Intimacy has changed for all of us in recent years.
The transformation can be attributed to a variety of things: online and app dating, social media, the #MeToo movement and a reckoning with toxic masculinity.
And young people just embarking on their first relationships may be the most confused of us all.
Author Peggy Orenstein has been studying young women for more than 20 years. Her book, “Girls and Sex” was a candid look at the ways young women grapple with intimacy in a confusing era. Her latest book takes a look at the other side of that equation.
“Boys and Sex” is about young men, and the things Orenstein discovers about boys and the way they deal with sex and intimacy make for a revelatory experience.
Orenstein joins Detroit Today with Stephen Henderson to talk all things”Boys and Sex.”
Click on the player to hear Orenstein on consent, sexual racism, and the importance of open communication in sex and intimacy.
Orenstein talked with a multitude of young men for her newest book and was struck by their eagerness to share their experiences. She says many of the boys, who typically aren’t afforded the space to talk about their feelings, found the exercise cathartic.
Through these conversations, Orenstein found much of the language used by young people regarding sex was purposefully vague and nondescript.
“That word ‘hook-up’ is absolutely meaningless — its allows others to overestimate what you do and allows you to overestimate what your peers are doing,” say Orenstein. The conspicuousness of the phrase has led to a normalized view of casual sex, an outlook with unrealistic expectations, says the author.
Disconnection, Orenstein says, sums up the issues facing young peoples’ sexual development. She says while girls are disconnected from their bodies when it comes to issues of sex and intimacy, boys are disconnected from their hearts and vulnerability. The accessibility of pornography, lack of candid conversation from adults, and proliferation of social media have all contributed to this emotional disconnect among boys and young men. The author emphasizes the impact of pornography on the development of young men, stating that it has created a warped perception of what sex with a partner should be.
Orenstein says moving forward it is crucial to learn how to have nuanced conversations about consent and pathways to accountability, especially as the culture has radically shifted in the era of #MeToo.