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

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  507 ratings  ·  104 reviews

The author of the groundbreaking New York Times bestsellers Girls & Sex and Cinderella Ate My Daughter now turns her focus to the sexual lives of young men, once again offering “both an examination of sexual culture and a guide on how to improve it” (Washington Post).

Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & Sexbroke ground, shattered taboos, and launched
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Harper
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Average rating 4.30  · 
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 ·  507 ratings  ·  104 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, feminism, 2020
"That's the problem," Rob said. "None of my friends talk about feelings. If you were hung up over a girl, they'd be like, 'Stop being a bitch.'"

Very, very interesting book.

I liked Boys & Sex quite a lot more than Girls & Sex, though why is a bit harder to decipher. It might be that I knew what to expect from this one— lots of anecdotes from a small(ish) sample; not really a social study with a definitive conclusion. It might be that the sample size was larger and stretched to trans
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having read Orenstein's "Girls & Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape", two things came immediately to mind about her latest venture, 1) she made sure to be a lot more inclusive in her selection of interviewees, and 2) she pulled together a lot more resources.

While "Girls & Sex" was certainly a good place to start, Orenstein fell short in allowing the research to speak for itself; there was often too much of an injection of her own thoughts and opinions on the subject of how we
Jan 11, 2020 rated it liked it
This is not my favorite style of covering topics: lots of interviews, no analysis or research. But I knew what it was because I read the girls one. I learned a lot—mostly because I wasn’t close with any teenage boys (no brothers or best friends who talked about this stuff) so these revelations were nuts. And If I had boys (thank God I don’t))), the one thing I would definitely ban is porn.
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
For my entire life I've heard, "boys are easier to raise." This book shows, through interviews with college age men, boys are not easier to parent than girls, most people just aren't parenting them. Many of your sons are engaging in a culture of homophobia, misogyny, and assault, all of which they're almost never held accountable for by their peers, parents, law enforcement, and even the author of this book at times.
I personally hated reading this book for several reasons. Mainly, because,
Books on Stereo
Feb 06, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important, must read featuring the deconstruction of toxic masculinity as well as the construction of a new, refined framework of modern day masculinity. Truly eye-opening.
Peggy Orenstein has been my personal hero for over a decade. She's the reason I became a gender scholar. I was excited to hear about this book, but I believe she was too easy on some of these processes. I appreciated what seemed like her reluctance to join into cancel culture with some of these boys, but a boy who sexually harasses and sexually assaults his peers who are girls is not a "good boy". I don't care if he volunteers and if he loves his mom. It's hard to stand up for what you believe ...more
Steve Donoghue
A sharply insightful look at a subject that's never been more controversial or important than it is right now. My full review is here:
Jakub Szestowicki
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Not great, not terrible
Rachel Watkins
Nov 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: arc, harper-collins
Extremely interesting and helpful. Have already ordered another book she referenced. Review to come. Literally read it in 48 hours.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Boys & Sex, researcher Peggy Orenstein explores how toxic masculinity affects the sexual behavior of American Millenial and Gen Z boys. Her basic premise is that from an early age, male children in this demographic are taught to limit their emotional vocabulary, which only gets worse as they are exposed to media stereotypes, free internet porn, lack of sexual education at home and at school, and the unfulfilling expectation or reality of hookup culture, all of which combine to negatively ...more
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This should absolutely be required reading for anyone who has ever been a boy, raised a boy, wants to raise a boy, works with boys or knows boys. I realize that basically means everyone so yeah, everyone should read this book.
Through interviews with dozens of young boys and young men, Orenstein recounts in painstaking and sometimes graphic detail the world that young boys are growing up in and the world that they are learning how to navigate. She writes about toxic masculinity, sexual assault
Jan 13, 2020 added it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2020
Generally full of thoughtfully presented information. A few parts did feel shaming of sex workers and people who tended toward having many sexual partners. There was no discussion of ethical porn, which I was surprised by.
Alex Richey
Jan 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
AudioFile Review!

This was a really great eye opener. It discusses the titular topics with Gen Z men in their late teens and early 20s, including non-white men and trans men. As familiar as I am with my own experiences, it simply didn't occur to me just how much pressure is placed on young men and boys in their struggles to be included. I recommend this to women that want to build empathy, but also for parents struggling to talk to their children about sex.
Ryan Hicks
Jan 29, 2020 rated it it was ok
This book is just as ridiculous if not worse than her first book on girls and sex. About 20% of this book is true. I find it hilarious that all the top-rated reviews are predominantly coming from females. If that doesn't raise some suspicions then you're ignoring the signs.

