ESS Feb. 9 event hosts noted author of “Boys & Sex”
By Lou Fancher
Piedmont Education Foundation’s ambitious 2020-21 Speaker Series continues this month with New York Times best-selling author Peggy Orenstein on Feb. 9. The program titled, Boys & Sex: Young Men on Hookup Culture, Love, Porn, Consent & Becoming a Better Man takes on the topic of how boys navigate sexual and emotional relationships in contemporary culture.
A meticulous researcher and journalist who doesn’t shy away from awkward topics, Orenstein’s contributions have also appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, Slate, The Atlantic and The New Yorker, among other publications. She is the author of six books, including Girls & Sex, Cinderella Ate My Daughter, Waiting For Daisy and others.
After writing about female identity and sexuality, she has turned her attention to boys and young men. Orenstein’s 2020 book on the topic is backed by more than a decade of research. Conversations held over a two year period with boys and young men ages 16-22 form the basis for nine chapters illuminating the real life habits, behaviors and “rules” that sway, steer and may even straight-jacket a young male’s sexuality and identity.
Orenstein consults with psychologists, academics and experts in the field of young people’s sexuality and balances the difficult issues with science-backed, practical advice for parents, educators, teens and young adults. Porn, hookups, gay and non-binary self-identifiers, female objectification, social media deceptions and stereotypes, toxic masculinity, and boys who perpetrate sexual violence—nothing is off limits.
Q&A with listeners
Like other ESS events, the presentation will conclude with a live-streamed Q&A. The series is organized so that after hearing from experts like Orenstein, questions submitted by participants bring the right-here, right-now concerns of parents forward. The speakers not only offer real time advice, but provide links to websites and other resources for further investigation and learning.
Keeping the community connected
Having viewed all of the current season’s programs to date, an unmistakable take-away is how the series reinforces a strong sense of community. Parents find they are not alone in their struggles to shepherd a young child to adulthood in today’s constantly shifting culture. Families are reminded there is reason to celebrate that journey, however complicated. Teachers and educators better understand the obstacles they encounter in the classroom and how to work with parents to benefit the whole child. Lastly, young people whose families might previously have avoided the tough topics, find new perspectives and resources to help dialogue the issues they face.