While young women today benefit from unprecedented education and opportunity compared to previous generations, many have trouble navigating personal and sexual relationships, Leslie C. Bell argues in her new book, Hard to Get: Twenty-Something Women and the Paradox of Sexual Freedom. Drawing from her years of experience as a researcher and a psychotherapist, Bell takes us directly into the lives of young women who struggle to negotiate the complexities of sexual desire and pleasure, and to make sense of their historically unique but contradictory constellation of opportunities and challenges.
In the latest episode of the UC Press Podcast, Bell discusses the legacy of the sexual revolution and the need for honest conversation between women in their twenties and their predecessors. In a wide-ranging discussion, she addresses methodological issues like the representation of queer women in her study, the benefits of a small sample size, and what sets her findings apart from those discovered in a survey.
For more, read Salon’s interview with Bell, “Finally! A nuanced look at hookup culture,” and Bell’s op-ed in Psychology Today, “What Lena Dunham’s Girls Know, And Dora the Explorer Doesn’t.”