importance of “Fear of Flying”

Erica Jong’s work Fear of Flying was revolutionary when it was published in 1973, as it touched on many taboo topics of the time, including sex outside of marriage and female sexual fantasies. While these ideas seemed radical at the time, society has slowly shifted from hyper-conservatism to a more progressive liberalism, especially when it comes to topics such as sexuality. Fear of Flying was one of the first popular texts by and for women; the struggle of sexuality was distinctly female and it was a “rare example” of a “woman, not a man, [struggling] to define what she wants her life to look like.” Though this was all true in the 1970s, the new question for today’s generation is whether Jong’s work not only has modern merit, but the ability to maintain its historical importance.

Throughout the article, women from all walks of life talk about how the novel affected them and their lives. Some women read Fear of Flying in their 20s and found it slightly less relatable because, unlike Isadora, these women were getting married closer to 30, not their early 20s. However, all of these women still agree on the power and importance of Jong’s work. In the article, one female author states that Jong’s work “encouraged [her]” and told her that she “could tell stories in [her] own voice.” While some critique Jong’s language in modern society, calling it more “cringeworthy,” the overarching meaning of Jong’s work persists through time.

Lastly, and perhaps the most crucial modern perception of Fear of Flying rests in how feminism is treated today. Naomi Wolf is an ardent feminist and author of many books including “Vagina: A New Biography” and has expressed that many women ask her, in the midst of this new age of feminism, if it’s okay to want to sleep with men or be sexually free. In this case, she points directly to Jong’s Fear of Flying. “They have an internalized notion that feminism is about saying ‘no’ to things…but Fear of Flying is a declarative ‘yes’.” Isadora Wing was an example for women then and now; she showed that women could chase their own desires, but they had a right to do so.


Schillinger, Liesl. “A Woman’s Fantasy in a Modern Reality.” The New York Times, The New York Times Company, 18 Dec. 2013, Accessed 20 November, 2018.