The contents of the essays, each preceded by a new introduction by the author, fleshes the outline out. The conclusions Orenstein draws are often unexpected, always brilliant. The confessions she extracts from her subjects are stunning ... Some essay collections are like some greatest hits albums: blatantly greedy attempts to re-sell what’s already been sold. Although Don’t Call Me Princess consists of previously published essays stitched together by current commentary, the book is more concentration than compilation — a satisfyingly succinct handbook of Orenstein’s incisive, witty and necessary observations.
While the women Orenstein spotlights — including graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner, scientist Elizabeth Blackburn, and the women behind Ms. Magazine — are indeed noteworthy and fascinating and Orenstein peppers her profiles with great insight, these haphazard pieces don’t feel like the best entree into Orenstein’s work, especially for readers who may be new to her oeuvre ... Also problematic: Orenstein features only one woman of color — the late Japanese writer and iconoclast Atsuko Chiba — in the seven profiles that comprise this section of the book ... Orenstein turns her focus to boys and young men’s attitudes toward sex and masculinity, the subject of Orenstein’s next book, a project that, like the author’s work on girls and women, will surely break more silences, shed more necessary light.
The power of her work comes from her incessant curiosity and her general unwillingness to provide a singular answer to life’s biggest questions. How should a white mother navigate parenting a child of color? Must parents disclose their decision to utilize an ovum donor to their child and extended family? Orenstein’s refusal to draw conclusions breaks down barriers between the different sides of an argument and invites those with opposing viewpoints to see eye to eye.'
Both conversational and fact-laden, Orenstein’s prose surprises, informs and at times jars with its frankness. She does not shrink from even the thorniest of subjects, her closing essays entitled 'When Did Porn Become Sex Ed?' and 'How to Be a Man in the Age of Trump.' One laudable aspect of her writing is the secure sense that she won't flinch from re-examining her own stated positions, learning from the times as they change.
Orenstein is at her best and most personal when she writes about breast cancer: she recounts her own diagnosis and its effect on her fertility, and reflects on the 'pink ribbon culture' and how increased attention on breast cancer and early screening may do more harm than good ... While Orenstein thoughtfully and incisively captures the perspectives of the people she writes about, those perspectives appear too similar to each other when presented in collected form; notably missing are lower-income women, black women, and trans women. Nonetheless, Orenstein is an enduring and important voice in the feminist choir, and the book will be welcomed by her longtime fans.