The ‘Male Wish’ That Traps Young Women
Nov 26, 2018
“Men...admit that what really irritates them about modern women is that they can't, or won't, give themselves completely to men,” Nora Johnson wrote in her 1959 Atlantic article, Sex and the College Girl. “This is undoubtedly true … And this, God knows, is a good thing.”
In the article, which is excerpted and animated in the video above, Johnson grappled with changing expectations about sex, romance, and gender roles as society began to afford women more opportunity in the workplace. A common fallout, Johnson argued, was that young women felt the need to “settle” by trading passionate romance for comfort and stability. College-age girls could only hope to avoid disappointment by managing their expectations and maintaining a certain romantic reticence.
“There must always be something held in reserve,” Johnson writes, “a part of her that she will give to no one, not even her husband. It is her belief in herself … It is the dream of the things she never did.”
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: Caitlin Cadieux
About This Series
Short, animated videos from The Atlantic