Thursday, February 22, 2007

National Review gets The Thrill

"The right-wing anti-sex polemic is a seriously tired genre. Its Reefer Madness tone tends to inspire doubt that its authors have any idea what they are talking about; it attracts critical mirth (e.g., 'This essay must have been even better in the original Arabic!'); and, in the end, it does more harm than good to the cause of those of us who believe that today's hypersexualization is a sign no longer of personal liberation but of America's protracted cultural immaturity. All the more praise, then, to New York journalist Dawn Eden, who has produced a book called The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On (W, 224 pp., $13.99 &8212; an intelligent, culturally aware, and (not least important) highly entertaining account of how one woman was able to break free of a culture of sexual objectification.

"The author makes a strong case for the traditional moral position of eschewing sex before marriage. But her book should not, on that account, be avoided by the very large audience of those who view that position skeptically. Indeed, her book may have more to teach them than it does those who already have leanings toward the traditional point of view. Dawn Eden reminds us forcefully that our happiness does not, in fact, lie in the cycle of sexual gratifications, or in being a "winner" in the manhunting/womanhunting game; it consists of a life of love and respect for others, whether one is married or single. An analogy to temperance literature suggests itself: When you start asking yourself, 'Why do I drink so much?' you may not end up being a teetotaler, but you will be wiser about who you really are - and what hole you are really trying to fill with that third martini."

— Books editor Michael Potemra, from his "Shelf Life" column in the March 5 edition of National Review (online for subscribers only)

Buy The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On at