Premarital Sex in America by Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker (2011)

As part of the series on sexuality last semester, I read a lot of books related to gender and sexuality. One of the ones I really appreciated was Premarital Sex in America. In fact, I liked it so much that Campus Edge now has a copy of it (feel free to borrow it sometime!). This book was referenced several times by other books I had picked up on this topic and was also recommended to me by Matt Ackerman, a pastor at Campus Chapel in Ann Arbor (U of M).

The book does a great job of dispelling a lot of the assumptions that people have about who is having sex and who is not, as well as discussing the prevalence of hookup culture. Turns out that those who are in a long-term relationship are most likely having sex. Sadly enough, being single was a stronger determinant for being a virgin than being a Christian! At the same time, graduating college as a virgin or having had 1-2 partners is MUCH more common than what most people think (and definitely much more normal than the media portrays!).

Furthermore, hooking up is not as prevalent as one might expect (despite the recent odd mini-ebook publication by an MSU prof). The book even explains that the hookup culture that media (and others) plays up is actually tied to institutions that have a significant Greek culture, are located on the northeast coast(!) or require an unusually high (study) time commitment to succeed, and/or have significantly more women than men. Whether we like it or not, sex is tied both to social norms and to supply and demand: if someone assumes that everyone is having sex or that her (his?) partner can easily find someone else to have sex with, she/he is more likely to be willing to have sex.

It’s a good book to let students know that the media doesn’t portray the most accurate picture about sex. Surprisingly enough, good evangelical parents are also not the best source of information. More of these parents had premarital sex than we might expect, considering that most churches strongly preach abstinence before marriage. But who, besides those on the fringe of the evangelical movement (see the last chapter of Saving Sex), is really willing to talk about that?