Caitlin Constantine's Reviews > Promiscuities

Promiscuities by Naomi Wolf
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Jul 10, 10

Read from June 19 to July 10, 2010

I probably would have liked this more if I had read it shortly after it came out. It was published in 1997, which was when I was in still in high school, and the most advanced feminist theory I'd been exposed to at that time was the other half of the third-wave feminist bookend, Susan Faludi.

As a result, the ideas presented - that the way we regard teenage female sexuality is a big old inconsistent mess - seemed rather obvious to me. Like I said, I'm sure I would have had light bulb moments all over the place if I had read this earlier, but I hadn't, and so I didn't.

However, one thing I loved - and this is why I am giving it three stars rather than two - were Wolf's memoirish writings about growing up as a teenager in San Francisco during the height of the sexual revolution. Wolf is a really good, evocative writer, and so her stories about growing up, dating, exploring her sexuality with her girl friends and with boys, they were all very captivating for me.

Unfortunately that only comprised between one-third and one-half of the book. The rest was left to quasi-anthropological looks at female sexuality in other cultures and a deconstruction of the history of the clitoris and the female orgasm in Western psychology. (Although I did like that she called out Shere Hite for the bombastic claim that, before the second-wave, female sexuality had never before been so clearly understood.)

I'd recommend this for someone who was just dipping their toes into feminist theory for the first time. Not so much for "advanced blamers," to borrow the phrase of a well-known radfem blogger.

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