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.