Book Plunge: Boys and Sex

What do I think of Peggy Orenstein’s book published by Harper? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I’m convinced that today, there is a war on boys. Much of our society is geared towards the feminine and traits considered manly are often looked down on. Consider something as simple even as how schools are run. Girls often have a much easier time sitting at desks for prolonged times. Boys tend to need to be more active.

We have terms like Toxic Masculinity going around and then there is the MeToo movement, which I suspect had noble aspirations, but quickly became a way to get any man in trouble. Men are also put in a dangerous position when it comes to female beauty. Compliment a woman on her beauty and you are objectifying her. Say nothing about it and you are ignoring her.

Peggy Orenstein decided to study the topic when it comes to sex and boys and her boys she interviewed were mainly high school and college age. A lot of what she saw dealt with the hook-up culture and pornography. How do guys view this and how does that differ from girls?

This is also written from a secular perspective so much I will not agree with upfront such as not being favorable towards abstinence only positions and support for the LGBTQ community. Despite that, this book is quite insightful. Any parent should read it, even if you don’t have boys but have daughters instead, so you can know what is coming.

It also highlights for me that this is an area we are deeply lacking in. Most people today hardly ever think about sex. Yes. I seriously said that. They don’t. But don’t I watch TV or listen to the news or listen to music today? How am I missing it?

Easy. We talk about it. We dream about it and fantasize about it and watch it and just plain do it, but we don’t think about it. Most of us don’t have a place in our worldview for sex. It’s just a recreational thing that we do together.

So it is that boys and girls think very differently about sex. Porn was one of the first topics covered for boys. It is extremely rare to find a man like me who never struggled with that. The result? Our boys grow up with a twisted view of sex. They think they have to perform a certain way and can often have sexual problems as a result. They can also think all girls really want it and when they say no, they don’t really mean that. They just want the boys to push harder.

Some boys had even gone so far as to get a flip phone to be able to avoid porn. Pornography is controlling so much of the thinking in society about sex today. It’s no wonder there’s so much chaos in this topic and young boys need to be prepared for this. Of course, I’m listening to this and wondering “Why not realize that the boys aren’t the problem, but the porn is?”

Boys also worry about experience like I said. They can get nervous when with a girl for the first time and they think it’s going to happen. What if the girl has more experience and the guy is unprepared? What if he makes a mistake? (News flash guys. You likely will with your first time.) Some guys are either hesitant to perform or can’t.

There is another problem behind this. Guys are trained to not talk about feelings or emotions or express them. For me, I think of a guy like Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII who shows no emotion even when tragedy strikes repeatedly. Men who show emotion or weakness are told to man up. Most men don’t go to their guy friends to talk about problems because that’s not something guys do. (Again, thankful I have guys I can talk to about problems.)

There’s also a section on how guys can also be victimized. Yes. At parties where guys get drunk, they can be victimized by girls and many of them don’t like it, but how are you going to speak out? Your guy friends will say something like, “Dude. You got laid anyway. Why complain?” They do complain because believe it or not, many guys want sex to be special.

Also, a guy can’t help it if his body responds to sexual stimuli just like a girl can’t help it if hers does. A girl can have reactions to sexual stimuli even in rape. That doesn’t mean she likes it or wants it. A man does not need to be shamed for his body functioning. As someone told me recently, “If you’re a man on the beach and a pretty girl goes in front of you in a bikini and you don’t notice, it doesn’t mean you’re more spiritual. It means you’re dead.”

However, guys too often are doing the assaulting. They are too often of the mindset that the women really want it when they don’t. Of course, a lot of this talk about the necessity of consent could be greatly lowered if we would just encourage people to wait until marriage, but for some reason that’s unrealistic. Guys can cause great damage to girls without realizing it or intending it.

One great takeaway from the book also is contrary to what you think, guys want older men, including their Dads, to talk to them about sex. They also want a real conversation. They don’t want a quick five minute event and that’s it. There should be regular ongoing communication.

What I would like to see more in future works is what sex means really to guys. As a married man, I know what it means to me. It is more than just a recreational activity and more even than just having children. Guys need to understand this. Of course, girls do as well, but this book is about the boys.

I said at the start that while the book is secular, I think parents should read this, including Christian parents. Girls even should read this to learn about what you’re going to be experiencing. Christian parents especially need to read about the hook-up culture and the damage that it is doing to our children.

Dare I say it, but churches need to be talking about this too. Youth groups especially should be preparing our young adults for adult life and marriage if they choose to go that route. By all means teach abstinence, but teach why we do that instead of just the don’ts. Give youth a whole worldview of sex so that when they’re with their significant other on a couch, they have more than just a few verses in Paul to keep them from getting their game on.

Bottom line. Read this book and learn from it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

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