Peggy Orenstein, the author of Girls & Sex, a fascinating analysis of the post-Sexual Revolution landscape, is now releasing a new book, Boys & Sex. Based on long-form interviews with over 100 boys between the ages of 16 and 22 either in college or heading there, Orenstein’s revelations are an interesting glimpse into today’s bewildered, directionless masculinity—a term most boys no longer even understand. I haven’t purchased the book yet—I’ll review it when I do—but her response to an interview question from NPR on the impact of the Internet is very insightful:
What they’re getting in porn is a really distorted vision of what human sexuality is. They see image after image of sex as something men do to women, of female pleasure as a performance for male satisfaction, of distorted bodies — of a whole lot of things that frankly wouldn’t feel very good to most people. And without discussion with parents and without discussion by schools, that’s becoming the de facto sex educator for a lot of kids. …
One thing that research shows is that [porn] actually reduces their satisfaction in their partnered relationships. So they feel less satisfied with their partners’ bodies, with their own bodies, with their own performance. So right there, something to talk to boys about is, “It’s not going to be doing any favors once you get into the actual bedroom.” But it affects their ideas about what women should look like. It affects their ideas about how women should behave. It affects their ideas of what acts should be performed and the way that those acts should be performed.
In fact, porn is rendering boys incapable of sustaining healthy relationships, creating the highest rates of erectile dysfunction among young men in recorded history, mainstreaming ugly and violent ideas about sex (consider the prevalence of choking and slapping, for example), and, inevitably, making them miserable. Hopefully Orenstein’s book will wake people up to this unfolding cultural disaster.