Meet the liberated college woman. You may pity her.
"Unprotected" is a hard slap at the sexual free-for-all that prevails on American campuses and throughout American life. The author, revealed since publication as Dr. Miriam Grossman, a psychiatrist at the student health service at UCLA, was hesitant to put her name on this book. The orthodoxy within the academic world is a strict one, and those who transgress often pay with their jobs. Let's hope for her sake, but particularly for her patients' well being, that she is not punished for her heterodox views.
What does Dr. Grossman believe that is so dangerous to admit? Well, start with ordinary sex. She believes that casual, promiscuous sex is tough on many women. They are hard-wired to bond with those they have sex with (the hormone oxytocin is implicated), and she sees countless female students reporting stress, eating disorders and even depression for reasons they cannot understand. After all, the world sells them on the notion that sex is pure recreation, that the "hook-up" culture is natural and even empowering to women, and that love and sex are two completely different things.
She describes a 19-year-old, "Heather," who is depressed. She has a "friend with benefits," but only with the help of psychotherapy is she able to acknowledge that the relationship is causing her pain. She'd like to do things with him, like see movies or go out for dinner, but he is interested only in sex. Dr. Grossman helps Heather to see that her needs are being neglected.
Another student, "Olivia," is devastated after her first serious boyfriend breaks up with her. Her grades suffer, she weeps constantly and suffers a relapse of an eating disorder, making herself vomit up to six times a day. "'Why, doctor,' she asked, why do they tell you how to protect your body -- from herpes and pregnancy -- but they don't tell you what it does to your heart?'"