Promiscuities Hardcover – Jun 2 1997
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Part memoir, part exposé, Promiscuities is Naomi Wolf's (author of The Beauty Myth and Fire with Fire) perspective on the confusion surrounding female sexuality. According to Wolf, promiscuous is "a word that holds within it the mixed message girls today are given about sex: 'You're promiscuous if you do anything, but you are a prude if you do nothing.'" Thus, still polarized on the spectrum between virgin and whore, adolescent girls are allowed little information and even fewer healthy outlets for their normal sexual desires. Wolf shatters the illusion that good girls and professional women are not sexual, and boldly embarks on redefining female sexuality outside of men's experience and assumptions. Wolf's own coming of age in the post-sexual revolution of Haight-Ashbury, serves as an evocative tool for revealing the naked and admirable truth of female sexuality. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Wolf has written passionately about the effects of popular culture on female self-image in numerous articles and books (The Beauty Myth, LJ 4/1/91). Her newest work centers on the way American culture of the late Sixties and Seventies created a generation of females torn between the need to express their sensuality and the desire to meet society's behavioral expectations. To illustrate her position, Wolf relies almost exclusively on the coming-of-age experiences of herself, her friends, and acquaintances in her hometown, San Francisco. Overgeneralization abounds as she attempts to apply the microcosmic events of this mostly white, middle-class, liberal milieu to a whole generation. A new stereotype is presented in which all girls wanted to be Barbie and all teenagers viewed loss of virginity as the key to attaining "womanhood." There is a desperate defensiveness in the tone of this book, which, in spite of references to other sociological and anthropological studies, diminishes the force of Wolf's argument. Fans of the author as well as expected talk-show appearances will nevertheless generate demand for this work. Libraries should purchase accordingly.
-?Rose M. Cichy, Osterhout Free Lib., Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
One problem: the tagline used for the paperback edition ("The Secret Struggle for Womanhood") might lead the reader to expect a book with answers rather than questions, more like Ms. Wolf's previous books. The tagline of the hardcover edition ("An Ordinary American Girlhood") is better, though it perhaps misleads the reader about the universality of her experiences.
Wolf also writes of the terrible experience of being sexually harassed by a respected college professor, marriage, kids, and a host of other issues that women face today. Since the book is from the 1990s it doesn't address many of the issues girls face today with social media. It would be interesting to see her write a sequel to this book, detailing the lives of women from their thirties to their now-fifties.
Wolf's purported discussion of the sexual maturation in young women deals with little more than her own experience and that of her circle of friends. Which is also a shame, because a seriously written book on this topic would also be interesting.
But Wolf treds a painfully dull and over-hyped path with this book, which manages to hide her considerable intellect almost completely under trite melancholy reminisces. Utterly failing to provide any insight into adolescence's turbulence, Wolf laments her psuedo-tragic past and suggests ill-thought-out "solutions" for preventing such pain.
This autobiography is not really an autobiography at all, as it only covers a few years of her life, and doesn't delve into her psyche or experience at all, except with regard to her (huge) virgin/whore complex. It might be a very compelling book about her adult life as she struggles with her feminist beliefs and the backlash to "The Beauty Myth," but it's not. So if you are interested in Wolf as a thinker, you're out of luck.
But if you're interested in the complex social navigations of young women in our society and how those interactions have affected our culture's view of women, you're out of luck too. Any discussion about this issue is about as deep as a puddle.
The real shame of this is how much I like Naomi Wolf, and how much "The Beauty Myth" meant to me. And if one looks hard enough in this text, you may take something out of it. However, something went horribly wrong with this sophomoric, pseudo-intellectual book from a very smart author.
The book's flaw is the author's naivete about desire, carnality, and the dark side of human nature. She doesn't seem to appreciate the extent to which her she is a product of her place and time. San Francisco and California have always been exceptions and trend setters. A whole generation grew up there believing that sexual restraint and boundaries were merely manifestations of outdated "hang-ups". She fails to see that her life story gives the lie to her parents' academic idealism, and to the ideology underlying the sex education her grandmother advocated in the 50s. The author also does not seem to appreciate the extent to which her thinking and her emotions are products of her secular Jewish upbringing.
Wolf's generation has imperfectly relearned via bitter experience the wisdom of the ages, namely that human sexual urges are potentially destructive of health, happiness and sanity. That women and children need the protection of marriage and the criminal law. That adolescents should be shielded from deliberate sexual arousal. (She does see that erotica and sex toys should be marketed in ways that limit the ability of under 18s to encounter such stuff.) That girls must be protected from peer pressures to become sexual.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
If Wolf had wanted to write about her fast, furious and unique upbringing in San Francisco, she should have just called it an autobiography. Read morePublished on Oct. 26 2001
Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle for Womanhood by Naomi Wolf. Not recommended.
Female coming of age. Female desire and sexuality. Feminism. Read more
Although I give it only 2 stars as literature, I really enjoyed reading this book, not because it was great or revelatory or profound, but because it was fascinating. Read morePublished on April 18 2001 by M. Dukas
Naomi Wolf, called "naive" and "sloppy" by middle aged reviewers, speaks to a younger audience in a voice that is frank and concise. Read morePublished on Jan. 27 2000
Wolf's book is a memoir, plain and simple. She can dress it up with social commentary (complete with the use of tired jargon like social "scripts") and she can fill... Read morePublished on July 30 1999
this is by far the most amazing book that i have ever read. everything wolf wrote about was so true for me, and for other women that i know. Read morePublished on Feb. 17 1999