Deserving Desire, Deserving Desire, 0813564395, 0-8135-6439-5, 978-0-8135-6439-5, 9780813564395, , , Deserving Desire, 0813570220, 0-8135-7022-0, 978-0-8135-7022-8, 9780813570228, , , Deserving Desire, 0813570247, 0-8135-7024-7, 978-0-8135-7024-2, 9780813570242, , , Deserving Desire, 0813573068, 0-8135-7306-8, 978-0-8135-7306-9, 9780813573069,
Deserving Desire

Women's Stories of Sexual Evolution
Beth Montemurro (Author)
256 pages, 7 tables, 6 x 9
Paper, September 2014 $27.95   ADD TO CART
Cloth, September 2014 $85.00   ADD TO CART
Web PDF, September 2014 $27.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
epub, September 2014 $27.95   EBOOK VERSION AVAILABLE
Subject Area:
Sociology, Women's Studies, General Interest


Women experience considerable changes in their bodies, lives, and identity between the ages of twenty and seventy, including marriage, motherhood, the dissolution of relationships, and menopause, all of which often impact sexuality. In Deserving Desire, Beth Montemurro takes a wide-ranging look at the evolution of women’s sexuality over time, with a specific focus on the development of sexual subjectivity—that is sexual confidence, agency, and a sense of entitlement to sexual desire.

Detailed stories of the ninety-five women in this study explore how they become more comfortable with their bodies, when most begin to enjoy sex, feel confident and positive about engaging in it, and how they become sexual subjects in control of their bodies. Deserving Desire explores the complex multi-stage process in which sexual subjectivity evolves over a woman’s lifetime. As girls, they learn about sex and how those around them—parents, peers, religion and media—regard sex. Physical and emotional transitions such as having a baby or ending a relationship further affect women’s sexual confidence and desire. Montemurro emphasizes that sexual subjectivity is about feeling in control of sexual decision making and acting purposefully and confidently. 

Though adolescent sexuality has been a major focus of sociological research, few studies have examined, as Montemurro does here, the development of sexuality through women’s lives and the events that change the way women feel about themselves, their bodies, and their relationships.


"Deserving Desire is a fascinating read, offering insight into women’s sexuality as they age from adolescence through adulthood and beyond."
—Elizabeth A. Armstrong, University of Michigan

"The sexual subjectivity of women has been a black box, glimpsed into, yet never fully opened up for examination. With Deserving Desire, Beth Montemurro joins a small group of excellent writers who help us understand what a complex subject sexuality is for women. The honest and in-depth interviews in this book encourage women to think about why sex has been considered shameful, and they illustrate how women can create good sexual lives on their own terms. Montemurro is to be congratulated for the quality and sensitivity of her work."
—Pepper Schwartz, author of The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples

"This is fascinating book. As a result of thoughtful interviewing, it is full of insights into the dynamics of women’s sexual lives and relationships. Montemurro uses her original, developmental model to bring some order to the material and to highlight enduring themes. This book is a should read for researchers and scholars interested in women’s sexuality in U.S. society. It is an important
application of the life course perspective to sexuality. It is the first book to address female sexual subjectivity throughout life in depth."
to discussions of a number of issues in these courses.
—Sex Roles

Author / Editor Bio

BETH MONTEMURRO is an associate professor of sociology at Penn State University, Abington. She is the author of Something Old, Something Bold: Bridal Showers and Bachelorette Parties (Rutgers University Press). 

Table Of Contents

1 Introduction
2 Developing a Stance: Sowing the Seeds of Sexual Subjectivity
3 Learning through Doing: Early Exploration and Experience
4 Validation, Affirmation, and Encouragement: Sexual Relationships of Consequence
5 Self- Discovery through Role and Relationship Changes: Divorce
6 Self- Discovery through Role and Relationship Changes: Motherhood
7 Self-Discovery through Embodied Changes: The Physical Experience of Motherhood
8 Self- Discovery through Embodied Changes: Aging and Menopause
9 Self- Acceptance: Staying Sexual Subjects
Appendix A: Demographic Characteristics of Research Participants
Appendix B: Methodology


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