Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

Posted By: maxxum

Paula Kamen, «Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution»
New York University Press | ISBN 0814747337 | 2000-12 | PDF | 2.4 Mb | 280 pages


Thanks to BigGatsby ….

Here's another related book:
Why Is Sex Fun?: The Evolution of Human Sexuality (Science Masters Series)


Watching Barbara Walters's interview with Monica Lewinsky was like being caught in a tractor beam of horrified prurience. It boggled the mind that the leader of the free world would risk so much for… well, you know. The interview was many things, including funny, and that was mainly due to the enormous chasm between interviewer and interviewee regarding the heart of the matter: sex. When Walters asked, "And there were things that were done that made you as a woman happy and content?" it took women under 40 a few moments before they realized to what Walters was so coyly referring. The women of Generation (Se)X don't talk to each other like that. Even in public. They are a lot more explicit.

In Her Way, journalist Paula Kamen traces what she calls a sexual evolution, a slow but profound change in how women relate to their sexualities. Thirtysomething Kamen uses surveys (some more scientific than others), scholarly and popular literature, pop entertainment, and her own open-ended interviews with a wide variety of women to paint a picture of younger women who are more confident about their sexual selves (be they virginal or promiscuous) and in negotiating what they want in bed and their love relationships.

In keeping with the book's sex-positive message, the emphasis is on women's agency and on further possibilities for broadly satisfying sexual and interpersonal relationships. There is little about, for example, sexual violence, including date rape. Kamen has distilled a wealth of research in an engaging and accessible form, and she does not shy away from a more subtle commentary that notes the persistence of a sexual double standard for men and women. She also points out that we are still operating on "basic male definitions of sex or sexual freedoms" and asks whether, perhaps, in the words of the bumper sticker, "Women who strive to be equal to men aren't ambitious enough." –J. Riches

From Publishers Weekly
With intelligence and flair, Gen-X feminist, journalist and playwright Kamen (Feminist Fatale) presents an exhaustive study of the sexual mores of the women in her generation. Based on 100 interviews and a wealth of statistics, Kamen persuasively argues that ever since the sexual revolution provided widespread access to birth control and information on topics ranging from masturbation to homosexuality, young women have been undergoing a slow, steady "sexual evolution." Today, she declares, college-age women's attitudes and behaviors closely resemble those of their male counterparts: on average they have almost as many partners as men and are less opposed to casual sex than previous generations. In Kamen's view, this trend indicates that Gen X women have achieved a high sexual comfort level. Consequently, while young women may have more sexual partners than they once did, virgins are also stepping proudly out of the closet, along with unmarried mothers, women who choose to remain single, lesbians and bisexuals. Their confidence has encouraged a new activism, as women insist on speaking out about once-taboo experiences, such as sexual harassment, molestation and rape. Kamen even goes so far as to suggest that President Clinton would have been in a better position if he had understood Monica's generational perspective on sex. (Jan.) Forecast: Critical yet nonjudgmental, Kamen's lively book is a welcome primer on contemporary sexual ethics. Bolstered by an author tour that will push her visibility beyond academic circles, it's sure to be a hit among feminists of all ages even while it raises eyebrows in other camps.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist
Kamen, a journalist, describes as evolutionary the changes in young women's attitudes toward sex, building on the revolutionary changes in attitudes of the baby boom generation. Women's autonomy and choice are at the center of new attitudes that have resulted in earlier sexual involvement with more partners and less guilt and shame than women of previous generations had. Kamen interviewed more than 100 Generation X women, researchers, and activists for this insightful examination of how women's sexual attitudes have changed and how those changes are reflected in current U.S. culture. She cites examples as diverse as the sexual aggressiveness of Monica Lewinski and contemporary female rap and pop singers to young women fighting against date rape and sexual harassment, as evidence of women's resistance to society's expectations. Kamen offers candid interviews and compelling insights on the impact of social developments such as the feminist movement, the backlash against it, and the threat of AIDS on young women's attitudes about sex. This is a provocative look at changing female sexuality 24 years after The Hite Report.

Book Description

"Lively and entertaining, honoring the intimate voices of a diversity of women, Her Way is an authoritative study of our long slow journey toward sexual autonomy. Kamen is a savvy third wave feminist who has done her homework. The book is a link between generations, and a major stepping stone toward fuller liberation. This is feminism for the 21st century!"
–Barbara Seaman, Co-editor of For Women Only: Our Guide to Health Empowerment

Three decades after the Sexual Revolution, women's power and status have begun to match men's, and women are finally making the rules in order to experience a more radical and truer form of liberation.

Her Way demonstrates how and why 20- and 30-something women have evolved to act and think more like men sexually, while also creating their own distinct sexual patterns and appetites. Today's young women are now the leaders of an unreported but sweeping "Sexual Evolution," in which women take control of sex and redefine it from their perspective. In other words, do it "her way."

Paula Kamen characterizes this Sexual Evolution according to two major developments that are setting sexual patterns for future generations of women: young women's sexual profiles are now remarkably similar to those of men, in terms of age of first intercourse, and numbers of sex partners and casual encounters. They also feel less guilt or shame about their behavior, from premarital sex to having a child out of marriage to coming out of the closet to cohabiting.

Yet young women are not merely imitating men, but forging their own distinct sexual perspectives and asserting their own needs. In addition to discovering the pleasures of sex, young women are also exploring the dilemmas, challenging male-defined sexual scripts, and changing what actually goes on in bed.

Based on more than one hundred lively, unfiltered and in-depth interviews with women across the country, Her Way cuts through the sensationalism and speculation of popular discussions about young women and sex. Kamen reports the real story of today's enhanced sexual expectations and choices.

About the Author
Paula Kamen is the author of Feminist Fatale: Voices from the Twentysomething Generation Explore the Future of the Women's Movement. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Ms., the Chicago Tribune, EXTRA!, the Dallas Morning News, and Newsday. She is a visiting research scholar at Northwestern University's Women's Studies Program.