The Current

Passion and pain: Why this writer studied women's most intimate desires

Journalist Lisa Taddeo spoke to hundreds of women for her book about human desire, but one thing stood out about the three women who eventually became her focus: their bravery.

Journalist Lisa Taddeo wanted to discuss desire from the female perspective

Lisa Taddeo is the author of Three Women, a book about desire, told through the lives of three women. (J. Waite/Simon & Schuster)
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Journalist Lisa Taddeo spoke to hundreds of women for her book about human desire, but one thing stood out about the three women who eventually became her focus.

"These women were just brave enough to talk about it," said Taddeo, author of Three Women.

She told The Current's guest host Laura Lynch that in the interviews she conducted, she found that everyone had experienced emotional pain, as well as passion. However, most people were too afraid to share those experiences because they feared what other people might think.

By contrast, the three women she featured "were honest about the way that their pain has shaped who they were. They were also honest about their passion."

Their feelings of desire and lust were so much more compelling, to me anyway.- Lisa Taddeo

The book features Lina, a housewife who embarks on an affair after her marriage loses all physical intimacy; Maggie, who takes her former teacher to court on allegations they had a sexual relationship while she was underage; and Sloane, whose husband picks out partners for her to have sex with, while he watches.

Desire from a female perspective

When Taddeo first set out to write the book, she was handed another writer's work as inspiration.

But that supposed inspiration, written by a man who'd spent time with swingers and operated a massage parlour, turned out to be "incredibly male," she told Lynch.

"And I wondered how a book about desire told from a female perspective would look."

That curiosity set Taddeo off on an eight-year journey to write her book. Although she started by interviewing both men and women, she said it was the women whose stories she was ultimately drawn to.

"Their stories were rendered with such complexity that their self-awareness about their feelings of desire and lust were so much more compelling, to me anyway."


Written by Kirsten Fenn. Produced by Jessica Linzey and Geoff Turner.

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