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Caitlin Flanagan On Protecting Girlhood

Caitlin Flanagan says we need to take our daughters back to a more protected childhood. Critics are fuming. We’ll dive in.

Girl Land cover from Hachette Books.

Girl Land cover from Hachette Books.

Caitlin Flanagan knows how to put a stick in the beehive of working moms and women’s movement champions.  She’s gone after professional women.  Now she’s going after – to save it, she says – contemporary girlhood.  In particular, girls’ adolescence.  The passage out of childhood.

She calls it “girl land”, and she says we’ve trashed it with rushed sexualization and Internet porn and overexposure just when girls need cozy, dreamy days with their diaries.

This hour, On Point:  American girls, adolescence, and a call to go back to a more protected, innocent girlhood.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Caitlin Flanagan, a writer and social critic, her new book is “Girl Land.” A contributing editor and book reviewer at The Atlantic Monthly and former staff writer for The New Yorker. She is also author of the book To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife.

Irin Carmon, staff writer at Salon and former reporter for the women’s online magazine Jezebel. You can find her review of Girl Land here.

From Tom’s Reading List

Elle Magazine “Caitlin Flanagan’s debut collection, To Hell With All That: Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife (2006), lit up the work-life-balance debate with essays on everything from wives who don’t want sex to what children gain when their mothers don’t work. She was pilloried as, alternately, an elitist and a hypocrite (she worked from home and had a nanny for her kids), but she wrote with eloquence, intelligence, and flair.”

Kirkus “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.”

New York Times “This time, in “Girl Land,” she takes a more sustained look at girls as they leave childhood and head into the treacherous passage of adolescence.”

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  • mary_80

    I would say Not exactly protecting girlhood, as much as rolling back the sexuality away from Toddler and Tiaras age until they are at least – - oh say 15 … 

  • AC

    shouldn’t she just say ‘childhood’? thinking of all the recent coaching scandals & abuse towards young males as well….i’ll have to read the book at some point, i’m confused by what she’s trying to do…..

    • Anonymous

      Yes, this sexual socialization affect boys and men, too. I believe her point is that the objectification of women as  sexual objects screws girls up. It certainly messes up boys and men.

      In a way these recent scandals are a good thing; It’s revealed the secret that boys and men can also be victims of sexual abuse and that is something we’ve (society) denied. It’s vitally important that we (again, society) understand the nature of sexual abuse so that we can prevent it and treat it when it happens. Unfortunately, it happens a lot more often, and to boys as often as girls, than we would like to believe.

  • Jessy in Atlanta

    Tom I believe we need to protect childhood for both boys and girls.  To do this though takes a village. For my family I’ve chosen to start with a Waldorf education.  I wish you would do a show on the Waldorf way of educating. It is wonderful and fascinating.Here’s a link if you’re interested: http://www.whywaldorfworks.org

    • http://www.maryjones.us tlachtga

      Yeah, that’s awesome–if you can afford it. Many of us can’t.

      • Guest

        That’s the point! If you can not afford to have children; then DON’T. I chose to have ONE SON and that’s exactly what I did. There is a way, if you know it.

        In 1978, his tuition cost me $350 per month and it went up from there. My grandson’s education is costing $1000 per month. That’s our responsibility.

        The responsibility of parents is to do the JOB of raising their children. Public schools are NOT doing the job.

        • http://www.maryjones.us tlachtga

          Well, I can see where your politics lie; those of us outside Galt Gulch will do fine without you.

    • Wl_fu

      You don’t have to send your children to Waldorf school in order to benefit from it.  There are many books on Waldorf education in the public library (free!)  In fact, many of the Waldorf ideas are better done at home:
      ~ morning/evening/daily routine at home
      ~ celebrate the seasons
      ~ limit screen (TV/computer/game) time
      ~ encourage children to help do things around the house
      Yes, it will be interesting to do a show not just on Waldorf but other influential education approach like Montessori.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Waldorf education is an oxymoron.

      • Four Elements

        Mostly agree.

