Riley Wick ’20 News Reporter
New York Times bestselling author Peggy Orenstein will be joining Mercersburg Academy, for the second time, to speak about gender issues. Four-year seniors remember her last visit during their freshman year, but this will be the first experience with Orenstein for majority of the student body.
Her previous visit followed the publication of one of her most popular books, Girls & Sex, which focused on several important subjects including girls’ sexual pleasure and self-worth. The book was a tremendous success and led her to write a corresponding sequel, Boys & Sex.
About the new book Orenstein said, “I never even thought about tackling a book that wasn’t about girls, because it was out of my comfort zone, but we don’t necessarily have the luxury of avoiding the conversation. If we want young men to grow up and have loving, healthy relationships, then we need to educate them first.” So, the book addresses accepting emotions, dealing with toxic masculinity in our society, and navigating relationships.
Orenstein’s return is perfectly timed, with this year being the fiftieth year of coeducation at Mercersburg Academy. Davis Anderson ’20 spoke at Mercersburg’s Celebration of 50 Years of Coeducation in New York City and stated, “It’s hard for most young men to find their place in this world of feminism.”
Ornstein’s goal is to help young boys and growing men find their place, a place where they can support women, be vulnerable, and experience emotions simultaneously. Ornstein will also address the young women on campus, providing guidance as they continue on their journeys beyond Mercersburg.
Talking about sex is not easy, and it’s important to address the underlying stigma surrounding the topic. However, this is exactly why it is so important. Mercersburg is challenging its students to push themselves out of their comfort zones, and Peggy Oldstein’s visit is just another example.
Zoe Gooch ’20 commented, “I loved her [first] talk. At the time that she came, I hadn’t read her book yet, which was actually okay because it pushed me to think more about how I should educate myself. I already knew a lot about what she was saying but I know she definitely opened some of my friend’s eyes to a lot of things they never would’ve been exposed to.”
Orenstein’s visit will definitely be a challenging experience. More importantly, however, it will be a learning experience.