Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

1. Superrats: The New Breed of Sexual Individualists

She was aggressive and vulnerable, petulant and infatuated, easy and
catty, and ultimately, a young woman scorned.

Chicago Tribune story about Monica Lewinsky at the release of
the Starr Report, September 13, 1998

I've been a bad, bad girl

I've been careless with a delicate man

And it's a sad, sad world

When a girl will break a boy just because she can.

—Fiona Apple, “Criminal,” from Tidal, 1996

When Nancy Friday interviewed Generation-X women for her book Women on Top, she noted that “their voices sound like a new race of women.” That is, in describing their sexual fantasies, the young women she sampled felt much less guilt than did their boomer counterparts in her 1973 book, My Secret Garden. Friday calls them “a new race,” and I describe them as “a new breed” or, more specifically, “superrats.” Although this label may seem insulting at first, I use it with all due respect to refer to an often confounding, sexually savvy breed of young women, who have evolved to become more unstoppable and more prevalent with every generation. Imbued with a large streak of traditionally male (aggressive, self-gratifying) attitudes and behavior, these women illustrate some of the most dramatic sexual changes of the past three decades. These superrats may look different, want a variety of things, come from different backgrounds, have libidos of varying capacities and demands, and confront different obstacles, but they are united by one common trait: the expectation of and insistence on conducting their sex lives on their own terms and with a new degree of openness. When it comes to

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