Saturday, October 16, 2004

Naomi Wolf, Promiscuities, 1997.

I hadn't read anything by Wolf, and this one had been recommended to me. Essentially, Wolf argues that women in our culture have an unfortunate time with their sexuality: they're not taught it well; they're exposed to an enormous number of inappropriate/wrong-headed examples, stereotypes, and media portrayals; they're asked to live within false dichotomies; as adults, they all too often remain uncomfortable with their sexualities because of these experiences.

Wolf goes through a number of reasons and offers a number of examples of why these things are true, performing what amounts to a series of close-readings of culture, history, texts, and experiences (her own and a selected peer-group). These close-readings are well and carefully done, and her arguments are persuasive. My hesitancy with treating this book in more of a sociological perspective, as opposed to a cultural studies perspective is caused by the very limited sample space that Wolf employs for the experiential histories that she incorporates into her work. Her conclusions, though, make a great deal of sense. While I'm not convinced that the suggestions that she offers for taking away the stigmatization that affects women in regards to their sexualities will in any way afford a comprehensive solution to the problems Wolf enumerates, her suggestions certainly offer a sensible beginning and important considerations (particularly for those people raising and teaching young women).