How can sex be better for young women? More pleasurable and less dangerous, actually empowering rather than a way to validate self-worth, less fraught with pressure, and frankly, more fun? That’s the investigation undertaken by Peggy Orenstein in her new book released today, aptly titled Girls & Sex. Though it doesn’t claim to have all the answers, Orenstein’s exploration, for which she interviewed more than 70 young American women, raises many insightful and important questions — even if they might make most teenagers bolt from the room.
Author of several bestselling books on different aspects of girlhood, including Cinderella Ate My Daughter (about girlie-girl culture) and Schoolgirls (about the confidence gap), Orenstein is a mother herself, and approaches the topic of sex among teen girls as a curious, concerned, and, yes, “cool” mom. While a certain amount of handwringing is to be expected from any mom, regardless of her generation, Orenstein approaches her subjects on their own terms, and comes away from their conversations with valuable intel from the front lines of teenage sex.
From the consequences of selfie culture to the tyranny of virginity, here are the seven most crucial takeaways Orenstein serves up about girls and sex.