Prude: How the Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls (and America, Too!)
by Carol Platt Liebau
“Once upon a time,” writes Carol Platt Liebau in her new pro-virtue manifesto Prude, “‘slut’ was one of the greatest insults. But now, being a prude is deemed to be even worse.” Everywhere in America, from the Hooters on the corner to the movies in our theaters to the songs on the radio to the pornography that “pops up, unbidden, on the Internet,” none of us can escape the “implicit message that being sexy at all times is a female imperative.”
In Prude, Liebau argues convincingly that this message is corrosive and gross, not least because it pressures girls to become sexually active at ever-younger ages. In her view, “girls between twelve and seventeen are, quite simply, too young to be engaging in sexual activity,” and “even those who are ready physically aren’t equipped for the intense feelings that accompany sexual relationships, or the psychological and emotional aftermath,” especially if pregnancy, abortion, or STDs ensue. While some readers may disagree with Liebau’s ideas about the ideal age of consent, teens will certainly benefit from her persuasive arguments about why it’s better to wait.
Given Prude’s usefulness, it’s unfortunate that Liebau tends to ignore realities that clash with the tenants of her argument. To give just one example, she uses a minor 2005 young-adult novel, Rainbow Party, and the Gossip Girl book series to illustrate youth culture’s moral bankruptcy, conveniently ignoring the other bestsellers among teen readers. They are the Harry Potter series, the Pretties/Uglies/Specials series, and Twilight series, all of which are serious and thoughtful rather than sensational or overtly sexual. Similar distortions elsewhere suggest that while Liebau cares deeply about America and its girls, she has an agenda to push. In her perfect world, sex would not occur between unmarried men and women or, presumably, between members of the same sex. In other words, in the name of chastity, Liebau may be after some cherished liberties.