Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

3. Changing Sexual Scripts: A Close-Up

You showed the president your thong underwear. Where did you get the
nerve? I mean—who does that?

—Barbara Walters to Monica Lewinsky, television interview, March 3, 1999

Because they now think more like men and share more of their power, women are also more likely to act like men in bed, that is, to take control and actively seek pleasure. Although this movement has been slow and has only just begun, women are more willing to take responsibility for sex, initiate it, and take an active part in directing and choosing specific sexual activities, such as a wider variety of acts, including oral and anal sex and experiments with other women. Another change is that men are now more likely to accept women's aggressiveness in bed, realizing that women usually need more than just intercourse to have an orgasm and thus are more willing to help satisfy them.

Many of the old inhibitions remain, however. Women are only beginning to define their sexuality and desire, to learn and acknowledge their distinct sexual response, as evidenced by the relatively low numbers having regular orgasms and getting the “basic training” of masturbation. In addition, unlike men, women are apt to act more assertively only under certain “safe” conditions, such as when “love” is attached to sex. Whereas men feel entitled to seek pleasure regardless of the situation—whether or not it's a one-night stand—women are more inclined to “let themselves go” in a monogamous relationship. Likewise, women are more likely to challenge traditional patterns (such as making the first move, making more demands in bed) in steady dating relationships or in marriage, as opposed to casual encounters. Part of this reserve may be the result of the still strong double standard.

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