Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

Conclusion: Beyond Becoming Like Men, Becoming Like Ourselves

The original idea of feminism as I first encountered it, in about 1969,
was twofold: that nothing short of equality will do and that in a society
marred by injustice and cruelty, equality will never be good enough.

—Barbara Ehrenreich, inThe Worse Years of Our Lives (the 1980s), 1990

This book has described the sexual state of the union at the end of the twentieth century. But what about the next century? What are some steps we can take to really make sure that young women can conduct their sex lives “her way?” Many of the most dramatic sexual evolutions documented in this book involved women's acting and thinking more like men, such as having more partners and premarital sex without shame. The superrats, who by my definition are women who act in the same sexually aggressive manner as men do, exemplify these changes. Such shifts are significant because they create a new range of sexual choices for women. But when we consider what has yet to be done, becoming like men seems like the easy part. After all, what is traditionally male is still what is most valued in our society, and what is traditionally female is still suspected and feared as weak and inferior. This is why the sexual evolution, though making some important beginning strides, has not yet overturned the basic male definitions of sex or sexual freedom.

That is, despite women's many advances, we are still living in a man's world. This is why the 1995 dating guide The Rules was so popular: the advice about acting passive to attract a man works; it is a guide, in the end, to men's rules, which still define the courtship process. True, women are initiating dates and sex more often, but they still are most successful in the dating world when they let the male take charge and do not threaten him with any sign of aggressiveness or human weakness or need. The authors of The Rules thus advise women to act “happy and busy” and let men do the rest.

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