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Titles similar to The V-Word
Feminism has come a long way from the fight for suffrage, and in its current manifestation, it can be difficult for some to determine precisely what feminism stands for or, indeed, if it’s necessary at all. It seems like women have more freedom than ever, but, as these two titles emphasize, in both the political and personal spheres, there’s a lot of ground yet to cover.
Each of the broad range of contributors in Keyser’s The V-Word: True Stories about First-Time Sex—gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, etc.—details the sometimes painfully awkward, sometimes blissful experience of choosing to have sex for the first time. The frank, sexually explicit (naturally) narratives cover a wide range of experiences—some are sweet and transformative; others are perfunctory or borderline forgettable—but the one thing they all share is the importance of sexual agency. One woman tells the story of waiting until her wedding night, while another describes a relationship with a man who respected her—a sharp contrast to the years of sexual abuse she endured before.
Each woman makes a choice to have sex, and choice is the key element here. The V in V-Word can be interpreted as “voice,” not “virginity,” and the takeaway is the importance of young women speaking up for what they want or don’t want and taking an active role in what happens to their bodies. While highlighting the importance of choice, moreover, the contributors’ accounts dismantle the idea that virginity is something to be revered as a mark of purity that, if lost, is a source of shame or mourning; rather, choosing to have sex is merely the first step down a path of new experiences.
Keyser follows the essays with in-depth, accessible advice for teens geared almost exclusively toward girls as well as extensive resources for further learning. Sexual empowerment is the name of the game here, and it’s a message not often doled out in today’s climate of abstinence-only sex ed. Vitally, some expert sex educators weigh in, which adds an air of credibility to the proceedings. Occasionally, the tone is overly sentimental, and teens allergic to sincerity might bristle, but, overall, this is an excellent resource for teens interested in sex that gives them not only meaningful and important tools for health, such as concrete advice about contraceptives and consent, but a supportive, sex-positive voice in a culture that’s still fairly uncomfortable addressing sexuality, in teen girls in particular.
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