The Pleasure Gap (Hardcover)

American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution

By Katherine Rowland

Seal Press, 9781580058360, 304pp.

Publication Date: February 4, 2020

List Price: 28.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.


p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'} Women in America experience far less sexual pleasure than men. What is to be done?

p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 12.0px 'Times New Roman'} American culture is more sexually liberal than ever. But compared to men, women's sexual pleasure has not grown: Millions 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, but 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.

About the Author

Katherine Rowland was previously the publisher and executive director of Guernica. She holds a masters in Sociomedical Sciences from Columbia University, where she was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research fellow in medical anthropology. She has contributed to Nature, the Financial Times, Green Futures, the Guardian, the Independent, Aeon, Psychology Today, and elsewhere. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Praise For The Pleasure Gap: American Women and the Unfinished Sexual Revolution

"In The Pleasure Gap, Katharine Rowland takes on a feminist issue that has not received the attention it deserves: the inequality between women and men in the fraught and intimate area of sexual pleasure. Well-written and deeply researched, this book illuminates a topic that has profound implications for women's personal happiness and well-being."—Elaine Tyler May, author of America and the Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation

"A joy to read, and an important conversation about our right to pleasure: how we fake and perform, instead of value our actual sensations, cutting ourselves off from our own sexual enjoyment, which is our birthright. No one should deny themselves pleasure, nor the pleasure of this book, and its inevitable aftermath in their lives."—Julie Holland, author of Moody Bitches: The Truth About the Drugs You're Taking, the Sleep You're Missing, the Sex You're Not Having, and What's Really Making You Crazy

In The Pleasure Gap, Katherine Rowland takes a candid and unflinching look at the factors that drive sexual desire deficits for cis, heterosexual women. Sweeping away the cobwebs of dusty explanations for women's 'loss of sexual drive,' Rowland uncovers the real reasons for the sexual pleasure void that so many women experience. As her sometimes-gutting, heartbreaking interviews with dozens of women show, it's not in their minds, it's not in their bodies-it's in the culture that compresses and oppresses their sexual expression. Many women will see themselves in these stories and find commonalities that connect and resonate. But Rowland doesn't stop her narrative at these revelations. She closes the deal with the reader by offering frank insights into ways to close the gap, with a welcome focus on how we can mute the voices of our society and listen to our own bodies and minds."—Emily Willingham, coauthor of The Informed Parent: A Science-Based Resource for Your Child's First Four Years