Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity

Overview

They have sex too early and for the wrong reasons.
They get STDs. They get pregnant too young.
They have "friends with benefits" but with no benefit to themselves.
They don't get called. They get dumped.
They hate themselves for being unlovable for being needy.
They are loose girls they are everywhere and ...

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Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity

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Overview

They have sex too early and for the wrong reasons.
They get STDs. They get pregnant too young.
They have "friends with benefits" but with no benefit to themselves.
They don't get called. They get dumped.
They hate themselves for being unlovable for being needy.
They are loose girls they are everywhere and they need our help.

In the provocative hit memoir Loose Girl, Kerry Cohen explored her own promiscuity with brutal candor and stunning clarity. Dirty Little Secrets is the eye-opening follow-up readers have been clamoring for, a riveting look at today's adolescent girls who use sex as a means to prove their worth. Cohen lays bare the hard truths about this dangerous life that reveals itself in girls you wouldn't expect and in ways you might not see-and that can seriously damage and hurt these girls. Featuring stories from self-admitted loose girls across the country, Dirty Little Secrets is an unforgettable wake-up call for our culture, ourselves, and our vulnerable daughters.

"Very few people can write about teen girls' sexual promiscuity with the candor, empathy, and intelligence Kerry Cohen does...I think any girl who reads this will recognize at least one girl she knows-and that girl may be looking back at her in the mirror."
-Rosalind Wiseman, new york times bestselling author of QUEEN BEES AND WANNABES and BOYS, GIRLS, AND OTHER HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

"As compassionate as it is enlightening, Kerry Cohen's Dirty Little Secrets argues for female safety and desire, and provides a road map for authentically healthy, vital sexuality."
-Jennifer Baumgardner, author of Look Both Ways, F 'Em, and Manifesta

"A must-read, for it sheds light on the truth behind the secrets and lies teens tell themselves... Women of all ages can relate and benefit from this book-I can't recommend it enough. Dirty Little Secrets is urgently needed."
-Amber Smith, model and star of Dr. Drew Pinsky's Celebrity Rehab and Celebrity Sex Rehab

"Kerry Cohen has 'been there'-and it shows in her empathy, her insight, and her remarkable ability to draw out the truth...Dirty Little Secrets busts the myths, breaks down walls, and takes us where we need to go to understand the private lives of so many young women today."
-Hugo Schwyzer, PhD, Pasadena City College, Coauthor, Beauty, Disrupted: the Carré Otis Story

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Kerry Cohen is a psychotherapist, but she doesn't write about teenage promiscuity as a detached observer; her own memoir Loose Girl vividly recounts her own immersion in self-degrading sex. The dirty little secrets of her book's title are not the troubling statistics on teenage pregnancy so often quoted in the media; instead, they are the painfully hidden practices of young girls who attempt to use sex to secure relationships with boys. As this book demonstrates with example after example, this impetuous strategy seldom works; in fact, it usually ends in ostracism and self-loathing. A powerful preemptive message.

Booklist
"Cohen (Loose Girl, 2008) returns to her signature subject: teenage girls and promiscuity...Smashing statistics, ferreting out falsehoods, and exploring a multitude of reasons behind why girls use sex to prove their worth, Cohen calls for us to "transform the culture when it comes to teen girls and sex"."
New York Journal of Books
"Ms. Cohen's Dirty Little Secrets is a perfect catalyst for mother/daughter discussions. It is a safe place to start a scary talk about this issue so relevant to young women-and young men...At its heart, Dirty Little Secrets is a wake-up call. Settle in, relax, and embrace its shocking content."
Slasher Chick
"Dirty Little Secrets is eye-opening, insightful, and definitely an exercise in self-reflection. Most importantly, it's a conversation starter for a talk that's been a long time coming."
From the Publisher
"[Cohen] seeks to identify the loose girl experience and help girls gain power over their own lives."

"Cohen (Loose Girl, 2008) returns to her signature subject: teenage girls and promiscuity...Smashing statistics, ferreting out falsehoods, and exploring a multitude of reasons behind why girls use sex to prove their worth, Cohen calls for us to "transform the culture when it comes to teen girls and sex"."

"Ms. Cohen's Dirty Little Secrets is a perfect catalyst for mother/daughter discussions. It is a safe place to start a scary talk about this issue so relevant to young women-and young men...At its heart, Dirty Little Secrets is a wake-up call. Settle in, relax, and embrace its shocking content."

"Serves as an engaging catalyst for discussions about a taboo issue."

