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Book Review: From polyamory to porn, the excellent Future Sex explores “free love” today

It’s a phrase that conjures images of blissed-out, long-haired women dancing in a field, of shirtless men in bell bottoms with fingers spread into peace signs in Haight-Ashbury: free love. Once a marker of rebellion against a society and government policing its citizens’ relationships, “free love”—the freedom to have sex without marriage or bearing children, to have sex with someone of the same gender—has at once become the norm and gone out of style. In her insightful, generation-defining collection of essays, Emily Witt explores what sexual freedom, especially for women, means in contemporary Western society. In San Francisco, that free-love locus of yore, Witt investigates the webcam economy; attends workshops for orgasmic meditation, in which a stranger strokes a woman’s genitals; and expands her mind with (or at least occasionally consumes) drugs. Future Sex is Joan Didion meets fetish porn.

Witt adopts a similar structure for …

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