At this point you might be thinking “well she would wouldn’t she?“.
Bell claims that modern women in their twenties are “more confused, conflicted and uncertain” about what they want from sex and relationships than previous generations.
That’s despite being better educated, achieving more in their careers, and not feeling they have to get married or have babies in their twenties.
Dr Bell says women “have trouble expressing their needs” and “have difficulty being vulnerable” (why would they want to be?). Apparently they say they want satisfying sex and relationships but put a lot of energy into protecting themselves from getting hurt.
In her book, “Hard to Get”, which is based on interviews with 60 women, so hardly representative of the population as a whole, she claims that whilst women have all this freedom and opportunities to be independent, to pursue education, careers, and personal & sexual development, they receive little guidance in how to navigate the desires, vulnerabilities and internal conflicts that go with those freedoms. She calls this the Freedom Paradox.
Marriage and motherhood used to mark the transition to adulthood. With girls now starting sexual relations at 16, if not younger, they have many years of sexual activity before they feel the need to settle down around the age of 30 (average marriage age is now 33 although they have children at 30 years of age).
Bell is clearly concerned about what it means to be an empowered or liberated woman. There has been a spate of books offering conflicting advice to young women in recent years and Bell’s book adds to that confusion. I wonder if the fact she is a psychotherapist influenced her selection of women to interview; maybe others are doing OK thank you .
Young women are clearly more independent and can compete with boys when it comes to bad behaviour. They also do better at school and university and can earn more than young men early in their careers (before motherhood creates an enforced break for most of them).
There are also more people living alone than ever before so is there really such a thing as the freedom paradox? It seems to me most young women just get on with their lives and probably cope better than most young men.