Sex and the Soul : Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses
Today's college students are fascinated by religion but they are also more sexually active than previous generations. How do these young people reconcile their spiritual longings with sexual freedom on campus?
Based on dozens of face-to-face interviews, Sex and the Soul explores the sexual and spiritual lives of today's college students. Donna Freitas crisscrossed the country, visiting a range of America's colleges and universities--from public to private, Catholic to evangelical--to find out what students had to say about these highly personal subjects. Their stories will not only engage readers, but, in many cases, move them with the painful struggles these candid young women and men face. Indeed, the book uncovers aspects of college life that may unsettle some readers, especially parents. Many campuses, for instance, are dominated by the hook-up culture of casual sex. Moreover, a surprising number of students see little connection between sex and religion. Indeed, these observations hold true even at Catholic schools. Only at evangelical colleges is religion an important factor when deciding whether or not to engage in sex. But Freitas's research also reveals that, even at secular schools, students are not comfortable with the prevalence of casual sex, and that they do want religion to speak about what they should do and who they should try to be--not just what they should avoid doing.
Sex and the Soul will offer readers the chance to hear college students speaking honestly about extremely sensitive topics, in a book that will be of great interest to students, parents, clergy, teachers, and anyone who wants to know what's happening on today's college campuses.
Boston University professor Freitas (also an occasional contributor to PW) explores college students' spiritual and sexual lives in this fascinating, disturbing book. With the exception of evangelical collegians, who are still gunning for marriage and trying to remain chaste until then, almost all of the young people Freitas interviewed were engaged in hookup culture, often exploring their sexuality with near strangers in the hopes of eventually finding someone to date. And with the exception of evangelical students, who allow their religious views to permeate all life choices, including sexual boundaries, most college students don't see much connection between their sexual behavior--which, in candid interviews, they often regret--and their spirituality, which is important to them. Freitas's tone is engaging and her writing persuasive. Of particular interest is her gender analysis of evangelical purity concepts, which expect young women to be chaste but passive as they wait for Prince Charming. Even more disturbing, the theme parties prevalent in hypersexualized hookup culture (in which young women may dress up as whores, maids or schoolgirls while their male counterparts are powerful CEOs, millionaires or professors) also place all the power in the hands of men. Freitas's work chronicles a poignant spiritual loss that students themselves articulate and mourn. (Apr.)
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Oxford University Press, Incorporated
April 10, 2008
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