Dawn Eden quite literally bares her soul in The Thrill of the Chaste to show by personal experience that "Sex and the City" feminism doesn't work nor does it produce happiness. What makes her "everyone's second favorite scary conservative Catholic" (according to Gawker.com) is that her book is the heat-seeking missile of reality smashing full-speed into the delusion of casual sex as fulfillment.
Dawn is brutally honest in the book about her history and the effect it has had on her life. Usually the cliché word used to describe such books is "refreshing." In this case, the better word is "disquieting" because it directly challenged deeply ingrained notions about sex and dating. It exposes "Sex and the City" feminism for responding to misogyny with misandry. Unintentional misandry perhaps but misandry nonetheless.
As a defense of Christian chastity, it pulls no punches. For the sake of discussion on issues of sex, Christians have been at a disadvantage for decades against the free sex crowd. For instance, certain feminists like to brag that we can "finally have a discussion about the female orgasm." Christians aren't beyond such discussions, they simply believe that those discussions take place between husband and wife and see no need to air the conjugal laundry in public.
That said, by not discussing sex in open yet modest terms, Christian sexual ethics have become quickly discarded and not part of the debate. Arguments like "because God say so" don't work in a room full of adults. Dawn, by bringing in personal detail, not only displays great courage but provides powerful refutation to cherished sexual notions that do far more harm to women than they have ever done good. Sex and the City feminism has made it all but impossible for men and women to relate to each other as people. Women enter the "dating world" without the tools to have a relationship aside from the one in the bedroom. There is a lot of talk and dating advice about people as "sexual beings" as if that was the only aspect of their humanity.
If Christianity ever expects to win people over to a Christian sexual ethic, it must answer in no unclear terms without being pornographic. Many have responded to this balancing act by simply avoiding the debate altogether. The result is many more women and men who have been harmed because they simply know no different.
The central point of the book is vulnerability. In order to have any real relationship, one must be vulnerable to hurt. In a society that values feelgoodism, this idea is anathema. However, by not only advocating vulnerability but demonstrating it in the book, she displays not only great courage but great integrity. Advocating what you yourself would not do is hypocrisy. Many of the children dressed up in adult's skin in today's world likely giggled at the more personal details of the book, but likely many more will be won over by the Dawn's candor. In that way, the book is nothing short of heroic.
The book itself was written as a woman to other women, so in a sense it seems to exclude men. The wreckage of sexual pathology left in the wake of the sexual revolution has incapacitated men just as much as women in the area of romantic relationships and such books hold great value for men who want to understand what the mindset is of the women they try and meet and date. However, reading this book has made me keenly aware that no counterpart from the male perspective is out there and that this is a great oversight of tragic proportions.
The book bills itself on a new sexual revolution built around chastity. This isn't entirely accurate. The book is a relationship revolution that tries to detach sex as the solitary component in male-female relationships. For those about to enter the dating scene or those who are dissatisfied with the "meet" market, this book is a must-read.
John Bambenek is the Assistant Politics Editor for Blogcritics and is an academic professional for the University of Illinois. He is a syndicated columnist who blogs at Part-Time Pundit and the executive director of The Tumaini Foundation which helps AIDS orphans and other children in Tanzania to get an education. He is the current owner of BlogSoldiers, a blog-only traffic exchange.