Fifty years after the sexual revolution, we are told that we live in a time of unprecedented sexual freedom; that if anything, we are too free now. But beneath the veneer of glossy hedonism, millennial journalist Rachel Hills argues that we are controlled by a new brand of sexual convention: one which influences all of us—woman or man, straight or gay, liberal or conservative. At the root of this silent code lies the Sex Myth—the defining significance we invest in sexuality that once meant we were dirty if we did have sex, and now means we are defective if we don’t do it enough.
~ The Sex Myth, by Rachel Hills
When I was in high school I hated not having a boyfriend. To get my mind off my relationship woes, I imagined what life would be like for me in college. I figured I’d have a huge sexual awakening, that boys would be fawning all over me and I would have a new boy every weekend. The boys in my high school were just too dumb to pursue the smart, quiet girl from the drama club, right? I didn’t have my first kiss until the day before my first college class. After that first kiss I thought, “Here we go. It’s only going to go up from here.” Never mind the fact it was a horrible kiss and I didn’t really like the guy at all, I just wanted to get my first kiss over with. I thought I was a huge loser for never having a boyfriend in high school, and if people knew I hadn’t ever been kissed either, I was convinced I would be branded a pariah.
Rachel Hills’ new book The Sex Myth explores the insecurities and pressures we all feel to have a “normal” sex life. But what exactly is “normal?” Hills spent years researching the social factors that impact our sexual desires and actions. Decades after the sexual revolution, many young people feel like they’re not having enough sex because of the way sex is thrown at us in movies, TV and all other aspects of pop culture. Yet despite the fact that many of us feel sexually inadequate, slut shaming and religious institutions actively shame young people – especially young women – for pursuing sex.
This oxymoron is what Hills calls “The Sex Myth.” It impacts our daily lives: what we wear, how we present ourselves and the social lives we seek out. We make certain decisions in order to look desirable to the people we want to have sex with. The Sex Myth is a great read because it’s not only informative, but it’s very easy-to-read. A lot of research went into the book (seven years and over 200 interviews, to be exact), but it doesn’t at all read like an academic text. When you read it you feel like you’re having a casual conversation with the author – and Hills is the perfect author to have this conversation with.
The Sex Myth will make you question the way you think about sex. For me personally, it made me realize that my sex life might look sporadic and “pathetic” compared to “Sex and the City,” but it’s mine and I would never want a sex life like Samantha’s anyway. I never did have that crazy college sex life that I’d dreamed of. I hooked up with guys here and there, but I certainly didn’t have a new boy every weekend. I guess you could say I did have a “sexual awakening,” but it wasn’t as wild as it looks like in the movies – and that’s fine with me. I’m not going to let the Sex Myth control my life, and neither should you.