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

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

by Kerry Cohen

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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

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402260704
Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
Publication date: 09/01/2011
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 256
File size: 962 KB

About 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 husband and two sons in Portland, Oregon.

Read an Excerpt


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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Dirty Little Secrets: Breaking the Silence on Teenage Girls and Promiscuity 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Oreillynsf on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was pleased to get this book from the Early Reviewers program, and found it interesting. The author clearly has passion for the topic, and this is clearly an important social issue for society to consider. I enjoyed the book, though I found it a little disjointed in places, but would recommend it for a parent or a girl confronting societal challenges in daily life. I am grateful for the author's insight.
Jadesbooks on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm going to start by saying I loved Kerry Cohen's Loose Girl, and was really excited to read this book. I've been trying to read it for months now, and I feel like I'm back in college reading a text book. The information is so cut and dry, and there is just so much on a single page, that I found myself having to reread the page just to make sure I understood what was written. I guess I expected this to be in a more informative format and not in a textbook format. If someone is doing a research project on promiscuity in teens, this would be a great reference guide. I wish I had a better review.
bobbieharv on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved Cohen's first book, "Loose Girls," and was very happy to be selected to receive her second. Unfortunately, I was quite disappointed. The writing was journalese; the book was packed with unanalyzed and sometimes rather confusing statistics. For example, I was put off almost immediately by the following, on page xxiv of the Introduction:"According to the Guttmacher Institute, although teenage sexual activity has declined 16 percent in the past fifteen years, almost half (46 percent) of all 15- to 19-year-olds have had sex at least once, and 27 percent of 13- to 16-year-olds are sexually active. The larger proportion of these teenagers [which teenagers? the older ones? the younger ones? all of them?] are black (67.3 percent) and Hispanic (51.4 percent) than white (41.8 percent)."So of the teenagers who are having sex (whichever group she may be referring to), their racial demographics add up to 160.5 percent. I can't even begin to make sense of this.I did manage to make it through the whole book, trying to ignore the superficial statistic-dropping, but found the writing laborious, like a hastily-written college term paper. "
sarradee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The description of this book makes it sound much more interesting than it actually is, instead of anecdotes and stories the book is mostly filled with facts and figures. Much of the material is repetitive and the book doesn't really add much to the subject that was covered in the author's memoir "Loose Girls". The subject matter is important, and the author writes well, but this book just doesn't captivate.
kristinmm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm not familiar with the author's memoir but I thought this was an interesting read. Exploring the reasoning behind why so many girls have a hard time with their sexuality as teenagers (and beyond) helps to come up with ways of taking action to help them through it. I found Part One: The Loose Girl to be a bit repetitive at times, although it does explain the problem well. I found Part Two: Gaining Power to be much more useful in terms of getting something accomplished. The resources are also quite good.
joyfiction on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book a thoroughly enjoyable, informative read. It gave some very interesting information and showed a very dark side to being a young girl that people don't talk about too often- the way women are judged if they express their sexuality, how some girls use sex to find love, to find happiness. It's a sad, dangerous practice that happens all too often. Women are put into categories based on their sexual exploits or lack there of but women, as all people, are multi-dimensional which this book points out as well. I would definitely recommend mothers of young girls read this. Or people who work with young girls.
adamps on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book did absolutely nothing for me. Read about five pages and was done. Was hoping it would be a useful resource for the counselor at my school, but was at all applicable or useful. It was an early reviewers miss in my opinion.
lfoster82 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I recieved this book from the Early Reviewers Club. I expected this book to read more like a story, or short vignettes of real life stories. While there were some stories, the book mostly contained facts and figures and references. This made the book difficult for me to get through. For someone who is more interested in knowing why rather than what happened, this book would be a fit. I myself would rather read stories that illustrate the facts and figures, rather then fact and figures themselves. It's just a matter of personal preference. I also agree with the reviewer who said the book read like a term paper. That pretty much sums it up to a tee.
fanoftheoffice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a fan of Cohen's memoir, Loose Girl, so I thought I'd love this book. Same author, same subject. Unfortunately, I really could not get into this one. Since her memoir came out, she has interviewed many other so-called "loose girls," that is, girls who were or are promiscuous. In each chapter, she includes short blurbs from her interviews interspersed with her own insights as to why these girls think and act as they do. She has the credentials to back this up, she is a degreed therapist of some kind now. However, I really didn't find much that was revelatory in these insights. There was nothing unique or different about this book that would distinguish it from the dozens of other books on this subject.
