Boys and Sex: Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity by Peggy Orenstein

7. All Guys Want It. Don’t They?

  • The stereotype for men is that they always want sex and will take it whenever available. The reality is that many boys are sexually assaulted by peers, older women, and adult men. These assaults often result in mental health issues just like they do for girls. Boys are much less likely to report assaults for fear of not appearing manly. Rejecting advances is seen as awkward, unmanly, or gay. One-fourth of boys admit to faking orgasm to put a premature end to the experience. As many as one in six boys will be sexually abused or assaulted before turning eighteen. It’s also hard for women to understand the idea of getting consent from men. Assaults by girls on boys are very unlikely to result in expulsion from school or jail time unlike assaults by boys on girls.

8. A Better Man

  • How do we get boys to be better men who see girls as full human beings? How do we change our cultures so that sexual conquest is not the measure of the man? The goal is to have boys take accountability for their actions and Peggy finds that Restorative Practice one way to do it. It results in students being more likely to admit responsibility for the harm they have done. Boys can help their friends by asking questions like “do you think she enjoyed herself” and “did you ask her” when friends brag about having sex.

9. Deep Breath: Talking to Boys

  • It’s clear that young people need better education when it comes to sex, but it doesn’t look like we can rely on state or local governments to do much about it. Only half of the states require any sex ed and only ten require it to be medically accurate. Abstinence-only education is still commonplace. Only ten states require that consent be part of the program. Without parent intervention, the default educator will be the media. Discomfort and embarrassment are not excuses to opt-out of parenting and teenagers constantly say they want information from their parents.
  • The rest of the chapter gives help to get started. Don’t think you need to have just one talk. Talks should be ongoing and can be initiated by media reports. Failure to get consent at each step is risky and can lead to expulsion from school or worse. Good sex is pleasurable and mutually satisfying. Be sure to talk about other sexualities besides straight boy/girl sex. Look for negative examples in the media including song lyrics to stimulate discussions. Talk about porn. I have a chapter in my book about it. Watch out for all-male groups at school. If you think you want to join a frat do your homework. Try to involve coaches in having mentoring conversations with their teams. Raising boys to see girls as true peers is vital, and it’s something all parents must address. Check out Peggy’s Blog for more resources.

Peggy Orenstein

  • Peggy is the New York Times bestselling author of Girls and Sex, (see my summary here) Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Waiting for Daisy, Flux, and Schoolgirls. She is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. She has been published in USA Today, Parenting, Salon, The New Yorker, The Atlantic and other publications. Her TED Talk has about four million views. She lives in Northern California with her husband and daughter. Follow her on Twitter @peggyorenstein.
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