Lean In Sexuality and the Labor of Self-Discovery

Sarah Stoller in the Los Angeles Review of Books:

You don’t have to look far in 2021 to come across the celebratory rhetoric of women’s sexual empowerment. Were it not for ongoing reports of sexual harassment and abuse in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it might appear at a glance that we now live in a fully liberated era of sexuality for women, the culmination of decades of feminist progress. In addition to popular new guides to women’s sexual pleasure like OMGyes, recent years have seen the mainstreaming of porn by and for women by figures like Erika Lust; the popularization of sex therapy; the rise of posh, ticketed, women’s-only sex parties; the ongoing proliferation of sex toys for women; and the diversification of sexual pleasure for lesbian, bi, and trans women — all accompanied by an insistence that closing the so-called “orgasm gap” is now within reach.

The declaration that women’s sexuality is no longer secret or shameful has arrived in tandem with the promise that women can, and therefore should, know their desires, declare them proudly, and go about fulfilling them. In a landscape of apparently unbounded opportunities for self-realization and pleasure, it can now seem as though the not-yet-transcendentally-satisfied woman has only herself to blame. And why not?

More here.