momofzandc2003 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I found this book to be a very interesting and fact filled book. I was expecting something like Loose Girl, but this book did not read like that at all. However, I do think this is a must read for any parent with a teenage daughter.
princesspeaches on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dirty Little Secrets discusses reasons why teenage girls are promiscuous and how this affects them throughout their lives. Using case studies (admittedly unscientific) the author draws connections from the behaviors of teenage "loose girls" to their upbringing, relationships with their parents, messages from the media and social mores, among other things. Generally they all suffer from low self esteem in some way and often using the sexual encounters to bolter their self value--even if only for a short time. The author, a self named loose girl, clearly feels a connection to this phenomena and sends the message that although the girls often times make bad decisions they are often victims and need to realize that at any time they can choose to live a different way. Her many pop culture references bring home to the reader the many bad media examples there are for young ladies but however often date the book to the reader's adolescence. I found her work to be well cited and very readable. A great book for any mother of a young girl.
readaholic12 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Dirty Little Secrets, from Loose Girl author Kerry Cohen, attempts to define the causes and effects of destructive loose girl tendencies and offers strategies for girls to regain control over promiscuity and the desperate quest for male attention and validation. This book provides an important voice in the conversation about teen sexuality and its complex relationship to self esteem and emotional fulfilment, though it comes across as more anectodal than scientific, and could benefit from more extensive research. The author points to media bombardment of sexual imagery and the blurring of the lines between sex and romance as cultural causes of promiscuity. The message girls receive is that their worth is dependent on attractiveness to and attention from males. Many of her subject interviews reveal the aching lonliness and need that often drive promiscuity, and the fact that few, if any, promiscious girls find what they are looking for through this self perpetuating behavior. The second half of the book attempts to provide healing, promoting education, self love and recognition of addictive tendencies, and provides a useful list of resources in the appendix.There were some aspects to the book I found lacking, particularly an inclusion of more data beyond the interviews. I found the chapter Saying Yes, Saying No an inadequate discussion of rape, as I know several young rape victims who became loose girls, perhaps to reclaim their sexuality, or perhaps to continue their degradation, and was hoping for insight beyond what little was given. Most importantly, also lacking was any discussion of the responsibility of educating males who help perpetuate the promiscuity, often in predatory or cruel ways. As responsible as parents are for paying attention to and caring for our daughters, we are equally responsible for watching and educating our sons to treat women with common decency and respect.While I found this book to be reasonably well written about a very important topic, I found it wanting, and wondered if it might have been written more to capitalize on the popularity of the first book rather than to say something new or relevent. I have not read the previous work by this author, which might have aided me in reviewing this one. In summary, this book a good start toward raising awareness, but it could use more data, more statistics, more research into the topic and a more well rounded assessment of the responsibility of both males and females.
saffie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The book covered most or all of the issues that girls can go through while growing up. Unfortunately i think that each topic could have been expanded on better. The idea of the book is a great idea but i didn't feel it was as well executed as it could have been. I am going to be a parent soon and i did take valuable information from the book, it just took me awhile to get through it, and usually i love these type books. Overall, I would probably recommend the book to people.
kissmeimgone on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was excited after reading Loose Girl to learn that Kerry Cohen had written another book. With Dirty Little Secrets, Kerry Cohen tells the story of acclaimed 'loose girls' along with looking at from a cognitive standpoint on why loose girls might act out the way they do to fill that void that they do. Once I picked up this book I found it hard to put down, just like her other book Loose Girl. I defintley recommend this book to teenage girls and women alike.
lindseyrivers on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
(FYI: Loose Girl is the title of Kerry Cohen's first book and describes girls who are "obsessed with getting love,with using male attention to make [themselves] worthwhile in this world. This may or may not go hand in hand with promiscuity) I am a grown up loose girl. There. I said it and it is now out in cyberspace for the good or bad. I read Cohen's first book several years ago, while trying to figure some things out about myself. The fact that I won her second book in the LibraryThing Early Reviewers giveaway was nothing short of fate. I needed this book. And SO DO YOU. Even if you don't consider yourself a loose girl (or are male), chances are you know someone who is. And if you EVER intend or end up being the parent of a girl, you absolutely have to read this book. It addresses the issues that all (and I do mean all) adolescent females go through regarding love, sex, and relationships and what happens when those issues become true problems. It also gives practical solutions to how to deal with or help divert some of these issues. Ms. Cohen, thank you for sharing your story and thank you for this book. It just may have saved me, although there is still some work for me to do.
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