“Girls & Sex should serve as a wake-up call to those who want to reframe the conversation around sex to ensure that young women and men can avoid negative sexual experiences and find 'caring, reciprocal, egalitarian relationships.'”
To really fix things, you’ll need bigger solutions, and it’s tempting to wish Orenstein would put down her reporter’s notebook to write a more focused sexual bill of rights that girls themselves, and not just their parents, can get behind. Girls & Sex is full of thoughtful concern and empathetic questions: What if girls learned that their sex drives mattered as much as boys’? What if hookups took place sober? What if? But Orenstein is uniquely positioned to do more than ask questions; you want her next book to tell us: Here’s how. Let’s go.
Importantly, Orenstein stresses that men must be held responsible for preventing sexual assault while women should be encouraged to master 'assertiveness and self-advocacy [as] crucial defensive skills.' ... Orenstein's tone can be slightly parental and smacking of middle-class respectability. Within the spectrum of 'sex-positivity' she leans more center-left than radical, and there's a subtle air of disapproval in how she discusses such topics as porn, hooking up and especially anal sex, which is always framed negatively.
The breadth of Orenstein’s reporting — the variety of experts she consulted, the number of parents she talked to, the science she drew on and of course the girls she interviewed — is impressive. Yet she doesn’t give a full sense of these young women; I wish there was more on what their partners, families and school lives were like. I also would have liked to see more on fathers. Fathers can play a critical role in building girls’ self-esteem and providing information about the way males think and behave. They also are important in helping boys relate to girls.
...compact, polished, and readable ... Orenstein laments the 'hypersexualization' of girls, the pressures to be at once physically perfect and powerful — and the role of social media in measuring and shaping 'friendship, self-image, and self-worth.'
...[Doesn't] entirely avoid the exaggerations, the simplifications, the whiff of manufactured crisis that we have come to associate with this genre ... To use sun-dappled recollections of life before the iPhone as a way of pointing up the misery of girls’ present conditions is a little misleading ... Orenstein offers a rather more nuanced and measured account of the way girls live now, but she too has a tendency to underestimate the heterogeneity of teenage culture and the multiplicity of ways in which girls engage with it ... Orenstein is most convincing when she addresses the passivity, the 'concern with pleasing, as opposed to pleasure,' that characterize her interview subjects’ approach to sex.
[Orenstein] illuminates the styles, voices, mannerisms, and interactions in a way that seems authentic ... I loved that Orenstein found such a diverse group of young women to talk to, from differing socioeconomic classes, geographic locations, education levels, and ethnicities ... Girls & Sex is for men and women, young and old, and should be a book on everyone’s shelf.