Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom [NOOK Book]

Overview

Hard to Get is a powerful and intimate examination of the sex and love lives of the most liberated women in history—twenty-something American women who have had more opportunities, more positive role models, and more information than any previous generation. Drawing from her years of experience as a researcher and a psychotherapist, Leslie C. Bell takes us directly into the lives of young women who struggle to negotiate the complexities of sexual desire and pleasure, and to make sense of their historically unique...
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Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom

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Overview

Hard to Get is a powerful and intimate examination of the sex and love lives of the most liberated women in history—twenty-something American women who have had more opportunities, more positive role models, and more information than any previous generation. Drawing from her years of experience as a researcher and a psychotherapist, Leslie C. Bell takes us directly into the lives of young women who struggle to negotiate the complexities of sexual desire and pleasure, and to make sense of their historically unique but contradictory constellation of opportunities and challenges. In candid interviews, Bell’s subjects reveal that, despite having more choices than ever, they face great uncertainty about desire, sexuality, and relationships. Ground-breaking and highly readable, Hard to Get offers fascinating insights into the many ways that sex, love, and satisfying relationships prove surprisingly elusive to these young women as they navigate the new emotional landscape of the 21st century.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In this academic study straining for a popular audience, sociologist and psychotherapist Bell explores the conundrum of 20-something women burdened by the mixed blessing of sexual freedom. She proceeds from the flawed historical assumption “that in recent years... it has become unclear what it means to be a woman, especially a liberated woman,” when 20th-century American women’s history is rife with periods in which this has been muddled and/or contentious. Bell’s narrow pool of 20 highly educated Northern Californian subjects (she admits they’re a socioeconomically unordinary bunch), today well out of their 20s, functioned well in the public aspects of their lives but felt continuing doubts and anxieties about sex and love. Bell relies on the psychoanalytic theory of splitting to explore how the women compartmentalized options in their lives and to illustrate her argument that they formulated “strategies of desire” as coping mechanisms. These she divides into archetypes, with the “Sexual Woman” and the “Relational Woman” representing defensive strategies, and the “Desiring Woman” finding an acceptable balance of sexual feelings with other relationship intimacies. Bell’s conclusion, that both people and the culture at large need to change so women no longer feel compelled to split, is a rehash of feminist territory mapped out decades ago. 1 table. (Mar.)
From The Critics
"Finally! A nuanced look at hookup culture. This hookup book is not like the others."—Salon

"Bell's clear prose and accessible subject matter will appeal to both scholars of women's studies and young women looking for an explanation of some of the predicaments their generation faces."—Kirkus Reviews

"Emphasises that the problem is not conflict and hurt, which are inevitable parts of living, but rather that the way these young women interpret and learn from their experiences is crucial."—Times Higher Education

"[Bell] hoped to find that young women would have dynamic, confident sex lives . . . but found a much more complex, difficult, dare we say Lena Dunham-esque situation instead."—San Francisco Magazine

"Bell hopes to dislodge embedded stereotypes of men as subject and women as object and defuse the fear that our sexuality is dangerous. Her book just might help that happen."—Bust

Kirkus Reviews
Bell's clear prose and accessible subject matter will appeal to both scholars of women's studies and young women looking for an explanation of some of the predicaments their generation faces...offers some sage advice for young women navigating this brave new world.
Kirkus Reviews
Sociologist and psychotherapist Bell investigates the generation of women in their 20s who, despite unprecedented opportunities, are struggling to find balance in their emotional and sexual lives. Born after 1972, the year the author identifies as a cultural turning point for women, this younger generation may have more choices than their foremothers, but she claims, they are also confused and overwhelmed by them. Bell is particularly interested in looking at the sexual attitudes and behaviors of these newly liberated young women. Using both sociological and psychological methodology, she presents several interviews as case studies. The author discovered that these women generally fell into three categories: the Sexual Woman, who is comfortable with herself sexually but has difficulty trusting the security of relationships; the Relational Woman, who seeks out relationships at the expense of her own fulfillment; and the Desiring Woman, who has found a way to successfully integrate competing societal and personal expectations to become more confident and secure. Bell also discovered that these young women are often "splitting" to form two distinct selves rather than incorporating the differences to become a whole person. The author concludes that positive role models who can exhibit fulfillment in their sexual, professional and familial lives are necessary to help these young women become comfortable with their own identities. While this is an academic study, Bell's clear prose and accessible subject matter will appeal to both scholars of women's studies and young women looking for an explanation of some of the predicaments their generation faces. Though it's far from being a self-help book, the author does offer some sage advice for young women navigating this brave new world. Insightful case studies that explore how young women are negotiating the pressures of sexual and professional liberation.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520954489
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/8/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 274
  • Sales rank: 584,662
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Leslie C. Bell is a sociologist and psychotherapist who specializes in women's development and sexuality. She maintains a private practice in Berkeley, California.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

1. The Paradox of Sexual Freedom

Part I. The Sexual Woman
2. The New Taboo: Katie
3. The Bad Girl: Jayanthi
4. A Pill to Kill Desire: Claudia
Part II. The Relational Woman
5. The Good Girl: Alicia
6. On Not Having It All: Phoebe
Part III. The Desiring Woman
7. How Does She Do It? Maria and Susan
8. Maybe She’s Born with It: Sophia and Jeanette
9. Conclusion: What’s a Modern Woman to Do?

Appendix I. Splitting
Appendix II. Clinical Interviewing
Appendix III. Demographic Information about Respondents

Notes
References
Index
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