by Krystle Gabele
January 26, 2012
Caitlin Flanagan recently released a new book, Girl Land, which takes a look at the world of todays adolescent girls and the issues they are facing. Of course, Flanagan has again enraged feminists everywhere with her perspective.
In Girl Land, Flanagan looks at how culture has changed over time and how it has become focused on viewing girls as sexual objects and denying them the privacy, daydreams, and crushes that normal girlhood provides. In other words, they are losing their sense of self.
However, Girl Land is also drawing some criticism from those who might agree with Flanagans point of view. In a recent RealClearBooks op-ed by Heather Wilhelm, Girl Land received some criticism as painting things too broadly. Wilhelm brings up a great point that this book fosters ambiguity toward men, as well as making excuses for the boys will be boys mentality.
On one hand, Flanagan seems to buy into the all men are predators narrative, speaking of the pervy uncle and the drunk father hitting on the babysitter as if they are prototypes, not anomalies. Perhaps this stems from an assault Flanagan endured when she was younger, which she details in the book. But its an odd quirk, particularly in a girl culture better represented by the aggressive, love-struck babysitter in Crazy, Stupid, Love (in the movie, she harasses her charges clueless father, leading to mortifying results) than anything else.
But then, on the other hand, Girl Land exhibits a strange sense of boys will be boys that excuses even the crassest behavior. If I were to learn that my children had engaged in oral sex outside a romantic relationship, and as young adolescents I would be sad, Flanagan writes. But I wouldnt think that they had been damaged by the experience; I wouldnt think I had failed catastrophically as a mother, or that they would need therapy. Because I dont have daughters, I have sons.”
Wilhelm also argues that girls are facing a society that promotes promiscuity over abstinence. Girl Land did not mention anything about respect for this critical moral choice.
Kids need to know how their behaviors will impact them in the long run, and the implications of not making the right choices behaviorally. Shouldn’t Girl Land be focused on holding both sons and daughters to high moral standards? Our society needs these standards now more than ever.