DAUGHTERS OF CHANGE: Growing Up Female in America by Janet Chase

DAUGHTERS OF CHANGE: Growing Up Female in America

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An empty sort of book that keeps pointing to a genuine gap: the difference between what our various liberations point up for our daughters (particularly in the area of personal opportunity) and the degree to which we bind them to those liberations (mustn't be a housewife like mom, should be sexually liberated without experimenting as a teenager). The result of all the confusion, we are told, is skyrocketing pregnancy, suicide, alcohol and drug addiction, and even anorexia nervosa: the ultimate attempt to deny the pressures of adulthood by forcing one's figure not to blossom. The specter of mom trying to live through her daughter--which leads to the child's suspicion that she is not wanted for her-seìf--is indeed a disturbing one; but there's little clue to an antidote here, simply a constant reiteration of the problem (unless recognition is seen as a solution). Some related--but never quite in-focus--observations, then: girls who engage in sex during adolescence tend to have lower self-esteem than either girls who do not or boys who do; in fact, there is evidence that girls are still ""doing it"" to please their boyfriends. And they don't take contraception along on a date, because that's tantamount to destroying both spontaneity and the illusion that they're succumbing to sudden passion (hence not responsible for the presumed transgression). Speculation is that teenage girls are turning more and more to alcohol and drug abuse as a means of becoming more ""masculine,"" of exploring a role that is not as cut-and-dried as their foremothers' roles. But if you examine any adolescent trouble spot, you can find role-definition problems at the root: that's the essence of adolescence. And no doubt everything was simpler when men and women had rigidly defined roles to cling to. But this observation is hardly worth an entire book on the subject--the statistical ballast notwithstanding.

Pub Date: Aug. 31st, 1981
Publisher: Little, Brown