Girls & Sex
"Well, what parent wouldn't freak out? Children were having
indiscriminate sex (or indiscriminate not-sex) everywhere! Under the
table at bar mitzvahs! Behind the monkey bars during recess!..."
Back when I was starting out with my book review blog, 2011 for
anyone keeping track, I read and reviewed Peggy Orenstein's very
insightful Cinderella Ate My Daughter. I feel now, as I felt then,
that it is a must read for parents of girls. Needless to say I was
delighted to the point of doing my library happy dance when I
discovered on one of the Orono Public Library new book shelves
Orenstein's latest: Girls & Sex: Navigating The Complicated New
Landscape. It takes up where Cinderella left off, focussing on high
school and college students.
The media, in the less than fine if it bleeds it leads--
sensational sells tradition, periodically uncovers and delivers the
scandelous and frightening. For legions of middle school girls oral
sex has become the new spin the bottle. Porn and promiscuity are
rampant on high school campuses; hook ups and rape on the college
scene. No matter how well you parent you and your daughter are
Orenstein's message is that matters are a lot more complex and
nuanced than the news media (and the simplistic solution books) would
have you believe. Her research involved lengthy, extensive interviews
with over seventy girls between fifteen and twenty and consultations
with professionals in the field. Aspects of the dominant culture that
influence objectification of girls and women enter into the picture.
The chapter called Blurred Lines, Take Two focuses on rape.
What specifically constitutes rape? Can lack of protest count as
consent? What if a woman is too drunk or incapacitated to give
consent? Does consent for one act count as agreement to going
further? How do societal factors pressing girls to be nice and polite
impede them from asserting their right to not be sexually exploited?
The background information is skilfully interwoven with a high school
student's really heart breaking story.
Girls & Sex is, in my mind, a must read for parents of girls and
boys, high school teachers and guidance counselors, college professors
and their colleagues in residence life and student development, and
members of the press.
On a personal note, recently I was invited to read one of my poems at
a UMaine reception for young African leaders. After the entertainment
which was music and my poem, we all took food and sat down to eat.
The food was good and spicy. After awhile I got up to get more
juice. A couple of African women were asking my friend Favour who was
a great dancer. She said I'm a great dancer. I started dancing. It
seemed like people were waiting for someone to get that going because
in very short order they all had joined me. They had gone from
pleasantly conversing to having the time of their lives. Don't think
I wasn't proud!
A great big shout out goes out to our visiting Africans who are great
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