This is my story. Young women share that reading it offers inspiration for leading a healthy life. It's a little strange to have a memoir when I'm not super old yet, but this recounts a passage through one of the toughest times we face as young women. It is written from my heart to yours.
Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
The author of the New York Times bestseller Cinderella Ate My Daughter offers a clear-eyed picture of the new sexual landscape girls face in the post-princess stage—high school through college—and reveals how they are negotiating it.
A generation gap has emerged between parents and their girls. Even in this age of helicopter parenting, the mothers and fathers of tomorrow’s women have little idea what their daughters are up to sexually or how they feel about it. Drawing on in-depth interviews with over seventy young women and a wide range of psychologists, academics, and experts, renowned journalist Peggy Orenstein goes where most others fear to tread, pulling back the curtain on the hidden truths, hard lessons, and important possibilities of girls’ sex lives in the modern world.
While the media has focused—often to sensational effect—on the rise of casual sex and the prevalence of rape on campus, in Girls and Sex Peggy Orenstein brings much more to the table. She examines the ways in which porn and all its sexual myths have seeped into young people’s lives; what it means to be the “the perfect slut” and why many girls scorn virginity; the complicated terrain of hookup culture and the unfortunate realities surrounding assault. In Orenstein’s hands these issues are never reduced to simplistic “truths;” rather, her powerful reporting opens up a dialogue on a potent, often silent, subtext of American life today—giving readers comprehensive and in-depth information with which to understand, and navigate, this complicated new world.
Peggy is a catchy writer whose investigative journalism into the sex lives of millennials offers an incredible insight into the pressures facing young women. This is an important read for parents and young women alike. Of particular note is the Dutch study that highlights how in cultures where sex is openly discussed – both in terms of pleasure and risks – girls are less likely to wind up pregnant or with STI infections. Let's talk about it!
Furthermore, this book embodies why it's important to have gender-separated talks. Imagine 50% of girls being coerced into sexual encounters they did not want. Young women need a forum in which to gather and discuss these questions safely and amongst themselves.
Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV
Nearly every night on every major network, “unscripted” (but carefully crafted) “reality” TV shows routinely glorify retrograde stereotypes that most people would assume got left behind 35 years ago. In Reality Bites Back, media critic Jennifer L. Pozner aims a critical, analytical lens at a trend most people dismiss as harmless fluff. She deconstructs reality TV’s twisted fairytales to demonstrate that far from being simple “guilty pleasures,” these programs are actually guilty of fomenting gender-war ideology and significantly affecting the intellectual and political development of this generation’s young viewers. She lays out the cultural biases promoted by reality TV about gender, race, class, sexuality, and consumerism, and explores how those biases shape and reflect our cultural perceptions of who we are, what we’re valued for, and what we should view as “our place” in society. Smart and informative, Reality Bites Back arms readers with the tools they need to understand and challenge the stereotypes reality TV reinforces and, ultimately, to demand accountability from the corporations responsible for this contemporary cultural attack on three decades of feminist progress.
I am a big fan of Jennifer Pozner. I quote her in my talks and feel this book is a must-read for any adolescent young woman navigating the complex labyrinth of girl culture. Catchy, sassy, and a wealth of information about the socio-economic factors informing what we consume when we tune into guilty pleasure "reality" TV shows.
The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used Against Women
The bestselling classic that redefined our view of the relationship between beauty and female identity.
In today's world, women have more power, legal recognition, and professional success than ever before. Alongside the evident progress of the women's movement, however, writer and journalist Naomi Wolf is troubled by a different kind of social control, which, she argues, may prove just as restrictive as the traditional image of homemaker and wife. It's the beauty myth, an obsession with physical perfection that traps the modern woman in an endless spiral of hope, self-consciousness, and self-hatred as she tries to fulfill society's impossible definition of "the flawless beauty."
This was the book that inspired me to do the work I do today. I read it at 17 and continue to pull from its wisdom in my talks. This book is particularly valuable for girls struggling with disordered eating. The information on the socio-economic underpinnings of beauty norms sheds light on why we have an epidemic of body loathing and provides knowledge which builds resilience.