*Sorry to be MIA. Yesterday we ran into an emergency, which tossed all thoughts of hitting ‘publish’ aside. So here is the post I meant to put up yesterday, but didn’t.
Sometimes a potential post has to do everything short of smacking you upside the head before you write it. Today’s topic, for example, has been poking me for the past week, and finally bitch slapped me last night.
Let me preface this post by stating what most of you already know – I am not a parent. However, many of you are. And some of you are parents to teen or preteen daughters. I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the state of young girls today.
For whatever reason, the topic of youth is one that keeps coming up repeatedly in my world. Specifically, young girls. It started when my husband and I were discussing teen pregnancy, and the fact that, though we grew up in different states, both us lived in areas with high numbers of teen pregnancies. A couple days later we had cocktails with some friends. They have two teenage daughters, and from what I can tell, the girls are pretty awesome and unaffected. No sweatpants with juicy written across the ass for these two, and they genuinely seem to love spending time with their family. That’s a bit of a rarity. Personally, when I was a teen I completely tuned out my folks, and I see kids do it all the time.
Last night I read a brief article discussing Caitlin Flanagan’s new collection of essays, Girl Land, which examines girls growing up today (If you are familiar with Flanagan’s work, then you know she has raised ire in feminist circles. Many feel she writes with a sense of superiority and also that she’s a big ole hypocrite, because she works from home and has a nanny – I haven’t read enough of her work to know if she’s a hypocrite or not).
The author of the article about Girl Land, however, is another writer, Cathi Hanauer. I’m not saying I agree with Flanagan’s work, but I do disagree with Hanauer. She writes that she doesn’t feel American girls growing up today have it worse than women of previous generations. With all due respect, Mrs. Hanauer, are you freaking serious?
Yes, girls today are coming of age with the right to vote, in theory have equality in the workplace, access to birth control (sort of, I don’t necessarily think Hanauer is right on that one – there are many things to factor into access, like the city/state a girl resides in, etc.). But you know what? So did I. And I can guaran-damn-tee I did not have nearly as many things going on in my world as youngins today.
Here were the issues when I was in junior high/ high school in Texas:
- mouthing off
- teen pregnancy
My husband grew up in Northern California, and he went to Catholic school, so he had all the same issues, plus daily Mass. Speaking for myself, I participated in all the above, with the exception of getting pregnant (I’m not saying that was an accomplishment, more like sheer dumb luck. And for the record, I knew some girls that got knocked up in high school, and over the years have had friends that had one or more kids when they themselves were teens. All of them love their children and would never change a thing, but every single one of them would tell you it was hard, and that they wouldn’t suggest it to anyone). Eventually I turned out okay, but Lord help my folks had I also had a cellphone and Myspace account at the time.
Kids today have to deal with all the above issues, plus so many more. The internet, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, texting. I mean, come on, these are not things we had as kids. Of all the stupid things I did as a teen, thankfully it didn’t include sending naked photos of myself to my boyfriend via text message. The word sexting was nonexistent in the 90s. Hell, I remember I thought I was ballin’ when my parents, out of utter frustration with not being able to make phone calls, finally sprung for a second phone line.
And please, do not get me started on reality shows and plastic surgery, both of which are as common as hiccups nowadays. I have no issue whatsoever with any adult choosing to have a nip and tuck, but teen girls wanting to change their still developing bodies and faces is ridiculous. So, yeah, I’m going to have to say it is harder to come of age today. It was hard enough when I was growing up. Now, I won’t go so far as to say gee, I’m so thankful I grew up before technology vomited all over us. I mean, I would never dream of doing it again, or being a kid in the world as it is today, but it would have been nice if someone had told me to wear sunscreen and stay the hell out of tanning beds (actually, my dad did tell me that, I just didn’t listen. Oh well).
Most of what I’ve written in this post pertains to young females, but I don’t think it’s much easier for guys. They have all the same stimulation thrown at them as girls. I just don’t think I can speak on that one with much authority, since I don’t have that equipment, a son, or a brother. So if you’re a guy or have a son and you’d like to add something, I would love to hear your thoughts too. Also, I won’t go into the parenting aspect of all this, not just because I am not one, but also because I really believe that short of moving your kids to a remote mountaintop, you simply cannot shield them from everything.