Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

4.1 8
by Peggy Orenstein
     
 

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The author of the New York Times bestseller Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a clear-eyed picture of the new sexual landscape girls face in the post-princess stage—high school through college—and reveals how they are negotiating it.

A generation gap has emerged between parents and their girls. Even in this age of helicopter parenting,

Overview

The author of the New York Times bestseller Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a clear-eyed picture of the new sexual landscape girls face in the post-princess stage—high school through college—and reveals how they are negotiating it.

A generation gap has emerged between parents and their girls. Even in this age of helicopter parenting, the mothers and fathers of tomorrow’s women have little idea what their daughters are up to sexually or how they feel about it. Drawing on in-depth interviews with over seventy young women and a wide range of psychologists, academics, and experts, renowned journalist Peggy Orenstein goes where most others fear to tread, pulling back the curtain on the hidden truths, hard lessons, and important possibilities of girls’ sex lives in the modern world.

While the media has focused—often to sensational effect—on the rise of casual sex and the prevalence of rape on campus, in Girls and Sex Peggy Orenstein brings much more to the table. She examines the ways in which porn and all its sexual myths have seeped into young people’s lives; what it means to be the “the perfect slut” and why many girls scorn virginity; the complicated terrain of hookup culture and the unfortunate realities surrounding assault. In Orenstein’s hands these issues are never reduced to simplistic “truths;” rather, her powerful reporting opens up a dialogue on a potent, often silent, subtext of American life today—giving readers comprehensive and in-depth information with which to understand, and navigate, this complicated new world.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Cindi Leive
…thought-provoking…The interesting question at the heart of Girls and Sex is not really whether things are better or worse for girls. It's why—at a time when women graduate from college at higher rates than men and are closing the wage gap—aren't young women more satisfied with their most intimate relationships? "When so much has changed for girls in the public realm," Orenstein writes, "why hasn't more…changed in the private one?"
Publishers Weekly
★ 11/23/2015
Bestselling journalist Orenstein follows up Cinderella Ate My Daughter with a look at what happens when the little princess hits puberty. The result is an eye-opening, sometimes horrifying look at sex for today’s girls and young adults. Through frank interviews, research, and school visits, Orenstein reveals that, on average, young women are engaging in sexual contact earlier than ever, in more varied ways, and reporting more coercion and less satisfaction than their male counterparts. She cuts through many of the prickly topics associated with girls’ sexuality in contemporary culture, including purity debates, hook-up culture, arguments about what girls wear, rape and consent on college campuses, the problem of porn, and what kind of sex education actually works. She looks briefly at gender fluidity and touches on the concerns of LGBTQ young women. Orenstein draws powerful, humane portraits of her interview subjects, self-reliant young women who find themselves trapped by sexist stereotypes about women’s bodies and women’s pleasure. In this smart, earnest, and timely assessment, Orenstein urges frank, open communication among trusted adults and curious teens, declaring it the best way to encourage girls and boys to make safe, healthy decisions that “end in joy and honor rather than regret, guilt, or shame” and achieve “intimate justice.” (Mar.)
Minneapolis Star Tribune on Cinderella Ate My Daughter
“A feminist critique in the guise of a chat with a friend, Orenstein’s book inspires parents to rethink girlie-girl culture. . . . Cinderella Ate My Daughter is entertaining as well as useful, not only for parents of daughters.”
New York Times Book Review on Cinderella Ate My Daughter
“[Orenstein] has done parents the great favor of having this important debate with herself on paper and in public; she has fashioned an argument with its seams showing and its pockets turned inside out, and this makes her book far more interesting, and more useful.”
Salon
“I’m not going to tell you to go right now and buy a copy…. I’m going to tell you to buy two copies: One for yourself, and one for the teenager in your life…. Refuses to be judgmental or doom and gloom. Instead, it offers something else — a demand for education, enlightenment, and ultimately, the radical notion of equal satisfaction.”
four stars People
“Orenstein is such a breezy, funny, writer, it’s easy to forget she’s an important thinker too.”
Rosalind Wiseman
“With compassion and insight, Peggy Orenstein holds a mirror not only to girls’ experiences but to our own judgments. No less than the emotional health and physical safety of our daughters (and of our sons, by the way) depends on the kind of insight Girls & Sex provides.”
Library Journal
12/01/2015
A keen observer of girlhood cultures, Orenstein (Cinderella Ate My Daughter) turns her analytic eye on the experiences of girls and young women growing into sexual adulthood at the dawn of the 21st century. Weaving the stories of young adult interviewees (the majority of whom are college-bound or college students, white, cisgender, and heterosexual) with the voices of scholars and political activists, the author charts the contemporary landscape within which middle-class American girls explore their sexual selves. From social media to school dress codes, and from rape culture to campus hook-ups, the meaning of virginity and the state of sexuality education today, much of what Orenstein distills will be familiar to readers well versed in these subjects. However, her accessible prose and narrative style will bring the work of many thoughtful experts to a wider audience, and the selected bibliography encourages further study. While this book largely documents our systemic failure to support young women's sexual thriving, the final chapters point toward potential solutions, including an important reminder that men and boys must be included in any successful intervention. VERDICT Young adults, parents, educators, and activists alike will find this passionate work a timely conversation starter. [See Prepub Alert, 9/28/15.]—Anna J. Clutterbuck-Cook, Massachusetts Historical Soc. Lib., Boston
Kirkus Reviews
2015-12-20
An examination of the newest trends in the sex lives of young women in America. After interviewing dozens of young women between the ages of 15 and 20, as well as educators, sociologists, psychologists, and other experts, New York Times Magazine contributing writer Orenstein (Cinderella Ate My Daughter, 2011, etc.) has compiled an eye-opening study of the way that girls and women in America think, feel, and act regarding sex. With a daughter of her own soon entering this new phase of her life, the author sought to understand the current culture, "at a time when celebrities presented self-objectification as a source of strength, power, independence; when looking desirable seemed a substitute for feeling desire; when 50 Shades of Grey…was being hailed as the ultimate feminine fantasy; when no woman under the age of forty appeared to have pubic hair." What she discovered was both intriguing and highly disturbing. With interviews that lasted for hours, the girls discussed the fine line they walk between dressing to look "hot" and then being called a slut if they engage in too many sexual acts. They were frank about the often unspoken expectations of boys to receive fellatio with no sense of reciprocity and how the act has become so common that most girls don't even consider it sex. Ready access to pornography via the Internet has raised boys' expectations of how girls will react when engaged in intercourse. The girls speak explicitly and honestly about their hookups and the pressures they feel during these casual encounters and the disturbing number of drunken "date rape" incidents. Orenstein also delves into the sexual subculture surrounding fraternities and sororities, which continues the ongoing discussion regarding consent and the meanings of "yes" and "no." Though the author doesn't offer many solutions, the abundant information she provides will give parents and young girls the power to make informed decisions regarding sex. Ample, valuable information on the way young women in America perceive and react to their sexual environment.
Caitlin Moran
“If you’re going to talk about women in the 21st century, you MUST read Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sex. No one else is asking these questions; so no one else, then, is finding out the answers.”
Sheryl Sandberg
“Peggy Orenstein sheds light on an important and too often misunderstood topic. Her reporting shows how a healthy and direct approach to sexuality is a key component of gender equality.”
Rashida Jones
Girls & Sex should be mandatory for anyone who cares about the present and future cultural landscape for girls, women, humans. I seriously want to quit my job and tour the country, furiously hawking Peggy Orenstein’s insightful, important book.”
Adrian Liang
“I’m not going to tell you to go right now and buy a copy…. I’m going to tell you to buy two copies: One for yourself, and one for the teenager in your life…. Refuses to be judgmental or doom and gloom. Instead, it offers something else — a demand for education, enlightenment, and ultimately, the radical notion of equal satisfaction.”
Elle
“An intimate view of the sex lives of young women in the United States. While revealing disturbing common threads… Orenstein brings levity to this fraught topic.”
Audrey Bilger
“A wake-up call.”
Isaac Chotiner
“Deeply reported, passionately argued.”
Aimee Blanchette
“An enlightening, sad and shocking look into the minds of teenagers and their views on casual sex, love and relationships.”
Laura Stepp
“Provocative and thoughtful.... Both an examination of sexual culture and a guide on how to improve it.... The breadth of Orenstein’s reporting ... is impressive.”
Tamara Straus
“’Girls & Sex’ may do more to change how sex education is rethought and how parents and daughters discuss pleasure and sexuality than any book since the landmark ‘Our Bodies, Ourselves.’”
Booklist
“Sex and teenagers have always gone together, but parents reading Orenstein’s frank exploration of current trends may still be in for a shock…. This isn’t a comfortable book to read (Orenstein herself admits twinges a few times), but it’s an important one.”
Cindi Leive
“Thought-provoking. . .Girls & Sex is full of thoughtful concern and empathetic questions.”
Rebecca Traister
“A nuanced read for anyone who remembers being a young woman and anyone who is raising the next generation of girls (and boys) for whom we hope the future holds sexual satisfaction, not pain or disappointment.”
Book of the Week People
“Nonsensational but deeply entertaining…. A must-read.”
Economist
“Fascinating…. A wise and sharply argued look at how girls are navigating ‘the complicated new landscape’ of sex and sexuality.”
Ann Levin
“A smart, sobering guide to the sexual lives of young women today.”
Mary Elizabeth Williams
“I’m not going to tell you to go right now and buy a copy…. I’m going to tell you to buy two copies: One for yourself, and one for the teenager in your life…. Refuses to be judgmental or doom and gloom. Instead, it offers something else — a demand for education, enlightenment, and ultimately, the radical notion of equal satisfaction.”
Sharon Holbrook
“[An] important new book.... Her writing is clear and compelling, her analysis is incisive and thorough, and her findings are downright troubling.”
Julia M. Klein
“Eloquent…. [A] compact, polished, and readable… cris de coeur.”
Oliver Wang
“A sequel of sorts to Orenstein’s ‘Cinderella Ate My Daughter’…. Sketches a sobering portrait.”

