GIRL LAND by Caitlin Flanagan


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Flanagan (To Hell with All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife, 2006) argues that society “has let its girls down in every possible way” by failing to protect them against sexual exploitation.

The author claims that parents who impose protective limits on their daughters are not shortchanging them by treating them differently than sons—especially because we are living in a media and marketing-driven culture that is “openly contemptuous of girls and young women.” Flanagan points to the inherently different ways that females experience the onset of adulthood: menstruation, which raises the dangers associated with pregnancy as well as the promise of motherhood; the lurking possibility of date-rape as well as the opportunity for sexual fulfillment; and more. In her opinion, today's pornography-saturated culture devalues intimacy and threatens a young woman's sense of identity as she deals with her vulnerable emerging sexuality. While in the past a girl might retreat to her room to entrust her secret fantasies to a diary, today she is more likely to be online, reporting them to the world on Facebook or Twitter. The author trolls through the pages of Seventeen, uncovering evidence of how growing up has been transformed since the end of World War I. She takes the prom as a benchmark. From a dance celebrating high-school graduation, it has gradually morphed into a costly formal event almost on par with a wedding, with formal dress and a strict code of behavior. Today, the chaperoned prom is often followed by another party, with heavy drinking and, often, sexual exploitation or abuse.

A compelling, convincing case for more parental involvement in girls’ lives.

Pub Date: Jan. 12th, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-316-06598-6
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Reagan Arthur/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2011


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