"Dirty Little Secrets is eye-opening, insightful, and definitely an exercise in self-reflection. Most importantly, it's a conversation starter for a talk that's been a long time coming."

"A strong beginning to an important conversation. An important book for feminist and social science collections."

"Includes first-hand accounts, discussion questions for school counselors and parents, behavior assessments, and resources for teens and parents about sex and relationships."

Kirkus Reviews

Cohen (Loose Girl, 2009) broadens her examination of promiscuity by sharing stories of women from varying backgrounds and experiences.

The author asserts that she wrote the book because many women "wanted answers, a formula, to get themselves to a new place, to stop harming themselves with their promiscuity." As in many works that explore women and self-image, Cohen discusses how media and society's distortion of women's roles starts early, often before we even realize what is happening. She relates how, despite careful parenting, she noticed that when her 3-year-old son put on a cape, the people he pretended to save were always female. With respect to technological advancements in society, Cohen includes a chapter titled "Brave New World," which tackles modern topics like sexting and online chatting. Young girls use these avenues to explore their sexuality; the author provides an example of Amelia, who uses "sexting and cyber sex to pick up boys she likes who she meets in school, but is too shy to speak to in person." Cohen goes on to say that Amelia admits that she uses this activity obsessively and gets insulted when rejected. The author offers tangible advice including how sharing stories and creating new habits, such as self-reflection and setting boundaries, can address this issue.

Largely anecdotal but serves as an engaging catalyst for discussions about a taboo issue.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402260698
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 490,261
  • Product dimensions: 5.56 (w) x 8.53 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Kerry Cohen is the author of the memoir Loose Girl: A Memoir of Promiscuity and three young adult novels. She received an MA in creative writing from the University of Oregon and an MA in counseling psychology from Pacific University. A psychotherapist who has focused her practice on adolescent girls and issues related to promiscuity, she lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.

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Read an Excerpt

LETTER TO MY TEENAGE SELF

I see you. It's summer, that salty, hazy time when the sun's heat on your skin feels like the promise of something. When light breezes feel like soft kisses on your face. You're tan, sun kissed, highlighted. You're pretty, but you don't think you're pretty enough, not enough to make you worth loving.
A boy thinks you're pretty, too. You know that. I see you, the way you throw him glances, shy smiles, the way he looks back, eager. I see you, the stirring inside, the way you perk up. You're thinking, Maybe this one will save me. Your father is unaware. Your mother is one thousand miles away. So you go with the boy, because he's there with you. You go off into the long beach grass, behind storage sheds, into the bedroom of the rented beach house when your dad is gone. Your hands are always on him, and when they're not, your mind remains on him. Every kiss, every touch, makes you want more, more, more, and soon nothing is enough, nothing feels good enough, nothing fills you. Just like always. And you start to push for more. You start to push even though you know you shouldn't, even though you know you'll push too hard. You always do. And sure enough, the moment comes. You say, "Stay with me. Want only me. Make me better, worth something." And so you've sent him away.
I see you two nights later, as well, all the color gone from your face. You watch him, want him to look, but he never does. His friend, though-his friend looks. He smiles, leans in, and whispers in the first boy's ear. For the first time, the boy you still want glances at you and looks away. Your stomach is in knots. It's all you want, for him to come to you. So when his friend does instead, you think, This is close enough.
You look back, twice, three times, at the boy you like as you go, but he still doesn't turn to see. This new boy, the friend, doesn't see you looking away, or he doesn't care. He pulls you by the hand. You can't remember his name, but you know it's too late to ask. He ducks into a laundry room. I see you, your blank expression, the way you acquiesce, the way you let him take off your underwear, do what he wants, the way you turn your head, waiting for it to be over. Your father is somewhere. Your mother is nowhere. I can almost hear your thoughts: It doesn't matter. It's just one more boy.
Afterward, you walk back to the beach house. I see you. I do. I see the way you let your hair fall over your face. You walk quickly, eyes on the ground. "I'm sorry," I want to tell you. "You're loved. You're worthwhile. You don't have to be anything for anyone else." But you wouldn't hear me, because you're there and I'm all the way over here. You'll have to keep walking, keep hurting, and someday you'll reach a point where you say, "Enough of this." You'll think it's possible that you deserve better. You'll turn to head down another road, also difficult, but worth it. A road you will question often, wondering, Is this really any better? Many times, you will change directions again. Many times, you will think, I'm not worth this. But then you'll realize again that you are. It will be a long, tiresome road, but eventually you'll come to know what I know. For now, I see you. For now, I think, If only someone else had seen you, too.

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