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“This is a moment when people like to take pictures of their perfect lives, and I don’t think there’s much pressure on a perfect life to be anything but old-fashioned and conventional,” he said. Stein’s observations is an animating spirit throughout Ms. at Yale in the joint program of Comparative Literature and Film and Media Studies, is an academic by training, and uses the comprehensive research and dispassionate analytic style that she has honed in school. ” only to realize with horror how absurd it was that, every inch the self-respecting, educated writer and thinker, she still craved guidance from a man on this most individual of questions.

Witt’s book: her quest to find some kind of new arrangement, even while she harbors a fierce attachment to the old ones.“Labor of Love: The Invention of Dating,” by Moira Weigel, is, like Ms. It wasn’t until the end of the process of writing her book that Ms. She includes the story in the first pages of her book; it’s one of the few explicitly personal exchanges she relays. Weigel, the entire process felt “urgent” and intensely personal, she told me, because the questions of how people relate to each other romantically were the ones she cared about.“I really wanted to take the subjects of love, sex and dating seriously and felt keenly aware of the trap that I had seen many young female writers pushed into, when they were encouraged to focus on ‘personal’ subjects.

Her past books, including “The Purity Myth” and “Full Frontal Feminism,” have been essayistic and polemical.

But she, like so many of her feminist icons, invokes that old mantra about the personal and the political.“As a culture, we’re only comfortable with women’s sexual stories being told from a male point of view,” Ms. “It’s not that we’re not comfortable with women’s sexuality — we see women’s sexuality plastered all over ads and movies and television shows.

I guess that’s why I’m more to the side of reticence and discretion than full-blown execution.”For her, it is a kind of anguish to call upon the personal, and the personal parts of her books are, she said, the ones she hates to write. Laing does it, in part because, as she said, “I guess I think it’s ethical to make something of your own experience transparent if you’re going to be digging around in other peoples’ lives.”Unlike Ms.

And it felt like the protagonist in some ways, the main person experiencing all of this, was women.”Thus began her quest to understand the consequences of these changes.“The thing is, I don’t feel like I massively do that,” she said. I don’t feel like I’m someone who writes about dating.”Yet the impetus for her most recent book, “The Lonely City,” came when Ms.Laing, in her mid-30s — “an age at which female aloneness … Laing’s primary subject is not herself, but rather artists like Edward Hopper and Andy Warhol and Henry Darger, for whom, she argues, loneliness was everywhere. Laing herself appears in flashes all through the narrative, in cameos of solitude, staring into neighbors’ windows, skimming the personal ads on Craigslist, going on first dates with the men she finds there, but never any second dates.These writers have been greeted with a great deal of attention, yet there remains the anxious sense that to write about such topics is to risk forfeiting gravitas. Witt’s book is among the most personal of the bunch, offering up her perceptions of (and adventures in) the worlds of internet dating, internet pornography, orgasmic meditation and the kink industry. Witt’s book is her willingness to confess her unhappiness.“You can tell yourself different stories about why things are happening,” Ms. “I knew the story that I was telling myself — that I would eventually meet someone and get married — felt really false.

And also, it just wasn’t happening.”And so, she headed to the West Coast to try to figure out some other way to be content, if it turns out that the romantic-comedy concept of love, with its perfect, permanent, tea-for-two ending, was not to be hers.“Part of why I wanted to write the book was that everything I read told me that my life was a question of luck and chance, and if it didn’t work out, if I didn’t meet somebody,” she said.Witt’s book, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Weigel, 31, offers a different angle on love — and a different sensibility. Weigel was compelled to delve into the moment it all began. Particularly potentially titillating subjects,” Ms. Weigel later wrote in an email.“It’s this weird double bind, isn’t it: On the one hand, it’s as if editors and readers don’t trust young women to know about anything other than their own lives.And then on the other hand we are often asked — structural sexism asks us — to speak for all women, any time we write.Witt began writing, she was nervous and reticent, and wrote in the third person.



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