In Peggy Orenstein’s book, aptly titled Girls and Sex, she examines the hyper-sexualized lives of American girls aged 15-20. The book investigates how these teenagers navigate a world that places a premium on their sexualization - and makes them complicit in the scheme. From campus hook up culture and rape to purity balls and sex ed classes, Orenstein examines their lives from every angle, basing her observations on in-depth interviews with girls across the country. The patterns and habits she notes are alarming, but there are also noteworthy points of hope.
A thirty year old journalist running late for an interview, ends up being raped at knife point. Afterwards, her assailant says he will find her. But years after his conviction and imprisonment, the author ends up finding him. In harrowing detail no newspaper would print, Connors confronts her ordeal and then uncovers the cycle of poverty, domestic violence and substance abuse that shaped her attacker’s life. I couldn’t put it down.
Fast Forward: How Women Can Achieve Power and Purpose (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24) by Melanne Verveer and Kim K. Azzarelli looks at the lives of 70 women around the world who have achieved power in their respective fields while staying true to the purpose of their work. Verveer, the first ever Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues at the State Department—appointed by President Obama—and Azzarelli, a top executive at Avon, together have experience in politics, diplomacy, business, advocacy, and philanthropy and are both celebrated champions of women’s rights. Their book explores how women can leverage their growing economic power not only to succeed in their own fields but also to lead purposeful lives and change the world. Those profiled include famous women like Geena Davis and Diane von Furstenberg, as well as equally compelling if lesser known leaders like Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, and Dr. Hawa Abdi, who has provided 100,000 people refuge from violence in Somalia.