Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

10. Women's “Locker-Room Talk,” Safer-Sex
Education, and the Media: New Information
and Openness

Girls are getting better sex now than they did before, now that they can
talk about it.

—Good-looking South Miami Beach guy on MTV's
Sex in the '90s documentary

When 20-year-old Darlene had sex for the first time (a few months before our conversation), with her first real boyfriend, she hardly fit the stereotype of a virgin as a sexually ignorant naïf. She knew about birth control. She knew how to make the experience more enjoyable physically. She knew she shouldn't feel guilty. After all, she had done her homework. Darlene explained her personal journey for sex information during much of our interview in her parents' Orange County, California, home. She was on summer break from Occidental College and was living in her old room, filled with objects from her teenage years. Tennis trophies crowded the small desk, and on the wall were movie posters, already curling around the edges with age.

While she was in high school, she couldn't depend on getting sex education in the classroom, as the fundamentalist Christians in her area had restricted the curriculum to lesson on abstinence. So she and her parents filled in the gaps. Years ago, they gave her a copy of Our Bodies, Ourselves, which became her central reference source. “When I was a teenager, I was in that stage: 'That's gross, Mom and Dad. Don't talk to me about that. I'm not into that stuff. You don't have to worry about me.' And so I didn't read it. And recently, a week ago, I was like, 'Gee, I wonder,' and I pulled it out and was reading certain sections. I think I read the section on masturbation. It was decently helpful.” A major source of information has been her friends; she has received emotional support from those closest to her and practical

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