SOCIAL SCIENCES

Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity

Harper. Jan. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780062666970. $28.99. SOC SCI
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With Girls and Sex, Orenstein presented a powerful glimpse into the lives of teenage girls, with an adept mix of personal connection, theoretical acumen, and action-based advice. This new work begins with a similar promise: By interviewing young men and collecting data for two years, Orenstein developed insights into her subjects’ ideas of masculinity and how society can steer young men away from misogynistic patterns. Orenstein ably unpacks how boys are impacted when men in positions of authority allow for microaggressions and misconduct to persist. Throughout her research, the author built trusting relationships with interviewees of varied racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual identities. However, white, upper-middle-class men receive much of the attention, and issues of socioeconomic class are not touched on. Orenstein concludes with a call to action that requires first, redefining masculinity and second, individualized strategies for talking early and often to boys about sexuality, envisioning a new paradigm that seems impossibly out of reach yet also aspirational owing to many moving exchanges with her subjects.
VERDICT A thought-provoking read for all interested in gender studies.

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