Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses

Oxford University Press
4
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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 pervasiveness of hook-up culture. Moreover, many students see little connection between sex and religion, even as they seek one between sex and spirituality. 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 a culture of casual sex, and that they do want spirituality, at least, if not also 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. Named one of the Best Religion Books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly "Fascinating, disturbing...engaging...persuasive.... Freitas's work chronicles a poignant spiritual loss that students themselves articulate and mourn." --Publishers Weekly "Candid, disturbing, yet ultimately hopeful....Throughout this beautifully written book, Freitas presents students' feelings and experiences in an unflinching yet compassionate way. You care about these young people and their struggles. This book is a great service to students, parents, and those at colleges and universities who want to prepare young adults not just for the workplace but for healthy and fulfilling lives." --Christian Science Monitor
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About the author

Donna Freitas is Associate Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, and Writer in Residence at Hofstra's Honors College.. A regular contributor to Publishers Weekly, she has also written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Christianity Today, and she has frequently lectured on Sex and the Soul at colleges and universities all over the country since its publication.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Apr 11, 2008
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Pages
328
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ISBN
9780199741236
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Language
English
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Genres
Religion / Christian Education / General
Religion / Sexuality & Gender Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Hookup culture dominates the lives of college students today. Most students spend hours agonizing over their hopes for Friday night and, later, dissecting the evenings' successes or failures, often wishing that the social contract of the hookup would allow them to ask for more out of sexual intimacy. The pressure to participate comes from all directions—from peers, the media, and even parents. But how do these expectations affect students themselves? And why aren't parents and universities helping students make better-informed decisions about sex and relationships?

In The End of Sex, Donna Freitas draws on her own extensive research to reveal what young men and women really want when it comes to sex and romance. Surveying thousands of college students and conducting extensive one-on-one interviews at religious, secular public, and secular private schools, Freitas discovered that many students—men and women alike—are deeply unhappy with hookup culture. Meaningless hookups have led them to associate sexuality with ambivalence, boredom, isolation, and loneliness, yet they tend to accept hooking up as an unavoidable part of college life. Freitas argues that, until students realize that there are many avenues that lead to sex and long-term relationships, the vast majority will continue to miss out on the romance, intimacy, and satisfying sex they deserve.

An honest, sympathetic portrait of the challenges of young adulthood, The End of Sex will strike a chord with undergraduates, parents, and faculty members who feel that students deserve more than an endless cycle of boozy one night stands. Freitas offers a refreshing take on this charged topic—and a solution that depends not on premarital abstinence or unfettered sexuality, but rather a healthy path between the two.
Sexting. Cyberbullying. Narcissism. Social media has become the dominant force in young people's lives, and each day seems to bring another shocking tale of private pictures getting into the wrong hands, or a lament that young people feel compelled to share their each and every thought with the entire world. Have smartphones and social media created a generation of self-obsessed egomaniacs? Absolutely not, Donna Freitas argues in this provocative book. And, she says, these alarmist fears are drawing attention away from the real issues that young adults are facing. Drawing on a large-scale survey and interviews with students on thirteen college campuses, Freitas finds that what young people are overwhelmingly concerned with--what they really want to talk about--is happiness. They face enormous pressure to look perfect online--not just happy, but blissful, ecstatic, and fabulously successful. Unable to achieve this impossible standard, they are anxious about letting the less-than-perfect parts of themselves become public. Far from wanting to share everything, they are brutally selective when it comes to curating their personal profiles, and worry obsessively that they might unwittingly post something that could come back to haunt them later in life. Through candid conversations with young people from diverse backgrounds, Freitas reveals how even the most well-adjusted individuals can be stricken by self-doubt when they compare their experiences with the vast collective utopia that they see online. And sometimes, as on anonymous platforms like Yik Yak, what they see instead is a depressing cesspool of racism and misogyny. Yet young people are also extremely attached to their smartphones and apps, which sometimes bring them great pleasure. It is very much a love-hate relationship. While much of the public's attention has been focused on headline-grabbing stories, the everyday struggles and joys of young people have remained under the radar. Freitas brings their feelings to the fore, in the words of young people themselves. The Happiness Effect is an eye-opening window into their first-hand experiences of social media and its impact on them.
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