Tamara Tenenbaum The End of Love

The End of Love: Sex and Desire in the Twenty-First Century

By 03 April, 2024

In this essay, now translated into English by Carolina Parodi and also adapted into a Spanish-language Prime Video series, Argentine journalist Tamara Tenembaum explores the ways in which love and desire manifest in the age of virtual and digital reality.

Her initial point of departure seems to be the contrasts between her unique upbringing (Tenembaum grew up in the Orthodox Jewish community of Once in Buenos Aires) and her personal life as an adult outside of the community, although these references are rather dissipated throughout the text. She also tells of her experiences during her transition out of the community and into the secular world, with a particular focus on how women face the possibilities and challenges of loving and desiring in the era of social media and hypercommunication.

Each chapter of the essay addresses a different issue like motherhood, consent and self-image—but all these issues are examined through a lens of female sensitivity. In this regard, Tenembaum positions herself in the first pages of her essay as a heterosexual, cisgender, educated, feminist woman.

The first thing to highlight about the journalist’s work is that she poses more questions than solutions, opens up inquiries, and exposes them for self-reflection. This is a positive and enriching aspect of the essay since Tenembaum, despite using extensive documentation to support her own positions, never supposes a perspective of superiority. Regarding topics such as motherhood, consent and the construction of female image, for example, she brings up theories and examples that, rather than providing an opinion and a rigid stance, open up space for questions and challenge our own convictions, making us realise that even those of us who identify as feminists and try to be consistent with that stance still play into the patriarchy’s game in some aspects of our lives.

One example she mentions on more than one occasion is how women try to adjust our image to suit dominant beauty standards and how, despite understanding the enslaving nature of this attitude, we cannot take the first step ourselves to break the power that subjugates us. This personal realization is mobilizing and invites us to continue rethinking our place as women within this society that moves towards equality but all too slowly.

Tenembaum’s essay brings lucidity but also freshness to the body of readings advocating for greater liberation of women within the structure of patriarchal society. Although the author is very well informed and gives a range of references, her text is based much more on her own personal experiences. For this reason, some of her statements may not resonate with the subjectivity of the reader, but that does not mean they should be arguments to be dismissed in the debate.

Ultimately, the liberation of women and our fulfillment within society has to do precisely with advocating for our visibility, subjectivity and desires, and this experience goes against the generalisation and polarisation to which women are still subjected in the patriarchal structure: we are neither virgins nor femmes fatales, we are subjects with desires and each one desires differently. As Tenembaum says: ‘Thinking about desire demands […] a morality based on specifics and not generalisations.’

Tamara Tenenbaum The End of Love translated by Carolina Parodi

The End of Love: Sex and Desire in the Twenty-First Century
Tamara Tenembaum
2024 – Europa Editions
Translated by Carolina Parodi

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