For 25 years, journalist peggy orenstein has been documenting and dissecting the inner lives of teenage girls exploring why some struggle with confidence or cling to secret Disney fantasies. But with the #MeToo movement shining an overdue light on sexual assault, she’s focusing on another urgent subject: the sex lives of teenage boys, and the lessons they’re learning (or not learning) about how to be a man.
Orenstein talks to teens, compiles their stories to share with the world and provides the rest of us with a nuanced look at all aspects of their lives. For the follow-up to her 2016 book, Girls & Sex (R322, loot. co.za), she asked more than 100 guys between the ages of 16 and 22 about intimacy, masculinity and consent. The result, Boys & Sex (R541, exclusive books.co.za), is a stunning portrait of young men in quiet crisis and the dilemma of the “man box”. Emotional vulnerability is taboo, and they’re afraid of the ridicule should they acknowledge it.
Here, she talks about the importance of open conversations, porn and intimacy and more.
GQ: The boys in your book were so honest. How did you approach them?
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