ABSTRACT

This chapter investigates the construction of U.S. girls offered in two 2016 trade books: Peggy Orenstein’s Girls & sex and Nancy Jo Sales’ American girls. At the time of their publication, these two books were the most recent in a long line of trade books purporting to shed light on the difficulties faced by U.S. girls at a given point in time. Interestingly, the two books cover similar territory—the role of technology (including online pornography, sexting, dating apps, and so on) in sexualizing girls. Apart from some differences in organizational/writing style, these journalist authors have, for all intents and purposes, written the same book, one that could easily have been published with the mash-up title American girls and sex. This chapter begins by tracing the evolution of trade books about girls published over the past two decades. Then, informed by the literature analyzing the culture’s sexualization discourse, this chapter analyzes how Orenstein and Sales work to construct some girls’ bodies as problems, and the solutions these authors offer to adults to save these girls.