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062209726
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/29/2016
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
11,728
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

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Meet the Author

Peggy Orenstein is the author of the New York Times bestseller Waiting for Daisy: A Tale of Two Continents, Three Religions, Five Infertility Doctors, an Oscar, an Atomic Bomb, a Romantic Night, and One Woman's Quest to Become a Mother and Schoolgirls: Young Women, Self-Esteem, and the Confidence Gap. A contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine, she has been published in, among others, USA Today; Vogue; Parenting; O, The Oprah Magazine; Salon; and The New Yorker. Orenstein lives in Northern California with her husband and their daughter, Daisy.

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Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous 3 months ago
Want to have sex?
Chancie 9 months ago
Very little of it feels research based, and it's all based on interviews that feel like they weren't chosen to represent the whole. It feels like a select type of teenage girl rather than all teen girls in general. The writing feels horribly sloppy; I found myself constantly bored or confused, despite an interest in the subject. It's written in a way that's meant to be open minded and sex positive, but it doesn't come off that way. It comes across as critical, judgmental, and as though it winces a little at the idea of teen girls having sex or about sex in general. It's important information, but it felt like it could've been handled better. I wasn't a fan.
Anonymous 11 months ago
I DO NOT LIVE IN MASSACHUSETTS
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Me
Anonymous 11 months ago
Massachusetts. U?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Defr res 1!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi