I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Girls Gone Mild

Girl's Our Whole Lives class starts tomorrow. Hogwarts afficionado that she is; she has taken to referring to the class as her O.W.L.'s. The state of Arizona has punted on sex ed altogether, so I look to this class to innoculate my dear fifth grader in the dreaded Reviving Ophelia years to come.

Speaking of which, I am pleased to note that we as a nation seem to have entered a second level of discussion about spring break and the "Girls Gone Wild" culture. I'd say that the first wave of objections was mostly practical -- along the lines of "If you've got it/ You're only young once," but warning about excess, e.g.
"Carry protection!"
"Have a designated driver!"
"Consider the impact of the MySpace posts of today on the doctoral program applications of tomorrow." Which is all very well, as far as it goes.

But with articles such as "Raunch is Rebranded as 'Confidence'" we might finally be talking about what spring break culture is doing to our psyches (or, if you like, our souls). Which is crucially important for me as a mom trying to raise a confident, kick-*ss daughter. And son. Who take (calculated) risks, make (redeemable) mistakes, and get(curably) hurt. Who dive headlong into life (with a helmet).

The observation is this: Where once we played "Beach Blanket Bingo" our nation's youth are now binge drinking shots out of their butt cleavage and girl-on-girl jello wrestling. And they are talking about it in this language, this "Sex and the City" brand of frank, taboo-shattering raunch and it's a language of power and choices and not being a victim. So, what to make of it?

I have to admit that in theory I can see where it's seductive. In college, I posed nude for art classes, which I found "empowering" despite evidence that the subversiveness of the gesture may well have been lost on my horndog peers.

Seduction -- the theater of it; the accomplishment -- is thrilling. And why shouldn't it be? I must admit that I did experience my humble explorations on the subject as yeah, ok, I'll say confidence-building. I'll say a rite of passage. My hope for Girl -- and Jones -- is not that they grow up neutered of this power, but that they use their power for good.

This is in contrast to their daddy, who sees nothing in it but trouble; who, if he weren't such a gun control advocate, would be in the parlor cleaning his gun when the suitor comes to call.

But the reality of spring break really calls my bluff. All that Third Wave, Riot GRRRL stuff I may be on record as spouting in Women's Studies class about how anything goes as long as it's "chosen" seems meaningless when you hear these girls talk. I mean, there just is some new level of degradation going on here and it is not just because I have some kind of nostalgic delusion about my own chaste beach blanket summers.

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