Hot and Bothered: Men and Women, Sex and Love in the '90s


276 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 1-55013-391-8
DDC 392'.6





Reviewed by Sarah Robertson

Sarah Robertson is an editor in the College Division of Nelson Canada.


In 1989 Wendy Dennis wrote an article called “Sexual Etiquette for the
’90s” for Toronto Life. A storm of public response ensued, out of
which Hot and Bothered was eventually born. Based on interviews with the
love-bemused and on consultations with “sexperts,” this breezy and
irreverent book will disappoint scholars and social scientists for its
lack of methodology, while enthusiasts of how-to manuals—about which
Dennis is properly scornful—will hunt in vain for quick-fix solutions
to the romance crisis.

Part 1 addresses both the corrosive effects of sexual politics on
modern romance and the warfare between biological and social imperatives
that has been wrought by what Dennis sees as an unholy alliance between
feminism and political correctness. (Although she castigates feminism
for its failure to consider how the movement has “disoriented” men,
Dennis, a self-described “vanguard feminist,” is quick to disparage
calls for a return to traditional sex roles.) Part 2 takes a Miss
Manners-Ann Landers approach to perennial topics like flirting, dating,
commitment, condoms, sex, and extramarital affairs. It answers the
timely question “What’s a politically correct blowjob?” but
eschews discussion of S&M and like forms of sexual experimentation.

Ending the book with a whimper, Part 3 offers the groundbreaking
revelation that “sex is an intimate, meaningful act,” and counsels
that when it comes to sex and love, honesty between men and women is the
best policy. Still, Dennis has managed to capture the sexual pulse of
the times—and what a tangled one it is. As an interviewee notes,
“relationships are in a dreadful state of transition.” Whether or
not positive “change and synthesis” is imminent, Dennis is wise to
leave an open question.


Dennis, Wendy., “Hot and Bothered: Men and Women, Sex and Love in the '90s,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,