“Sext and the Single Girl.”


For a full six weeks, I’ve been intending to post this link, and keep putting it off. I’m not exactly certain why. Though the review has not inspired me to run out and buy the actual book — assuming anyone ever does this in our Kindle age — it has made a definite impression, in spite of the fact that at first glance, the subject matter isn’t particularly relevant to the daily life of a budding geriatric.

The interviews also reveal an almost comical generation gap. When one recent high school graduate explains to Orenstein that performing oral sex is “like money or some kind of currency. . . . It’s how you make friends with the popular guys. . . . It’s more impersonal than sex,” Orenstein writes, “I may be of a different generation, but, frankly, it’s hard for me to consider a penis in my mouth as ‘impersonal.’ ”

The problem, of course, is that while I’m 55 years old, my brain remains wired, if tenuously, to politically incorrect adolescence. My immediate reaction to reading the above paragraph is nostalgic prurience and a bad jokes about being born way too soon.

But of course the subject matter is relevant, and many friends of mine have children and grandchildren in this chronological range. This book may be of interest to them for more pressing reasons than mine.

I try not to fall into the trap of saying things were simpler way back then, though at times they actually were — and coming to grips with sex and sexuality was daunting enough before smart phones and selfies. In general, life’s hard enough without unreasonable expectations and required roles for playing.

Can I take the easy way out and blame rampant consumerism, or have we milked dry this particular excuse?

Sext and the Single Girl, by Cindi Leivemarch (New York Times)

Navigating the Complicated New Landscape
By Peggy Orenstein
303 pp. Harper. $26.99.

There’s a moment midway through Peggy Orenstein’s latest book that seems to sum up what it’s like to be a teenage girl right now. An economics major taking a gender studies class is getting dressed in her college dorm room for a night out, cheerfully discussing sexual stereotyping in advertising with Orenstein — while at the same time grabbing a miniskirt and a bottle of vodka, the better to achieve her evening goal: to “get really drunk and make out with someone.” “You look hot,” her friend tells her — and the student, apparently registering the oddness of the scene, turns to Orenstein. “In my gender class I’m all, ‘That damned patriarchy,’ ” she says. “But . . . what’s the point of a night if you aren’t getting attention from guys?” Her ambition, she explains, “is to be just slutty enough, where you’re not a prude but you’re not a whore. . . . Finding that balance is every college girl’s dream, you know what I mean?”