Three Women by Lisa Taddeo

One of the most buzzed about books this summer has been journalist Lisa Taddeo's Three Women, a look into the sexual lives of three women over several years. I have purposefully stayed away from reviews, trying to sort out what my thoughts on the book were first. The three women are in many ways different, but there are also some solid similarities as well. When the book begins, Maggie is in high school, and we learn that she is developing an inappropriate relationship with one of her teachers, that ends up in a court (this young woman's story broke my heart the most). Sloanne owns a restaurant with her husband, who likes to set her up with other men and watch their sexual encounters. Finally, Lina is a stay-at-home-mom who desperately wants her husband to pay attention to her, so she starts having an affair with her boyfriend from high school, where she is at his beck-and-call and begs for his attention.

None of their stories are happy, none end well, and none make you feel very hopeful. And at the forefront of all of them is sex.

So what is that saying about these women? Women in general? Our society's perception of female sexuality?

The one thread that stuck out to me the most was the connection these women made between self-esteem and sex. For them, sex was a direct representation of how much they were valued by the men in their lives and not having it made them miserable and feel as if they were being punished. Their self-worth was directly tied to how receptive their partners were, some of which were particularly horrible. 

The book is incredibly intimate, Taddeo's descriptions holding very little back. She has removed herself from the narrative, and at times her truthful accounts feel more like a novel. Questioning the role sex plays in your life is basically inevitble when you read this book, so definitely be prepared for that personal aspect if you decide to read this. I think this is definitely an important book; sex is often sort of romanticized, joked about, or ignored in so much of society. And I fully acknowledge that it's personal and don't mean to imply that we need to be talking about it at Starbuck with the person making our coffee. I do think that it can be really important key in self-reflection, though, and this book is an interesting take on doing so.

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