A tough age for girls

Teenage girls navigate a tough landscape. There are tools the church can offer them.

In writing about the lives of teenage girls, Peggy Orenstein and Nancy Jo Sales report on violent pornography, rape, bullying, harassment, coercion to “sext” or to perform oral sex, hookup culture, alcohol and drug abuse, and the exploitation of teen desires by social media companies. This is the world, they show us, in which American girls are growing up.

Orenstein is a feminist social critic with a penchant for funny, shocking phrases (“I may be of a different generation, but, frankly, it’s hard for me to consider a penis in my mouth as ‘impersonal’”), a familiarity with pop culture, and a good handle on relevant social science. The core of her book is based on extensive interviews with young women who are in college or college-bound. Her summary:

Young women grow up in a porn-saturated, image-centered, commercialized culture in which “empowerment” is just a feeling, consumption trumps connection, “hot” is an imperative, fame is the ultimate achievement, and the quickest way for a woman to get ahead is to serve up her body before someone else does.