        My wife was business manager for a Waldorf School and I was a consultant there, and we both became disenchanted with the exclusiveness and lack of connection to the real world. There was a fuzzy warm new agey sweetness that set our teeth on edge. No matter where they are, the kids all create the same bland pastel inoffensive finger paints – creepy. Despite the admirable restrictions on some of the more obnoxious elements of modern culture, it seemed that the school was turning out smug children who thought they were exempt from the requirements of growing up and who all seemed to aspire to join the circus or be “artists.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    It seems to me commercialism in our wired economy inflicts sexuality widely, because sex sells.  Tell girls they have to be thin and wear makeup, and you’ve got customers.  Never mind that those same girls will someday find out that the male of the species is and has been, for millennia, attracted to young women with or without makeup, with or without the currently fashionable shape.  Consumerism has insinuated itself into adolescence more than I can easily imagine.  
        By the way, looking through the New York Times article, “Girl Land” encourages diary writing and imagination, time alone.  Each to her own, but when I was youngish, people of a mentorish bent were pushing imagination in the form of first the propelling “dream,” and then mysticism with its sensuous pulls.  To me, this is putting the cart before the horse.  First you need a life before you deploy the imagination.  First you observe, you perceive; then you put that into the casserole of sleep and see what you come up with.  Or you could.  But putting a girl alone with a diary may come up dry.  No wildly interesting defined island or attic, under historic death sentence, to be recorded on a daily basis?  What a failure of imagination.  Ann Frank was observing first, with rare ability to contextualize, but still.  
       To me, first put the girl in a functioning community, as broad as possible, in which she is as important as any of the other pieces.  If she is just marking time, a lady in waiting, what do you expect?  The emotions at that age can quite easily slip the reins.   Without that, well…

    • Lrawe

      That was my take too, that girls need to be taught about the commercialization of sex and how it sells.  That’s why most tv programs are aimed at 18-25 year old boys/men since they purchase the most stuff and sexual subjects provide the least expensive and widest demographic catch pool for advertisers.  Girls also need to be taught to value themselves and to not watch idiotic, reality shows like The Bachelor that do nothing but demean women in a bizarre dumbed-down male fantasy setup of “love and marriage” that is unhealthy for the men too.  Girls should also be reminded that they don’t have to wear makeup, follow the skinny jeans fashion trends, etc. because it is all again just handing money to someone else rather than showing your own individuality.

  • Heidinepveu

    Check out this link of a trailer of “Miss representation.” It’s a film re how women are portrayed in and by the media.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFh5F8cFb3g&sns=fb

    • Dh001g

      I would say reading Foucault’s writing on sexuality is also enlightening and fits with what the guest and the rest of us are getting at.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        You find Foucault enlightening?  His writing is mostly fog.

  • Anonymous

    How we as a society portray and expect girls and women to be and behave is detrimental to girls and boys; the blatant sexuality in so much advertising is a distorted image of what it means to be both a woman and a man that it leads us to believe that our sexuality is the most important thing about us.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    low self esteem sells – start with the marketers

  • Dh001g

    I am no prude. However, I am uncomfortable with how sex is used to sell everything. I think not just young girls but young boys need to be allowed to stay children longer before being rushed into adolesence. I don’t think there is a legal solution but culturally, even us who who consider ourselves liberals should demand standards from those who want to sell us stuff. We are in charge of shaping our own culture.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Self esteem–what foolishness.  Show me achievement, and I’ll show you a reason to feel good about yourself.  Otherwise, it’s just so much fluff.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      self esteem is feeling good and comfortable about yourself – I don’t know ho you would accomplish that without achievement. It’s not given, it’s worked for.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Exactly.  I had high school students tell me that I didn’t care about their self esteem, but at the same time, they refused to learn.  My point to them was that when they showed me a desire to learn, they wouldn’t have to worry about how they felt about themselves.

        • nicoise

          greg I agree that self esteem is linked to achievement but I also a think there is a similar link for a to “desire to learn” with being inspired to learn.   

          • nicoise

            forgive the typo “to”

      • Anonymous

        It’s also about believing you can achieve in the first place.

  • Tina

    If I were to write clearly, my comment would probably have to be flagged and taken down.  The sexual behaviors that have taken place on our local Middle School bus, over several years,  include what was one of THE MOST intimate of sexual behaviors between a grown man and woman in the past, but which is now (and since at least 1990) common place amongst Fifth to Seventh graders in a public setting like the school bus.  The kids’ response?  ”THAT’s not sex!!!”  Does their response, if not their behavior (which should!), convince anyone that these kids are way too young to understand what they’re doing?!!!!

  • Mike

    Pervasive sexuality in society is normal.  In many important respects, our sexuality is the most important thing about us.  Men and women are nature’s way of making more men and women.  The importance of sexuality will vary between individuals and will grow and diminish over the course of an individual lifetime, but it will remain a central aspect of society as a whole.

    • Anonymous

      I guess you’ve been brainwashed, too.

