Peggy Orenstein On Teen Sexuality And Hookup Culture

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When Peggy Orenstein realized her daughter was becoming a teenager, she began to panic.

She'd read the headlines we all do — of teen hookups, social media scandals, and sexts — and wasn't quite sure what her daughter was in for. What would it be like to hit puberty in the age of the Kardashians and Instagram?

So, as a mother who happened to be a journalist, she did what she does best: She began interviewing girls. She found daughters of friends, students of teachers and professors she knew — any girls that were willing to talk to her.

In total, she met with more than 70 young women between the ages of 15 and 20. Their stories, along with Orenstein's research became her new book, Girls And Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape.


Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape. Her previous book is Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches From The Frontlines. She tweets @PeggyOrenstein.


The Boston Globe: Does Social Media Increase Sexual Pressures On Teen Girls?

  • "Both Peggy Orenstein, in 'Girls & Sex,' and Nancy Jo Sales, in 'American Girls,' indict online porn, social media, binge drinking, and the so-called hookup culture to make the case that being a teenage girl is tougher than ever. It’s hard to disagree."

The New York Times: Advice On Boys And Sex, From The Author Of ‘Girls and Sex’

  • "First of all, I think we have to put it out there that porn is not real sex. It’s about as real as pro wrestling. Boys, especially, need to know how much it affects their perspective even if they don’t think it does. A lot of the entitlement and the idea that sex is something that girls do for boys is a porn thing. We don’t want to demonize a child for curiosity, but we do want them to know that it is not how people behave — and that TV sex isn’t real, either."

The New York Times Book Review: Sext And The Single Girl

  • "Be warned: Orenstein, a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and the mother of a preteen girl, begins her reporting worried by what she’s heard about “hookup culture” — and ends it even more freaked out. It’s not that girls are having so much sex (the percentage of high-schoolers who have had intercourse is actually dropping); even if they were, Orenstein’s careful to say she wouldn’t judge, really. But the acts the girls are engaging in, from oral sex to sexting, tend to be staged, she argues, more for boys’ enjoyment than their own."

NPR: 'Girls & Sex' And The Importance Of Talking To Young Women About Pleasure

  • "Kids are not having intercourse at a younger age, and they're not having more intercourse than they used to. They are engaging in other forms of sexual behavior, younger and more often. And one of the things that I became really clear on was that we have to broaden our definition of sex, because by ignoring and denying these other forms of sexual behavior that kids are engaging in, we are opening the door to a lot of risky behavior, and we are opening the door to a lot of disrespect."


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