Girls & Sex, Review

Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein

4 stars out of 5

Peggy Orenstein is a journalist, and as such she seeks to not only tell a story, but also tell the reader why the story is important. She is not an academic, a researcher, or a scientist. This is important to bear in mind as you read this book. Orenstein is telling a story and she backs up her findings with both data and anecdote. She uses good journalism to get to the heart of the issue and talk to the people who are affected, and that is really the strength of this book.

Orenstein carefully guides the reader through the stories of various people that all have the common thread of the sexual lives of young adult women in high school and college. She talks about why they decide to become sexually active and how ideas about virginity and “sluttyness” shape how girls and women think about sexuality. She talks about American sexual culture and how media representations shape our ideas without us even really noticing. Orenstein is thorough and reasonable in her approach and her assessments. Anyone at all would benefit from reading this book which, at the very least, acts as a thought-provoking conversation starter.

I do wish, however, that Orenstein might have cast a bot of a wider net when conducting her interviews. After a few chapters it seems like the story is the same for the rest of the book: middle-class white girls and the college party/hook-up scene. She didn’t really touch on experiences outside of that rather narrow focus. As far as what she did cover, she did an excellent job. I look forward to reading more from Peggy Orenstein.

I listened to this book as an audiobook and it was read by the author. I much enjoyed hearing the author’s own voice putting inflection and emphasis on her own words. It all worked together seamlessly and I rather enjoyed the listen.


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