I enjoyed this book. It made me want to see things. It made me want to be considerate and thoughtful. It made me think of the women in my life in general and my relationship with them in particular.
Having these stories told by a woman with such close and extensive knowledge of the lives and situations of these women was enlightening. The epilogue is fantastic! It has to be re-read!
It must be said that this book reads as a juicy narrative more than a feminist-manifesto. Reading these stories made me both cry and feel like I wanted to have sex at times.
Feminism and this book
This book is no more than what its title declares: a book about three women and their sex lives.
Many of the articles I read about this book before I read the book almost positioned it as a feminist book. I don’t find this to be true.
Taddeo keeps clear of any analysis and theoretical jugement. There are no explanations for the events in the book other than them simply being parts of these womens’ lives.
Although Taddeo refrains from explicitly pointing to the way men have shaped and continue to shape the lives of these women, their desires and sexuality, it remains apparent that this is the case. I felt the stories really benefitted from the author’s female gaze.
- Maggie: misused by and in love with a teacher as a teen, things with him were consensual but manipulative, he’s married and a respectable man outwards
- Lina: unhappy desire-less marriage, gang-raped as a teen, has an affair with an unavailable man she had a brief relationship with as a teen, he wants sex from her, she gets so much more
- Sloane: beautiful and perfect, has sex with other men so her man can watch, she loves him a lot, grew up to be “perfect”, controlling keep-up-appearances kind of family
One inheritance of living under the male gaze for centuries is that heterosexual women often look at other women the way a man would.
My mother never spoke of what she wanted. About what turned her on or off. Sometimes it seemed that she didn’t have any desires of her own. That her sexuality was merely a trail in the woods, the unmarked kind that is made by boots tramplling tall grass. And the boots belonged to my father.
We pretend to want things we don’t want so nobody can see us not getting what we need.
on womanhood p. 7
Sometimes, Sloane saw, there could be an inbalance in a relationship between two women, when one also likes to sleep with men and the other doesn’t. Sometimes the one who doesn’t can feel that the other woman is a betrayer. She might worry that the other woman wants more, not just the penis, not something a dildo can’t sate, but the idea of a man, the idea of someone who is larger, the idea of being ecstatically subjugated by masculine energy.
But life knows when to throw in a plot twist. It is an idle but seasoned screenwriter, drinking beers alone and cultivating its archery.
There are people who will say that nothing that happened was against her will. That she was seventeen. In another few months it wouldn’t even be statutory rape. But imagine a girl, who has idealised a fairy-tale love story, reading notes effectively saying, Yes yes, I am your vampire lover and you are my forbidden fruit. We are your favourite love story. For the rest of your life nothing will taste like this. Can you imagine.