The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship

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HarperCollins, Sep 22, 2015 - History - 400 pages

From historian and acclaimed feminist author of How the French Invented Love and A History of the Wife comes this rich, multifaceted history of the evolution of female friendship.

In today’s culture, the bonds of female friendship are taken as a given. But only a few centuries ago, the idea of female friendship was completely unacknowledged, even pooh-poohed. Only men, the reasoning went, had the emotional and intellectual depth to develop and sustain these meaningful relationships.

Surveying history, literature, philosophy, religion, and pop culture, acclaimed author and historian Marilyn Yalom and co-author Theresa Donovan Brown demonstrate how women were able to co-opt the public face of friendship throughout the years. Chronicling shifting attitudes toward friendship—both female and male—from the Bible and the Romans to the Enlightenment to the women’s rights movements of the ‘60s up to Sex and the City and Bridesmaids, they reveal how the concept of female friendship has been inextricably linked to the larger social and cultural movements that have defined human history.

Armed with Yalom and Brown as our guides, we delve into the fascinating historical episodes and trends that illuminate the story of friendship between women: the literary salon as the original book club, the emergence of female professions and the working girl, the phenomenon of gossip, the advent of women’s sports, and more.

Lively, informative, and richly detailed, The Social Sex is a revelatory cultural history.

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The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship

User Review  - Publishers Weekly

Yalom (How the French Invented Love) and Brown digest impressive swaths of literature as they investigate the bonds between historical women, making the bulk of the book a showcase of exemplary pairs ... Read full review

The Social Sex: A History of Female Friendship

User Review  - Book Verdict

With this work, coauthors Yalom (A History of the Wife; A History of the Breast) and Brown (Summitville) promise a history of female friendship, an ambitious project that varies in depth and ... Read full review

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About the author (2015)

Marilyn Yalom is a former professor of French and a senior scholar at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford University. She is the author of widely acclaimed books such as A History of the Breast, A History of the Wife, Birth of the Chess Queen, and, most recently, How the French Invented Love. She lives in Palo Alto, California, with her husband, psychiatrist and author Irvin D. Yalom.

Theresa Donovan Brown is an award-winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. She holds a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. Her background writing policy-level speeches for global economic leaders, trading securities, and running a financial communications firm informs her insights into the cultural history of friendship.

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