Daughters In Danger: Helping Our Girls Thrive In Today’s Culture, by Elayne Bennett
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
This is the kind of book that it may seem somewhat ironic in the eyes of some that I would read such a work, given that some parents imagine me to be a threat to their daughters; nevertheless, this is an important book about a very worthwhile subject that deserves to be read by those who are concerned about the well-being of our daughters in mind, body, heart, and spirit. As I happen to be deeply concerned about the well-being of young women, having many friends and acquaintances who are in middle school, high school, or college, despite the fact that I have no wife or daughter or sister or even girlfriend to be concerned about, I was intrigued to see what this book had to say about young women and what can be done by them and for them to encourage them to grow up to be godly women protected from the worst evils of this world as best as possible.
By and large, this book, which was written by the wife of former Secretary of Education William Bennett , makes several predictable but no less valid points. It is at least obvious in its political worldview, pointing out the harm to young women caused by our liberal and progressive culture, which sees the safety and well-being of young women as secondary to political agendas (which would include the silence in the face of radical Islam’s barbaric view of women and the harm that permissive sex and abortion cause to women ), and also seeking to bolster the authority and confidence of parents to regulate the lives of their children (something which I understandably have some mixed feelings about, personally). Overall, this book is a well-researched and rather meticulously cited book dealing with the conservative side of our culture wars, showing the practical action that young women as well as their peers, parents, brothers, other relatives, coaches, friends, school administrators, and others can take to help encourage the women in our lives to be the best they can be and to be strong in the face of a corrupt and exploitative culture that leaves young women adrift without a moral anchor, often without intact families, and with extreme pressures to sacrifice their virtue and honor for the use of the men around them.
This is not a perfect book. For example, the book spends a bit too much time promoting a specific group of organizations (Best Friends, Best Men, and Diamond Girls) whose federal funding was cut for political reasons by President Obama, which the book only tells us a few dozen times or so in the course of touting its effectiveness in promoting educational achievement, prevention of bullying and absenteeism and teen sexuality. It is clear, therefore, that this book definitely comes with a political edge that is sometimes a bit unseemly and even petty. There is one other, more delicate and personal, difficulty that I had with this book, or rather, a set of related personal difficulties. For one, this book seemed to imply that older guys were necessarily agents of moral corruption, which I found rather unfair personally. For another, this book seemed to focus greatly on the value of intact families and on bolstering the authority of parents (which is admittedly under attack in this society) and commented on the dangers that boyfriends and the boyfriends of single mothers (as well as stepfathers) have for young women but don’t comment that sometimes the people most dangerous to their children are their parents. It would appear that this author shares with her political adversaries a certain tendency to focus on those aspects of reality that most closely support their worldview, even if the truth shades far more to one side than another in this particular aspect of the culture wars.
Despite the flaws of this book, though, this book is an important one to read for the well-being of young women (and, to a surprising extent, young men). This book wisely understands that the task of protecting and encouraging young women is a task that requires paying attention to a much broader context that includes resistance against our corrupt and demented contemporary culture, encouragement to young women so that they see themselves appreciated for more than physical beauty but also for their strength of character and simply for being one of God’s children, as well as training men and other women to treat women with respect and honor rather than exploitation and physical and emotional bullying. Arresting the decline of our society in its honor and respect (towards both women and men) is a tall order, but it is a worthwhile task for us all to seek to apply in our own example, and if this book encourages boys and girls and men and women to do so, it will have succeeded at its most fundamental and noble purpose. The stories included in this book include room for a great deal of concern as well as some hope. Let us hope and not despair, and seek to make life a lot easier on young women who deserve a far better world than we have given them to grow up in.
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