Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape

Harper. Mar. 2016. 320p. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9780062209726. $26.99; ebk. ISBN 9780062209733. SOC SCI
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.]
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