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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  3,380 ratings  ·  568 reviews

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 th
ebook, 304 pages
Published January 7th 2020 by Harper
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Average rating 4.22  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,380 ratings  ·  568 reviews

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Emily May
Jan 24, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, feminism, nonfiction
"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 boys— it
Justin Tate
May 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Checked this out to see how bad society screwed me up as a kid, and to see if it’s gotten any better for the next round. Orenstein makes many surprising discoveries during her long interview process with today’s high school and college-aged guys. Some more shocking than others.

Though it takes her a while to get there, the most eye-opening bits discuss the problematic cultural depiction of men.

We all know women are objectified on magazine covers and in movies, but how does it feel to be a boy and
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 empower
Maja  - BibliophiliaDK ✨

Okay, so I don't have a son. But I do know several men. And I really feel like this book has made me understand them better. Often, when we talk about feminism and equality, we have a tendency to look a the female experience. Which is a mistake, because the male experience is just as important - and in some ways just as flawed. Learning how these young men are trying to navigate ideas of 'masculinity' and gender norms rea
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.
This is the book every parent wishes they could give their son, and one every son wishes they could receive. Peggy Orenstein presents a well-researched 2020 follow-up to her 2016 "Girls & Sex". The data is incredibly current and detailed on the topics of hooking up, porn, gay trans and queer, boys of color(s), consent (both ways!), and just a better understanding of what is going through the minds of boys today, and how they can become better men for tomorrow.

The author remains professional thro
Camelia Rose
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peggy Orenstein interviewed 100 teens and young men between 16-20 in the US, mostly White middle class heterosexual men, but also LGBTQ+, Black and Asian men, on the topic of sex and relationships. Boys & Sex is a collection of the interviews. It is not an academic social study, although it includes results from several such studies.

The book, part parenting part social commentary, is compulsively readable. Every page is informative and challenging. I want to simultaneously bang my head against
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, thoug
Mariah Roze
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Everyone should read this book! It was extremely education about gender stereotypes and roles.

"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 which equally affect how they navigate sexual and emotional relation
Cyral Neeley
Feb 02, 2020 rated it did not like it
I have read a lot of objective studies that are clinical but this one is full of anger and judgement. She only interviewed 100 subjects and she found the worst of the worst to talk to. When she did interview a good guy she slammed him for not being proactive enough. It sounds like all guys are out to get drunk and then have meaningless sex. Here is the Me Too movement in all it's fury. I listened to this with a lady friend, on a drive, and she had similar feelings. The information could be helpf ...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 a
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 c ...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: ...more
Jun 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism, non-fic
Really interesting book on men and masculinity. So much of what she said resonated and I learned new things and language surrounding how men are oftentimes victims of sexual assault but don't realize it because of narrative surrounding assault. Toxic masculinity harms men by not teaching them to be emotive. I didn't agree with everything she said; I felt like she picked at hip hop in unfair ways (picking and choosing which Black academics she was citing when there are lots out there who feel dif ...more
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 th
Apr 04, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember myself as a teen being curious about self-gratification, not even about sex yet. But for people of faith, it is taboo, worldly, a sin; a grey area to a teen who only felt natural to explore his body but was shameful about it. Your sectarian school would tell you to a tee what length to have your hair cut so you could take the exam (I still think it a pointless policy) but wouldn't as much mention in class the word 'sex' much less discuss human sexuality.

My sexual curiosity as a teen
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.
Shelleyrae at Book'd Out
Negotiating sexuality and relationships today is arguably more complicated than when I was teenager and as the mother of two teenage boys (and girls) I hoped Boys & Sex might provide me with some insights into areas I may have not considered as part of my discussions with them.

The ‘sex talk’ has never been a single conversation in our house, it’s been the subject of casual discourse over the years as they’ve grown, often initiated as the result of news stories, gossip, or issues faced by their p
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 i ...more
3.5. Personally, I liked reading Boys & Sex better than reading Girls & Sex. In Boys & Sex, Peggy Orenstein interviews more than 100 boys in the United States about gender, sex, porn, hook-up culture, and more. Nothing here was anything we didn't necessarily already know boys might think or do regarding their sexuality, but it is interesting to hear it first-hand from teens and young adults. Orenstein's biggest strength is her readability; her books are engaging and follow a narrative arc. I tho ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it really liked it
Well, much like Girls & Sex, this book is horrifying. I would in no way call it an easy read (I found myself unable to fall asleep after reading the chapter on porn and the one on drunken hookups wasn’t much better.)

That said, I think this book is an important read for moms of boys to push through in order to understand what is going on and what challenges are out there. I may have wanted to stick my head in the sand instead of finishing it, but I don’t think that would have been a better optio
Daniel Dao
Mar 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
One of the books we choose for our 2020 book club (currently three POC men), so I was definitely excited to pick this one up. I'm glad to say that Peggy Orenstein decides to address the elephant in our room, which is interviewing men who identify as queer, trans, or are POC. There are many interviews in which people from different ethnicities, sexual identities, and gender identities tackle the issue of masculinity and what it looks like to them. Oftentimes I've read books which center around a ...more
Jakub Szestowicki
Jan 13, 2020 rated it liked it
Not great, not terrible
May 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must-read if you are raising a child or teen, love a child or teen or know a child or teen. And yes that is everyone. Prepare to be uncomfortable but in a necessary and important way.
Dori Gray
Oct 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Should be required reading for all parents of boys.
Jul 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very fascinating and readable.
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Peggy Orenstein's newest book (written four years after her excellent "Girls and Sex") examines a changing world for young men in light of the "Me Too" movement. Parents of boys should read this; boys and men should read this; come to think of it, everyone should read this. We would ALL be wise to understand and internalize the wisdom -- and universal benefit-- of sexual interactions that are respectful of others' feelings and grounded in mutual regard. It can't be easy to be a teenager today, b ...more
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating, sadly relevant, honest, and open.
Apr 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Have four kids. Going
to have to have the talk with
all. Now have resource.
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 impa ...more
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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, incl ...more

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According to some historians, the month of April is actually named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, by way of the Romans....
44 likes · 26 comments
“Young men who internalize masculine norms are six times more likely than others both to report having sexually harassed girls and to have bullied other guys. They are also more likely to themselves have been victims of verbal or physical violence. They are more prone to binge-drinking and risky sexual behavior, and more likely than other boys to be in car accidents. They are also painfully lonely: less happy than other guys, with fewer close friends; more prone to depression and suicide. Whatever comfort, status, or privilege is conferred by the "real man" mantle, then- and clearly those exist- comes at tremendous potential cost to boys' physical and mental health, as well as that of young women around them.” 0 likes
“By midway through Kindergarten- that's age five or six- they've learned from their peers to knock that stuff off, at least in public: to disconnect from feelings, shun intimacy, and become hierarchical in their behavior. The lifelong physical and mental health consequences of that gender performance are ingrained as early as ten. By fourteen boys become convinced that other guys will "lose respect" for them if they talk about problems.” 0 likes
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