NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
A Time Top 10 Book of the Year • A San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year
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.
An Amazon Best Book of April 2016: It would be easy to pigeonhole Girls & Sex as essential reading only for parents of female teens or preteens. But as I traveled deeper into Orenstein’s honest and thoughtful exploration of “the complicated new landscape” of sex as seen from the points of view of seventy high school and college-age girls she interviewed, I realized this book is for anyone who cares for a girl approaching womanhood, whether she is a daughter, niece, granddaughter, or friend of the family. Orenstein is the perfect guide, empathetic with the girls she interviews while also calling out how views on being “hot,” consensual sex, drinking, and the very definition of virginity and intercourse has changed in the past ten or twenty years. She’s so direct, the reader can’t help but face how dramatically the landscape has shifted. (I admit to being horrified at the latest definition of “second base.” But better to be wide-eyed than blind.) It’s a tribute to Orenstein’s perceptive investigations and her ability to make you question your own long-held beliefs about young people and sex that as I turned the last page, I felt an intense desire to read a Boys & Sex edition so that our young men could be given the clear voice that Orenstein has given young women. —Adrian Liang