"GOING ALL THE WAY: Teenage Girls' Tales of Sex, Romance, and Pregnancy" by Sharon Thompson

"GOING ALL THE WAY: Teenage Girls' Tales of Sex, Romance, and Pregnancy"

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Juicy narratives of teen romance, marred by academic prose and questionable interpretations and conclusions. Feminist writer Thompson (Powers of Desire: The Politics of Sexuality, not reviewed) spent ten years interviewing over 400 teenage girls in a variety of settings, such as shopping malls and pizza parlors. The result is a perturbing portrait of a generation of young women who, for the most part, dissociate sex from either love, romance, or commitment. Equally distressing is Thompson's apparent agenda, which gives males significance only as instruments of the emotional and sexual development of their female counterparts. Females, in fact, are discreetly applauded for their capacity to manipulate males for their own egos and insights. Thompson categorizes these young women into various groupings. The least fortunate are those naive females who believe that ""sex has the potential to generate caring and love."" Because men can easily obtain sex without any emotional investment, these women are inevitably victims, relics from a previous era. The more popular girls, contends Thompson, avoid this trap. Their popularity has made them less desperate for romantic entanglements; they prefer casual relationships with the opposite sex. And the girls who can most successfully dissociate sex from anything but pleasure and experience seem to be the ones who score the most points with the author. These are the girls who almost never slip up on birth control or allow themselves to be distracted from what really matters in their lives. The teens who are depicted as being the most fulfilled, however, lack interest in men altogether: Thompson idealizes the lesbian experience as the most erotically and emotionally satisfying. Even the extensive notes fail to lend credibility to much of the author's idiosyncratic conclusions. An uneven social history that reveals more about the author than about the girls she interviewed.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1995
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: "Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus & Giroux"