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Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both Hardcover – February 15, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
In her second book, journalist Stepp (Our Last Best Shot) gets an inside perspective on the "hookup," which has become the "primary currency of social interaction" between the sexes in high schools and colleges. Though it's clear where Stepp, mother of three, stands in regard to "hooking up"-a no-strings-attached sex act that allows participants "the freedom to unhook" at any time-Stepp has a seasoned pro's ability to step back, examining carefully and sympathetically the "cultural shift" in its particulars, through the individual stories of interviewees, as well as in its broader cultural impact. Inspired by a series of articles she wrote on eighth-grade oral sex rings for The Washington Post in 1998 ("two years before the popularity of oral sex in middle schools percolated through the media"), Stepp avoids breathless sensationalism, preferring instead to explore the meaning of "hooking up," its fallout, potential long-range consequences for women and men, and the factors that have allowed such a shift to take place-wisely asking, "Where are young women's teachers?" rather than "What is wrong with these girls?" Though it would have benefited from a winnowing of interviews, this insightful study is vivid and engaging, and includes a practical conversation guide for mothers and daughters, making it a valuable text for parents that goes beyond the latest the-kids-are-not-alright headlines.
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"Hooking up" is a common phrase among young people today, but as journalist Stepp (author of Our Last Best Shot, 2000) discovered, the term is nebulous in meaning. Covering a range of sexual behavior, hooking up can mean anything from kissing to intercourse, as well as everything in between. Stepp conducted extensive interviews with young women in high school and college to find out how this casual approach to sexual encounters is affecting a generation. What she learned is that in large part hooking up had supplanted dating, with both young men and women eschewing deeper relationships for casual encounters with little or no commitment involved. Stepp looks at how the culture of today fosters these attitudes, noting that when young women are expected to excel at school and have numerous outside activities, many feel they don't have time to form a deeper bond with a significant other. Eye-opening and powerful, Stepp's book also offers empowering advice for women as they navigate today's sexual landscape. Kristine Huntley
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