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Promiscuities: The Secret Struggle For Womanhood Paperback – Jun 30 1998

3.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada (June 30 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067930942X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679309420
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.8 x 20.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 159 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #376,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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 the 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 the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Naomi Wolf strikes home here with a book that will resonate with a lot of people, especially those born between 1960 and 1970 and raised on one of the coasts. Unlike her past works, Promiscuities is a very personal story; she has a lot to say about her own experiences and those of the girls and women she grew up with. The earlier parts of the book are stronger than the finish, but it's worth getting to the end anyway.
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.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed "Promiscuities" so much that I found myself continually marking up pages and asterisking sections as they described situations I had lived through but could not articulate. I found this book to be incredibly insightful. Finally a book that discusses how it feels to be a young woman, struggling with her burgeoning sexuality, in a world that denies and degrades female sexual power. While Wolfe's perspective on this issue is largely white, middle class, and could have included more ethnic attitudes of female sexuality, this book is a starting point on a discussion that needs to continue. I found this book to be fascinating and will return to it.
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Format: Paperback
It is an excellent conversation piece to share with your husband/boyfriend, friends, daughter and mother. It touches on so many issues that are too "weird" to say outloud. It really makes you think about your sexuality and your desires and your relationships with both women and men in a way that validates them for the first time ever. It is thought- provoking and informative. You will read it, love it, and pass it on.
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Format: Hardcover
If you're a young woman who came of age in the 1970s you will probably like this book. Maybe I should specify if you were a young *white* woman as Wolf states that she didn't make an effort to include women of colour which is fine...plenty has been written about their experiences as well. Wolf grew up in the Bay area and writes with great poignancy sometimes about the events and feelings she went through. Some of her experiences were a little different from mine - I wasn't as curious to experience sex as she apparently was, nor did I experiment with drugs as a teen. But I still related to a lot of it, and that which I didn't - spending summers on a kibbutz in Israel, for example - were still good reading. (And I find myself wondering whatever happened to the gal at the kibbutz who got pregnant by her mother's boyfriend and went away to either have the baby or an abortion - we don't know what choice she made, if any).

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.
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Format: Paperback
This book was a memoir, and, if I may say so, a very superficially written one. Which is a shame, because a real memoir of Wolf's life would probably be quite interesting.
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.
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Format: Paperback
Intelligent adult women need to write more about their coming of age. Wolf has done just that, and writes well. (The best book of this genre is Annie Dillard's "An American Childhood".) This book is also a telling document about what it meant to grow up in the 60s and 70s, a period when the prevailing sexual hedonism came into flower. However, I doubt that La Wolf's memoir tells all; I suspect that a lot was (rightly) left out of this book, out of respect for the author's parents, siblings, spouse, and child.
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.
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