      Normal?! Yes, we’re sexual beings, but I don’t need/want to be hit over the head all day w/ stick-skinny women in their bra and panties.

      • Mike

        I don’t think that my appreciation of the female form is due to any brainwashing.  As for being “hit over the head all day w/ stick-skinny women in their bra and panties”, I don’t know what you’re talking about.  Maybe you watch too much TV, or peruse too many Victoria’s Secret catalogs.

        • Anonymous

          I don’t watch tv or peruse Victoria’s Secret or any of those women’s mags. However, next time you’re in line at the grocery store or walking by a shop w/ a window display, take a second to look at the way any woman in any ad is posing or dressed. Just try it for a day.

          Yes, the female form is beautiful, and women should be respected not sexualized and used to sell products.

          • Mike

            My town doesn’t seem to have those kinds of window displays, or maybe I just haven’t found them yet.  I go the grocery store about once a week, and can’t recall seeing much overt sexuality displayed apart from the magazine and tabloid covers.  None of the products I buy seem to feature scantily-clad women.  Either our experiences are very different, or I’m insufficiently sensitive to the pervasiveness of sexuality in the commercial realm to notice it.

    • Jemimah

      The key words here being “men and women,” not “boys and girls.”  Kids need to be allowed to be innocent for awhile.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    Children should be allowed to be children.  They grow up too soon for most parents, as it is. 
       Encouraging a child to ‘look adult’, and ‘act adult’ in a provocative manner, forces them to grow up WAY too fast, and deprives them of childhood!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Girls don’t need to be sheltered – they need to be taught and armed.

    • Anonymous

      Armed? Why?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        It’s likely a metaphorical term.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

          yes

    • Anonymous

      I wouldn’t mind sheltering girls from some things if parents actually stepped up and taught girls about how life really is.  But since that really doesn’t happen…  They shelter and skip the education leaving them more vulnerable at an older age when it’s harder to recover.

      • Niaman3

        True, it doesn’t happen alot, but it does happen. It is happening, just not in the same level as you have parents who aren’t parenting.
        Protect/Shelter with education and substitutes.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VE3XBS5FCHIBVYOWPMNAS26VKY Medina Gooden

      Children in general need to be sheltered (to an extent) and why you’re sheltering you can teach them how to guard themselves and proctect themselves. Truth be told if we teach our girls and leave boys to the wind then progress with be sold, if we do both at the same time, we can flip it.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    As much two hundred years ago, wouldn’t most of these children have been married and working by this age?

    • Anonymous

      Yes; going back doesn’t sound like a good idea to me.

    • Jemimah

      Yes, but society was very, very different then, and many of those girls were “married off” to men they didn’t know or love.  You can’t really compare the two things.  And just because they were married, doesn’t mean that they were ready for marriage, love, sex or child-bearing. 

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        The point is that this is nothing new.

        • Tina

          Charles Dickens wrote his books in response to the social conditions of his time, including the various abuses of children, and other social issues.  Almost two hundred years ago, he was instrumental in leading Britain towards the enacting of the British Reform Laws which had to do with many issues, including childhood work, but also with creating safer environments for children to grow up in.  In other words, there were people objecting to the situation of the times, rather than their also saying, 
          “nothing new”.  I know you said your family was involved with horse therapy; so you know the instincts that are needed from adults.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Horse therapy?

          • Tina

            Ohh, maybe there is a “Greg” without your last name who posted that information the other day.  Sorry!

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

            Not I–I’m happy on my own two feet, thanks.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Sooo True!

      • Anonymous

        Flanagan and her “girl land” idea are way too focused on romantic love and marriage. That isn’t the reality for many girls and women. This perpetuates a culture where women that don’t want, find or maintain a romantic monogamous heterosexual marriage are dismissed as failures, “bad” girls, or even worse derogatory remarks.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’m wondering if girls today are too much focused on others, peers, what others are thinking and feeling (an observation-based obsession) versus focused on what we used to call navel-gazing, their sense of self, their own awareness.  I keep hearing about peer pressure, but then it sounds like kids don’t connect very well, in reality.

    • Anonymous

      This is not just girls.  My nephew went through a period where he wouldn’t go anywhere without his hoodie jacket on (his sheild of invisibility as it were) even when it was 90 Degrees and 90 % Humidity.  He wouldn’t go into a store in the mall with me to pick out a hoodie because he was paranoid that people were staring at him which of course wasn’t true.  Eventually he out grew this.  (Thank God!)  But I think a lot of kids go through this kind of paranoid and awkward phase.

