Sexual Autonomy

Three Women

Lisa Taddeo explores the question of free will and the extent of female sexual and romantic autonomy.

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Three Women is a strange beast. Lisa Taddeo's surprise sociological summer hit examines the intimate lives of—unsurprisingly—three women: Maggie, Lina, and Sloane. Central to the real-life study is the question of free will and the extent of female sexual and romantic autonomy.

The book is peculiarly written, by turns academic and flowery. Taddeo is also a novelist, and it shows, not always in ideal ways for a nonfiction medium. But the neutral hyper-close scrutiny she affords her subjects feels pleasingly precise and scientific at a time when every TED Talk seems to be framed around a perfectly illustrative trendline or factoid.

The interwoven narratives offer an interesting way out of the tangle of lies, damned lies, and statistics that govern so much of our thinking about relations between the genders and about the roles of personal choice, state coercion, and cultural expectations.

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