Girls and S*x: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein

4. Hookups and Hang-Ups

  • Hookups here are defined as casual sex although they don’t necessarily result in intercourse. From the girls’ point of view, they can vary from liberating to being victimized. They can be one-time, repeated, or exclusive but the goal is no strings or emotional commitments. One survey indicates that 72% of college students hook up with an average of seven partners. One third included intercourse while another third included oral sex. Hookup apps like Tinder promote this activity. Most students prefer a date to a hookup and almost 80% would prefer a loving relationship.
  • Girls are less likely to have an orgasm (17%) or receive oral sex. They are also likely to fake orgasms (70%) because they are bored, tired, in pain, or to protect their partner’s ego. They are also not likely to tell the boys what feels good and what doesn’t. Trying to find a husband in college is an anachronism. Since sorority houses are voluntarily dry, the action tends to focus on fraternity parties. Hookups aren’t just lubricated by drinking, they are dependent on it. Binge drinking is common (66% women, 80% men). Girls often say that hooking up sober would be awkward, uncomfortable or weird.
  • The campus party scene also facilitates rape. Victims have a hard time convincing anyone, including themselves, that a crime has been committed. They often blame themselves rather than the boy who took advantage. It’s estimated that only 20% of college victims report the crime and a low rate of assailants are punished. Remorse is common among men and women and men don’t tend to respect women who engage in casual sex.

5. Out: Online and IRL

  • If the picture painted thus far makes it seem like growing up as a girl is difficult, growing up as a gay girl is a lot worse. Gays of both sexes face an additional set of stresses that can lead to depression or even suicide. While some parents are accepting and supportive, others aren’t. The same is true for siblings. Family acceptance is by far the biggest potential problem. Some schools have fewer homophobes than others, but all have some. Online they experience cyberbullying three times as often, girls more often than boys. Gays, however, can turn to the Internet for support as they find others like themselves. They can also run into a trove of misinformation, distortion, dis-expertise, and bad advice. Many are out only on the Internet. The age of coming out has dropped from 25 in 1991 to 15 today.
  • Same sex attraction has also increased to about one third for straight girls. Sex between girls is more likely to be satisfying and unlike passive sex with a boy, they can’t both be passive. Girls who watch Internet porn can think that the average size of a limp penis is eight inches. They can come away thinking that they never want to be near one. Fanfiction can also provide a form of freedom for young women.
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One Response to “Girls and S*x: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape by Peggy Orenstein”

  1. Suzanne Witzenburg says:

    Doug, a very thorough review of an interesting and important book. As a former sexuality educator/ trainer
    I find it discouraging that so little has changed in the 25 years since I began talking to teens , parents and professionals about sexuality. In 2001, I went on a European Study Tour with Advocates for Youth to The Netherlands , Germany and France. All three countries had integrated sex Ed into their school curriculum and had a science-based approach to sexuality education. I’m afraid that in the U.S., we are still conflicted by our Puritanical heritage, hence the double messages so many young people receive.

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