Her Way:
Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

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

About the Author
Paula Kamen’s writings on feminism and young women have appeared in many national publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Ms., and the Chicago Tribune. She is also the author of Feminist Fatale: Voices from the “Twentysomething” Generation Explore the Future of the Women’s Movement. A visiting research scholar in Northwestern University’s women’s studies program, Kamen lives in Chicago.

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Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution by Paula Kamen (Broadway Books, 2002. ISBN: 0767910001. 304 pages, softcover, $13.95)

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