The first two chapters (and sparingly through the rest of the book) she uses her political bias to deem that everything is the cause of Trump — despite him only being in office for 3 years. Beyond the first two chapters she
With Girls and Sex, Peggy Orenstein gave readers powerful glimpses into the lived realities of teenage girls, with an adept mix of personal connection, theoretical acumen, and action-based advice. Boys and Sex begins with a similar promise: by interviewing young men and collecting data for two years, Orenstein has developed insights into how young men experience masculinity and what society can do to steer them away from misogynistic patterns. Writing this in the context of Trump-era definitions ...more
Grant Keegan
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was a brilliant, down to earth reality check that I believe every young man (especially in America) should read.

Peggy Orenstein did a great job at bringing forward a much needed conversation that people need to hear. Navigating topics like sexual assault, toxic masculinity, confidence and unrealistic expectations, this book made me realize that a lot of the doubts and questions I have about my own life have a good answer.

It was hard to read at times, as Orenstein didn't shy away from
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was ok
A good examination of boys' approach to intimacy. I found it particularly interesting that boys used the term 'hilarious' as a catchall to describe a range of emotions, not all of them funny or even positive. The book wasn't bad but can we retire the term "forcible rape"? I keep seeing this term in feminist literature and I find it extremely problematic. I did find that the chapter on pornography was perhaps a bit overblown and reminiscent of the sex wars in the 1980s. The fact that the author ...more
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
My first #GoodreadsGiveaway. This is such an important read for parents, educators, and anyone with an interest in the well-being of adolescents and young adults. As usual, Peggy Orenstein skillfully weaves the narratives of her interviewees into her observations of the current cultural moment and with some of the current sociological and psychological literature on gender, sexuality, and well-being. More than anything though, it is Orenstein's in-depth and engaging writing style that makes her ...more
Vikki VanSickle
An absolutely urgent and necessary body of work from a true expert. Orenstein conducts interviews with boys from various backgrounds, compiling case studies and statistics to show how boys are affected by toxic masculinity, porn, and a lack of discussion about sex in general. In short, they are suffering. The book includes difficult things to read, but Orenstein presents solutions or at least first steps that can help all kids- boys, girls, and non-gender conformists-live healthier, happier, and ...more
Morninglight Mama
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I know I say this about a lot of novels I read, because I want someone I know to share in the experience I had in reading a piece of fiction. But when I say that this one is a book that YOU MUST ABSOLUTELY READ, I'm not saying it lightly or for entertainment purposes. I'm saying it because I truly believe this book is imperative in helping adults to understand-- and hopefully, disrupt-- the current status of how boys learn to become men. This is a heavy, but very accessible read, and I cannot ...more
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: audio, 2020
This book is crucial. My son is 3, but it’s already important to think about how important it is to talk to boys about masculinity, sexual ethics, consent, and, yes, porn.
3.5, it was okay, it sort of repeated a lot of things, felt like it wasn't based on anything other than interviews (which I suppose it wasn't) and just wasn't a compelling read.
Feb 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Made me sadder than the girl book, but also had more concrete solutions.
The Elizabeth Walker
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This is a must-read for parents of boys (or maybe anyone). It is both easy to read and very compelling.
Dana Probert
Feb 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read for the parents of boys.
Brad Hart
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very instructive book on how male sexuality is shaped by so many modern influences which virtually no other generation has encountered. The impact of pornography is discussed at length which I appreciated as a father of boys.
Jan 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Amy always gets me to read books that make me angry and depressed about how terrible the world is. And I still love her.

Excellent. Eye-opening. Powerful. Can I go back in time and require all my daughters’ past/current/future boyfriends’ parents to read and embrace and teach this book to their sons?!!


“That makes sense-if, that is, you have been denied full emotional expression, been trained to suppress empathy, and consider cruelty or making demeaning sexual comments about women to be
Peter Goodman
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing

“Boys and Sex: young men on hookups, love, porn, consent, and navigating the new masculinity,” by Peggy Orenstein (HarperCollins, 2020). As a former boy, I found this book disturbing and enlightening both at the same time. Orenstein compiled it by interviewing dozens of boys and young men, high school through college age. She found that by and large they were very confused about how they were supposed to approach sexuality and sexual activity, regardless of gender identity. The world she
Feb 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A must read for moms of boys! A frank, comprehensive, and thoroughly contemporary examination of the sexuality and gender issues boys face while growing up, including defining their masculinity and ‘fitting in with the boys’, understanding their bodies, learning about consent, exploring romantic relationships, etc.

Informative and data driven without being overly academic; conversational, humorous-when-appropriate voice, infused with passion for the subject and empathy for her interview subjects.
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Peggy Orenstein is a best-selling author and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. Orenstein has also written for such publications as The Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Vogue, Elle, Discover, More, Mother Jones, Salon, O: The Oprah Magazine, and The New Yorker, and has contributed commentaries to NPR’s All Things Considered. Her articles have been anthologized multiple times, ...more
“We fuss a lot about ‘the sex talk,’” says Richard Weissbourd, the director of Making Caring Common. “We do not fuss about a far more important talk, which is: How do we talk to our children about the courage and subtlety and discipline and tenderness and tough-mindedness that it really takes to love someone else?” 0 likes
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