Maggie Gallagher

Huh? Monica, you may recall, was a young woman who snapped her thong at a powerful, indiscriminate older man for reasons she did not fully understand, and who ended up falling in love, waiting by the phone, fantasizing about the wedding, obsessing about his neckties, and generally acting about as unmasculine in the conduct of her sexual affairs as possible. At the last moment, when she realized her utter dispensability and therefore utter sexual humiliation, she tried to blackmail the president into getting her a paltry, pathetic, $40,000-a-year PR position in the cosmetics industry. Monica's path led neither to much sex nor any power.

Except the power, of course, to feed an endless cycle of grad student theses and academic essays on the joys of self-defined sexuality.

Even younger feminists are recognizing a great big hole in the middle of the Monica model. "The most dramatic sexual evolutions documented in this book involved women's acting and thinking more like men, such as having more partners and premarital sex without shame," notes Kamen. But then she abruptly retreats, wondering whether acting like men "seems like the easy part": "I myself have noticed this male paradigm as dominant even among my 'liberated' friends. ... a few of them called me because they didn't understand why they weren't satisfied with their casual, uncommitted sexual relationships." "But guys do this. Why should I want more?" Female desire for sexual commitment has been redefined as sissy stuff. Or, as Kamen notes, women who want emotional connections "feel as though they must be weak."

You want some MetaMonica moralizing? Try this: Meaningless sex and sexual power are not the same thing. Certainly not for young women. Just ask Monica.

Maggie Gallagher

Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.