We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Her Way

Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

Paula Kamen

Publication Year: 2000

Visit Paula Kamen's website at http://www.paulakamen.com

Three decades after the Sexual Revolution, women's power and status have begun to match men's, and women are finally making the rules in order to experience a more radical and truer form of liberation.

Her Way demonstrates how and why 20- and 30-something women have evolved to act and think more like men sexually, while also creating their own distinct sexual patterns and appetites. Today's young women are now the leaders of an unreported but sweeping "Sexual Evolution," in which women take control of sex and redefine it from their perspective. In other words, do it "her way."

Paula Kamen characterizes this Sexual Evolution according to two major developments that are setting sexual patterns for future generations of women: young women's sexual profiles are now remarkably similar to those of men, in terms of age of first intercourse, and numbers of sex partners and casual encounters. They also feel less guilt or shame about their behavior, from premarital sex to having a child out of marriage to coming out of the closet to cohabiting.

Yet young women are not merely imitating men, but forging their own distinct sexual perspectives and asserting their own needs. In addition to discovering the pleasures of sex, young women are also exploring the dilemmas, challenging male-defined sexual scripts, and changing what actually goes on in bed.

Based on more than one hundred lively, unfiltered and in-depth interviews with women across the country, Her Way cuts through the sensationalism and speculation of popular discussions about young women and sex. Kamen reports the real story of today's enhanced sexual expectations and choices.

Published by: NYU Press

Title Page, Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (18.6 KB)


pdf iconDownload PDF (33.1 KB)
pp. v

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (38.7 KB)
pp. vii-viii

During the long and always challenging journey of researching and writing this book, I have been thankful for the many allies along the way. Making this book possible were all the women interviewed, my family, Dr. Ellen Berry, Eric Zinner, and the dedicated editorial staff at NYU Press. John K. Wilson helped in all steps of this process. Josh Kilroy provided much ...

read more

Introduction: The Sexual Evolution toward Female Control

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.5 KB)
pp. 1-18

... disastrously underestimated. A few months before their relationship became public, a puzzled Clinton admitted to her, “If I had known what kind of a person you really were, I wouldn’t have gotten involved with you” (Starr Report 1998, B6). What Clinton did not realize was that Lewinsky’s behavior was that of a new generation of women. ...

Part I. Doing It “His Way”

pdf iconDownload PDF (16.7 KB)
pp. 19-20

read more

1. Superrats: The New Breed of Sexual Individualists

pdf iconDownload PDF (91.1 KB)
pp. 21-39

Friday calls them “a new race,” and I describe them as “a new breed” or, more specifically, “superrats.” Although this label may seem insulting at first, I use it with all due respect to refer to an often confounding, sexually savvy breed of young women, who have evolved to become more unstoppable and more prevalent with every generation. Imbued with a large ...

read more

2. Portrait of a Generation: Male and Female Sex Patterns Converge

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.7 KB)
pp. 40-60

Like I didn’t want a boyfriend and I had a couple of different guys for two and a half years that I hung out with. And neither one of us wanted a commitment or anything.” Like the other women that I interviewed, Shelly has had a sex life that is far from traditionally female. Actually, it is better described as traditionally male. As men have ...

read more

3. Changing Sexual Scripts: A Close-Up

pdf iconDownload PDF (96.8 KB)
pp. 61-84

Although this movement has been slow and has only just begun, women are more willing to take responsibility for sex, initiate it, and take an active part in directing and choosing specific sexual activities, such as a wider variety of acts, including oral and anal sex and experiments with other women. Another change is that men are now more likely ...

Part II. Doing It “Her Way”

pdf iconDownload PDF (16.7 KB)
pp. 85-86

read more

4. Virginity Reimagined: No Sex and the Single Girl

pdf iconDownload PDF (101.2 KB)
pp. 87-110

And then there are the virgins. Like these other individualists, no longer on the defensive and apologizing for their choices, virgins are expressing a new pride and are starting to stand up for themselves and be counted. Like the women who say yes, those who say no are operating from a basic ethic of the sexual evolution: the right to control their own sexuality. ...

Part III. Redefining the Family and Relationships Her Way

pdf iconDownload PDF (16.8 KB)
pp. 111-112

read more

5. Modern Marriage: From Meal Ticket to Best Friend

pdf iconDownload PDF (86.6 KB)
pp. 113-130

I always assumed I’d be working at some point; my mother worked,” said Leah, 26, a graduate student at the University of Texas. “But I was looking for someone who was just going to treat me as an equal in a lot of ways: in the kitchen, with housecleaning, with everything. A partnership. That’s our marriage.” Today, women’s roles in marriage are ...

read more

6. Choices for Remaining Single: “She’s Gonna Make It after All”

pdf iconDownload PDF (95.2 KB)
pp. 131-151

Usually that difference was marriage: “My grandmother says to me, ‘I can’t believe you’re not married yet,’” said Dionne, a student at Fullerton Junior College in California, with ambitions of becoming a lawyer. “Every time my grandfather comes to see me, ‘When are you getting married?’ I’m only 23. There’s ...

read more

7. Lesbians and Bisexuals Out and Proud: “The Groping Generation”

pdf iconDownload PDF (85.3 KB)
pp. 152-170

Few spaces are left in its vast mall-like parking lot, and inside the cavernous sanctuary, there is standing room only. Upon entering, a visitor notices some subtle differences between this church and the others. The stained-glass front, in addition to a picture of a dove of peace and an Easter lily, includes intertwined pairs of the circular symbols for ...

Part IV. Getting to “Her Way”: Social Movements for Power and Permission

pdf iconDownload PDF (16.8 KB)
pp. 171-172

read more

8. Education and Jobs, the Sexual Revolution, and the Women’s Movement: The Foundation

pdf iconDownload PDF (88.5 KB)
pp. 173-190

Rather, because they lacked power, they were dependent on male authorities such as husbands, clergy, psychologists, and doctors, who prescribed and proscribed their proper places, often within a submissive and self-sacrificing female framework. These men, previously as women’s only sources of official knowledge, ...

read more

9. Redefining Religion and Morality: Overcoming Traditional Male Authority

pdf iconDownload PDF (84.2 KB)
pp. 191-207

Ivy’s mobile home and all her belongings in Kileen, Texas, had been repossessed. Not able to pay all the bills with her waitress and then telemarketing jobs, she sent her two children to live with her family in Puerto Rico. She said that she felt she could no longer turn to Catholicism—the religion of her family and her Hispanic culture—because ...

read more

10. Women’s “Locker-Room Talk,” Safer-Sex Education, and the Media: New Information and Openness

pdf iconDownload PDF (111.5 KB)
pp. 208-232

She knew about birth control. She knew how to make the experience more enjoyable physically. She knew she shouldn’t feel guilty. After all, she had done her homework. Darlene explained her personal journey for sex information during much of our interview in her parents’ Orange County, California, home. She was on summer ...

read more

Conclusion: Beyond Becoming Like Men, Becoming Like Ourselves

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.1 KB)
pp. 233-240

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 ...


pdf iconDownload PDF (69.7 KB)
pp. 241-254


pdf iconDownload PDF (74.5 KB)
pp. 255-268


pdf iconDownload PDF (69.5 KB)
pp. 269-279

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (36.3 KB)
pp. 280

E-ISBN-13: 9780814748633
E-ISBN-10: 0814748635
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814747339
Print-ISBN-10: 0814747337

Page Count: 288
Publication Year: 2000