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But who cares how “proud” you are of your body’s appearance if you don’t enjoy its responses?
Orenstein interviewed more than seventy young women for her book, each of them chosen to represent those who had “benefited most from women’s economic and political progress.” All were at college or college-bound, and almost all struck her as “bright, assertive, ambitious” students.
Girls have higher graduation rates than their male counterparts at all educational levels.
(They are not troubled about teenagers leading active sex lives, they assure us, only about the severely limited forms in which female sexuality is currently allowed to express itself; they are not even against casual sex per se, just eager to ensure that there should be, as Orenstein puts it, “reciprocity, respect, and agency regardless of the context of a sexual encounter.”) Even so, neither of their books entirely avoids the exaggerations, the simplifications, the whiff of manufactured crisis that we have come to associate with this genre.
Nor is learning to be sexually desirable the same as exploring your own desire: your wants, your needs, your capacity for joy, for passion, for intimacy, for ecstasy….
The culture is littered with female body parts, with clothes and posturing that purportedly express sexual confidence.
Danielle, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, 2010; photograph by Rania Matar from her book A Girl and Her Room (2012), which collects her portraits of teenage girls in their bedrooms in the US and Lebanon.
It includes essays by Susan Minot and Anne Tucker and is published by Umbrage Editions.
(Rather like Ruskin, whose ideas about the naked female form are said to have been gleaned from classical statuary, modern porn-reared boys expect female genitalia to be hairless.)She also notes that, in the years since the Internet made hardcore porn widely accessible to teenage boys, anal sex has become a more or less standard feature of the heterosexual repertoire.