Boys & Sex

Boys & Sex

Young Men on Hookups, Love, Porn, Consent, and Navigating the New Masculinity

Book - 2020 | First edition.
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Now in paperback--Peggy Orenstein, author of the groundbreaking New York Times bestseller Girls & Sex, turns her focus to the sexual lives of young men. "Eye-opening.... Every few pages, the boy world cracks open a little bit.... Even in the most anxiety-provoking moments of Boys & Sex, it's clear that Orenstein believes in the goodness of boys and the men they can become, and she believes in us, as parents, to raise them" (New York Times Book Review).

Peggy Orenstein's Girls & Sex broke ground, shattered taboos, and launched conversations about young women's right to pleasure and agency in sexual encounters. It also had an unexpected effect on its author: Orenstein realized that talking about girls is only half the conversation. Boys are subject to the same cultural forces as girls--steeped in the same distorted media images and binary stereotypes of female sexiness and toxic masculinity--which equally affect how they navigate sexual and emotional relationships. In Boys & Sex, Peggy Orenstein dives back into the lives of young people to once again give voice to the unspoken, revealing how young men understand and negotiate the new rules of physical and emotional intimacy.

Drawing on comprehensive interviews with young men, psychologists, academics, and experts in the field, Boys & Sex dissects so-called locker room talk; how the word "hilarious" robs boys of empathy; pornography as the new sex education; boys' understanding of hookup culture and consent; and their experience as both victims and perpetrators of sexual violence. By surfacing young men's experience in all its complexity, Orenstein is able to unravel the hidden truths, hard lessons, and important realities of young male sexuality in today's world. The result is a provocative and paradigm-shifting work that offers a much-needed vision of how boys can truly move forward as better men.

Publisher: New York, NY : Harper, [2020]
Edition: First edition.
Copyright Date: ©2020
ISBN: 9780062666970
Branch Call Number: 306.7083510973 Ore
Characteristics: viii, 292 pages
Alternative Title: Boys and sex


From the critics

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Aug 26, 2020

I think this is a book everyone should read, but especially parents of boys. Peggy Orenstein interviews a selection of high school and college age boys and young men and what they have to say is both shocking and profound. We do our young men a disservice by subscribing to and perpetrating the North American definition of "masculinity". By not making it acceptable for young men to express themselves and their feelings, we stunt their emotional growth. More than that, by not having honest, heart to heart discussions about relationships, we rob them of the opportunity to form meaningful relationships instead of resorting to "hook ups". We need to teach young men about respect for women and what consent really means. We need to break down toxic "jock culture", which many young men find repulsive but which they participate in because it's expected and it's "what guys do". Orenstein's interviews and the resultant revelations by the young men who confide in her definitely give the reader plenty to think about.

May 31, 2020

Every parent of boys and of girls should read this book. Orenstein is great talking about girls in her many previous books and brings her ability to talk to young people into full play here. I am astonished as to how open these young men were with her.

Mar 03, 2020

An interesting read and very thought provoking. Maybe I'm naive -- I'm a high school educator in a big suburban high school and I wonder if the "hookup culture" is as pervasive as described here. Also, many of the quotations she's included just don't sound like the kinds of young men I cross paths with -- so many of her interviewees are so thoughtful and articulate that I wonder if they're real. I found especially interesting the content dealing with boys and porn; I'm old enough to remember when it was hard to find much in the way of porn and of course now it's widely and freely available online, making it so much more a part of the adolescent experience. Well worth reading, and be aware that the author includes some explicit language in her quotes of the boys (she doesn't write "f*ck" but rather drops the F-bomb and other terms that some may find repellent).

Feb 21, 2020

I feel that the Boys and Sex book is very different than the Girls and Sex book in regards to the data collection methodology: interviews, conversations, and other qualitative communication. Although the author addresses that she felt the boys may not have been as candid as the girls were with her, she felt that some boys were merely confessional. The author served more like a good aunt or a confidant.

This book was necessary and timely. Peggy Orenstein brings up issues that are important but not altogether significant in comparison to the Girls and Sex book that precluded it. I specify that because the results of "toxic masculinity" seem to matter now, but the offenders are literally grandfathered in (because they are grandpas by their age), so they get away with it. The boys and young men she interviewed were not all the same. I like how she elucidates this fact, sensitively. It is balanced for the boys, not the girls. However, this is necessary to show that there are kind-hearted men that are not savages who prey on females or other males.

Nevertheless, this book was cringeworthy, as the content would be for most fair people.

Feb 01, 2020

In this lucid, entertaining book, Orenstein fills page after page describing 'bro culture,' W's and L's, 'weaponized' language, and more. In person, she comes across as intelligent and with a fine sense of humor. She certainly deserves credit for calling in the fire, as it were, but she has no plan for putting it out except for pious platitudes like "We have to purposefully and repeatedly broaden the masculine repertoire of dealing with disappointment, anger, desire." Translation: "We have to fix boys." (sigh) Sorry, but the real fault lies in society's - i.e. our - contradictory and impossible demands.

Why is the "New" masculinity, so much like the "Old"? To quote the book,"... it's a mistake to underestimate the strength and durability of the cultural machinery at work on adolescent boys." So true…

Who gains from men sacrificing themselves as soldiers, police, fireman and rescue workers? From men taking on the dangerous jobs of farmer, fisherman, construction worker and sports entertainer? From men as full- and over-time workers unable to spend time with their families? From men taking responsibility for sex?

And on top of all that, now the added demand that men be 'in touch with their feelings' and 'emotionally available.'

Yet even if men do all that, they still get no credit. If society has a problem, it's their fault. "Never hold women accountable."

Boys approaching manhood understand: "Women get options, men get obligations."

So here's a better plan: Stop blaming boys. Stop making boys accountable for solving society's problems. Give boys options - real options, not the phony ones Orenstein holds out to them. Our boys will be better off and so will society.

Jan 10, 2020

I heard the author interviewed on CBC's The Current today (January 10th) and can hardly wait to read this informative and provocative book on male sexuality.

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