      • Anonymous

        …and if they don’t seek help.

        • Anonymous

          You hope that they have a family that will intervene…

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Define “fetishize the tokens of childhood.”

    • Ellen Dibble

      I don’t know about nowadays, but I’m inclined to think the teddy bear is the relic of the mother’s sense of what the young person ought to be clinging to.  If the mother can “let go,” she won’t be pressing the fetish objects on the child, not at age 7, not at age 20.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Yup–the best advice is to let a child grow into his or her own individual.

        • Tina

          Our Commercial Culture is SO large, and with TV, video and film, the images of that culture even MOVE, like we do (unlike earlier commercial cultures that mainly spread thru flat, still images, like newspapers and magazines).  I KNOW there is much more to Social Culture than these influences alone, but, for the sake of this argument, this is as far as I’ll take it.  With social media on the internet, that Commercial Culture is taken into and woven into the more intimate circles of private life, friendship, and peer concerns.  Somehow, when SO many kids in all parts of the country think that o.s. is “not sex”, and when SO many kids in all parts of the country talk about “the hook-up culture”, you have to wonder:  how did such intimate behaviors become thought of with such uniformity?  How are the individual kids doing with defining their Individuality when this Commercial Culture Net is right there, hovering over them?  Throw into that mix the observation I heard recently that the kids of the Sixties wanted Freedom; while today’s kids want Control.  Do kids find ways to feel like they are In Control Of Their Own Lives when, in fact, they are just using words that they’ve heard while engaging in behaviors that are justified BY those words (kind of like a circular firing squad!!), and meanwhile … that Commercial Culture Net is right there, hovering?!!!

  • Kathy

    I’m not sure that she’s trying to create a better childhood for girls as much as she’s advocating for all girls to have the same childhood as she remembers in her nostalgia.

    • Anonymous

      Not sure if it’s her or Tom’s interpretation.

  • Yar

    That should be true for all children, put technology in the central living space, and share that space with your children.  It takes time to be a parent, time that is stolen by the two income trap.  A parent at home has a very important job. Not to say that all at home parents do their job well.  Parents should not take their cell phone to bed either.  Model the behavior you expect.  Actions are much louder than words.

  • MS5515

    We have our whole lives to be adults. Can’t we just have a childhood?! That’s what sets us apart from other cultures where little girls are sold as brides. It’s so few years in our lives to be innocent and unconcerned with sex.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Do girls come (born, DNA) with romance in their veins?  I think so.  I don’t think it’s sexual.  I don’t think it’s Jane Eyre or Cinderella; I think it’s part of the need for women to find someone outside the family of origin, a male, who can and will care for them for the entire lifespan of their progeny.  It’s inbuilt, that idea that someone might value you That Much.

    • Guest

      My goodness, you are nuts. I’m sorry that you were raised in the fashion that you were, but I was never raised like that.
      Fortunately for me, I was raised by parents who understood that there is NO difference between boys and girls. I retired as the Director of CIS at a major university.
      It’s how you raise your girls that makes the difference and in today’s society, that is probably accomplished best at home. BTW: Yes, we were virgins when we graduated from high school!!!! There’s the difference.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Thank you for the comment, but I have to say I have no idea what you’re talking about vis-a-vis my upbringing, or my comment.  Maybe the comment connects to something else.

        • Guest

          “think it’s part of the need for women to find someone outside the
          family of origin, a male, who can and will care for them for the entire
          lifespan of their progeny.  It’s inbuilt, that idea that someone might
          value you”

          Where did you come up with this? You act like women are ONLY sexual beings, which is the LAST thing I was taught. What are you suggesting to girls? Inbuilt?
          Nothing is inbuilt for it is learned by examples. Set better examples !!!!

          • Ellen Dibble

            Flanagan is saying that the whole of Grimm’s fairy tales, with “princess” standing in for a girl who finds an appropriate man (it seems to me), is pre-feminist (or something like that).  I forget exactly.  See the reviews above.  So I was trying to say that romance is not something cooked up by Disney.  If you want to look at romance from the boy’s point of view, I guess I’d say it’s inbuilt for them as well.  I’m sure some children learn about passion and love from watching television; some learn about it from watching relationships in their own milieu.  I’m hypothesizing that love is practically genetic.  We wouldn’t be reproducing it, and it’s not exactly hidden from awareness right from the start.  Don’t you have memories that connect to an appreciation of intense relationships that date way way back?  Or is all your awareness of intimacy derivative?  (I must be missing something.)

