Chapter Five, "Why We Get Boys Wrong: The Emotional Glass Ceiling" is even more bracing. "The stereotype that men are animals and will act like animals until a woman civilizes them is not only exploited by popular culture and the broader media. It's also the kind of rigid view of gender common to evangelical books that give advice about dating, purity, courtship, and marriage to teens and young adults. Much of this literature teaches young men that they are naturally sexual predators." Freitas advocates substituting another message: "acting like a guy" is not innate; it is a learned and destructive mode of being. Arming young men with that message can help them resist being warped by male stereotypes.
There is much in The End of Sex to applaud. Freitas has opened up a space where those she interviews feel free to say what they really think. We need to listen, especially when what is said isn't pretty. Freitas is in favor of helping young adults find the freedom to abstain from bad sex and figure out what good sex is. Amen. Those of us who think that good sex is not just romantic sex but covenantal sex will not think she's gone far enough. She stops short because she thinks covenantal sex is too difficult and too unpopular an ideal. Christians can agree that it is an ideal that may be impossible—but not apart from grace.
Caroline Simon is professor of philosophy and interim dean of social sciences at Hope College in Holland, Michigan. She is the author of Bringing Sex into Focus: The Quest for Sexual Integrity (InterVarsity Press).