What teen girls really want from relationships (hint: it's not just sex)

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A new book about the sexual environment our daughters inhabit has hit the shelves. Peggy Orenstein’s Girls and Sex: Navigating the Complicated New Landscape is hailed as “groundbreaking” and has been reviewed extensively by mainstream media outlets.

As a result, it is currently #1 at Amazon in several categories, including Parenting Teenagers and—ready?—Feminist Theory. That’s a scary combination, indeed.

And, it’s now on the New York Times bestseller list, too.

Ms. Orenstein, a self-described feminist and “progressive liberal” mom, wants to help Americans teach their daughters about sex. She says you’re not doing it right.

For one thing, when your children were babies and toddlers you willingly labeled your boys’ private parts and ignored your daughters’, shaming your girls and making the vagina a “literally unspeakable” thing.

You also teach the mechanics of sex and warn against pregnancy and STDs but spend no time teaching your daughters how to enjoy themselves sexually. As a result, girls are suffering from a “psychological clitoridectomy.”

In fact, the real problem girls face, says Orenstein, isn’t that they’re sexually active too soon. It’s that they’re pressured by society to service boys and to get nothing in return. Girls happily perform oral sex, for instance, but don’t feel entitled to ask boys to reciprocate.

And in an age of equality, they should.

“After talking to so many girls,” she writes, “I now know what to hope for—for my own daughter and for them. I want sexuality to be a source of self knowledge and creativity and communication, despite its potential risks. I want them to revel in their bodies and sensuality without being reduced to it. I want them to be able to ask for what they want in bed, and to get it…”

Orenstein’s research has convinced her, she says, of the “absolute importance” of “talking about girls as victims.” Victimhood is the crux of all feminist teachings, of course—and this time I agree. Girls are victims.

They’re victims of feminism.

For decades, feminists have conditioned young women to use their sexuality the way men use theirs. Yet a romp in the hay is not what girls want.

What they want is to be loved. And at such a tender age, it is all too easy to conflate the two. As parents, it is our job to help girls navigate the difference.

That girls are told they’re no different from boys is the reason they dive head first into sex, and then assume love will follow. This message is toxic. The female body is doused in oxytocin, which makes it impossible to extricate love from sex. Females have always put love before sex—that’s what makes them special by nature.

It’s also why women, not men, wait by the phone the next day. It’s why the film “He’s Just Not That Into You” wasn’t titled “She’s Just Not That Into You.”

When most girls have sex, it’s a very big deal. They can pretend otherwise all day long—they’re lying.

Even Lena Dunham (who foolishly sees no connection between feminism and her revelation) gets it: “I heard so many of my friends saying, ‘Why can’t I have sex and feel nothing?’ It was amazing: that this was the new goal. There’s a biological reason why women feel about sex the way they do and why men feel about sex the way they do.”

Indeed. Which is why any book about girls and sex that omits this fact is useless.