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Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom Hardcover – March 8, 2013
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"Women should be assertive but not aggressive, feminine but not passive, honest but not overwhelming. But how? Especially for women between ages 17 (the average age for first sex) and 27 (the average age of marriage) the rules for how to be a woman are highly unclear. In this deeply wise, very lucid, and highly illuminating book Bell, a sociologist and psychotherapist, describes how women sometimes split” their desires for connection, sex and professional success. And she points to ways of moving beyond the split. An important book for women and men."Arlie Hochschild, Author of The Outsourced Self: Intimate Life in Market Times
Leslie Bell introduces us to a new developmental period for 20 something women in which they are focused on sexual and relationship satisfaction. By sharing these women's stories Bell helps us to explore complex issues of ambivalence, subjectivity, and identity that are at the core of personal, relational and sexual fulfillment.”C.J. Pascoe, author of Dude, You’re a Fag: Masculinity and Sexuality in High School
While popular portrayals of women and sex are glossy, voyeuristic, simplified, unemotional, or trite, Hard to Get offers rarely heard detailed stories that are told with emotional resonance and connection to women’s full lives and selves. Bell has made a superb contribution to our understanding about how women navigate sexuality in young adulthood in an era when they no longer must be married, and thus she has enlightened our understanding of women’s social, sexual, and psychological lives.”Karin A. Martin, author of Puberty, Sexuality, and the Self: Boys and Girls at Adolescence
"Hard to Get shows us why, in the 21st Century, sex is easy but relationships are not. Every 20something woman who is having sex, but feels that something is amiss, should read this book."Meg Jay, Ph.D., author of The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them Now
"Can today’s young women be independent and sexually agentic while also satisfying their relational needs for intimacy? Bell believes that they can, and insightfully uses women’s stories to reveal the inner and outer barriers to having it all."Paula England, New York University
Bell offers a profoundly original and important argument about why despite gains in education and employment -- young women in America continue to be short-changed in sex and intimacy. And she gives us a new, compelling vision of what it would mean for them to attain true sexual liberation.”Amy Schalet, author of Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens, and the Culture of Sex
Female sexuality provides endless fascination; but how do actual young women find happiness in sex and love? Leslie Bell gives us an up-close look at twenty-something women at a cultural moment when they have more freedom than ever before, but their desires sexual and relational continue to confound. Bell navigates this complex terrain with compassion, keen insight, and an eye to social change.”Daphne de Marneffe, PhD, author of Maternal Desire: On Children, Love, and the Inner Life
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Top Customer Reviews
Also good to know - the author is a psychoanalyst who uses that vocabulary and has developed the book in a relatively academic style. It was still very approachable, and I personally benefited from the combination of theory and research that develops the book.
Getting to know the young women whose experiences are recounted in Hard to Get makes it clear that there is no simple prescription for attaining healthy and rewarding intimate relationships. Nevertheless, the book suggests real ways that I can help the parents and other caregivers of our grandson and, especially, our granddaughters to prepare those wonderful children tor the complexities and contradictions that are a necessary part of growing into mature adulthood.
Unlike other books on similar topics, Bell is neither preachy, condescending or dry, which remains a strong point for her book. I particularly found Bell's writing style fantastic - you do not have to be a scholar to read this book and derive enjoyment. Her writing is clear, insightful, and deeply appreciative of the complexities of her subject and the women she interviewed.
I greatly enjoyed book and have heartily recommended it to others.
What I would love to see next is a similar work on how - for heterosexual relationships - this shift in messaging and self-perception in women is affecting their male counterparts.