American culture is more sexually liberal than ever. But compared to men, women’s sexual pleasure has not grown: Up to 40 percent of American women experience the sexual malaise clinically known as low sexual desire. Between this low desire, muted pleasure, and experiencing sex in terms of labor rather than of lust, women by the millions are dissatisfied with their erotic lives.
For too long, this deficit has been explained in terms of women’s biology, stress, and age. In The Pleasure Gap, Katherine Rowland rejects the idea that women should settle for diminished pleasure; instead, she argues women should take inequality in the bedroom as seriously as we take it in the workplace and understand its causes and effects. Drawing on extensive research and interviews with more than one hundred women and dozens of sexual health professionals, Rowland shows that the pleasure gap is neither medical malady nor psychological condition but rather a result of our culture’s troubled relationship with women’s sexual expression. This provocative exploration of modern sexuality makes a case for closing the gap for good.