I read Guyland about a month ago and found it to be an incredible book…and incredibly insightful.
It also got me thinking about girls and how there’s no equivalent book on the coming of age for young women. Which got me thinking further about how someone needs to write that book.
And then I put together my summer reading list…which served a dual purpose. For one, I wanted to delve further into gender issues and the coming of age of young women. The other is tied to the fact that I’ll be working in the university’s Counseling Center during the upcoming academic year and some of this reading was “professional” in nature. I’m working my way steadily through the list (which I included below), but found that, as I near the end of one book, I may need to switch gears on which one is next.
You see, I got a message from my seester in love this morning who is the mother of a 5 year old girl. She is a brilliant child and will likely be like her mother and I as young women: diabolically smart, a good sense of humor, a good sense of self, an independence streak 3,000 miles wide, and one to think for herself. She’s also a beautiful girl–which will probably cause a few friendly fights along the way. And she’s starting to ask about when she can get married, when she can get a romance book…and has had a few boyfriends at her montessori preschool. In many respects, those things are normal for girls her age. When I was her age, I remember telling my dad that I knew who I was going to marry when I grew up. When he asked me how that was going to be, I told him it was he. I’m sure he got a good chuckle out of that. And I know he became aware of his role as a father of a daughter–and how daughters learn a lot about relationships with other men from that very relationship. He has said on more than one occasion that dads are their daughters’ first dates.
What is scary, though, is this oversexing of girls–beginning waaayyy too early in life. And we all know it to be true. Even the New York Times has some comment…which is well worth the read.
And it brings me back to my book list and the book I want to write. Parents of girls are beginning to realize that we are socializing our girls differently–even from 15 years ago. And they don’t know what to do about it. They are wondering where and how to draw the line. They want to know how to appropriately protect their girls from–and expose them to–what the world includes and the expectations that are there. I don’t have the answers yet, but I’m collecting thoughts and ideas on what it might look like. For now, though, parents can’t go wrong with open, honest communication with their children (read: get REAL comfortable with sex and talking about it at various developmentally appropriate ages and stages) and letting their children experience natural consequences.
And if you have time to do some reading about all this, [before my book gets written ;)], here’s what’s on my list or what I’ve been reading:
Pledged by Alexandra Robbins
Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids by Alexandra Robbins
Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both by Laura Sessions Stepp
So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids Edited by Levin & Kilbourne
Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls by Rachel Simmons
Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman
Nurture Shock by Bronson and Merryman
*I have not yet read all of these–they are simply on my list because of their relevance. I’m almost finished with Pledged (which is a great look at sororities and girls’ varied experiences of them)
**Note: these are hyperlinked to Amazon.com not because I’m promoting the sale of anything but so you have easy access to descriptions and reviews of these books.