          • Guest

            Thank you for your thoughtful response. I was called away and I’ve just gotten back to my desk. I was annoyed and I get annoyed with the current decline of our society. So much of our decline comes from a reduction in college educated people, as one example. More and more women are not having children today, which I think is a great sign. Therefore, to read and hear women act like having children is their primary purpose is an insult to me and should be to them, as well.
            Thanks, again, for I truly appreciate your thoughtfulness.

      • Tina

        I don’t see what Ellen said as being contrary to achieving the successes you achieved.  I believe that Ellen has her own successful business that she established, so her life is not in contradistinction to what you suggest yours is.  

        I just said to a friend the other night:  if your daughter (mid-thirties) wants to eventually be a mom in a family with a husband, she ought to not even bother dating guys who never want kids and/or who never ever want to be married.  An early sense of romance CAN help you evolve into the adult woman who realizes she can set out goals, not just for her professional life, but for her personal life, and pursue it in a fashion that does not cause her to shoot herself in the foot with her overall choices.  Sure, the guy who never wanted kids MIGHT grow up to be the BEST dad, but he might also grow into the man who he said he was:  someone who never wants kids.  

        I DO believe that the “romance” of puppy love was healthier and safer (if we are talking about true puppy love!) than the “rationality” of hook-up culture!

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Girls need supervision?  How about children need supervision.

  • Californialucky

    One of the problems I see we have in our culture is we don’t equate sexuality with wholesomeness. That’s one of the biggest things we can teach our girls. 

    • Anonymous

      Spot on!

  • TFRX

    I submit that the Patty Duke Show, and Happy Days (itself a nostalgic 1970s take on the 1950s) are not the points of comparison to make.

    How about “Pleasantville”?

    At some point raising kids means giving them tools to deal with the rest of the world, and I don’t know that I trust Flanagan’s take on what happens after girls become adolescents. From the Salon link:

    Flanagan mocks, for example, the suggestion on a Planned Parenthood site
    that abstinence-only education is linked to the rise of previously
    exotic forms of sexual activity (read: oral and anal) for teens who want
    to stay “virgins.”

    “I would hardly count Columbia as the go-to source for information on the hearts and minds of evangelical teenagers.” Yes, what do
    those wine-sniffing Upper West Side liberals know, except that the
    study, published in a peer-reviewed journal, actually drew on
    longitudinal data of 12,000 teenagers.

  • Californialucky

    … meaning being sexual, having boundaries, etc., can be wholesome …

  • Longfellows Evangeline

    I am getting ready to babysit a child that has just turned 4, but insist that she be dropped off here instead of me going to her because at her house she is always showing me each little frilly thing, and constantly cooking and making food in her little kitchen.  It makes me feel like she is being raised by the Bravo Channel.  Here she will have a stool, paper and pencil and conversation only.  If you want great auntie to babysit, the baby comes to Auntie, not the other way around.

  • Tina

    It’s 17 minutes into the show, and so far, I agree with everything that Caitlin says.  I’m especially grateful for her characterization of what the feminists of the 1960′s would think were they to have been told that there would be many educational and professional advances in the future, but that pornography would be knit right into the weave of that future (rather:  I’m grateful for her phrasing of those thoughts!)!  She is absolutely right!  Plus, the youngest women of that 1960′s generation had truly childlike childhoods in terms of what the general culture threw at them.  The older feminists of the sixties weren’t even exposed to TV as youngsters, so their childhood behaviors were very influenced by local community standards, so they did NOT have personalities and behaviors influenced by nationally marketed commercial standards.  

  • Anonymous

    We can’t protect girls by isolating them from the world. We have to teach girls and boys that women are not sexual objects. That means changing the way the media portrays women.

  • Alison OLeary

    I’m a mom of 4 young women, ages 17-21. While I ‘protected’ my brood from social pressures by putting a block on the television and being present in their everyday lives, I don’t think Ms. Flanagan’s ideas are anything new, but they bear repeating for the newer generation of parents. Let growing girls create their own worlds in their bedrooms, a place where they can be free from the pressures of society, and discuss all aspects with them all along the way.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    Protected, naive, young adult women will get eaten alive. If you want to isolate your daughters when they are younger, you better be ready to protect them all their lives.

    Also many will be lost and bitter their entire lives because the world they have to live in isn’t the world they were grown up in.

    • Ray in VT

      But guiding children and making content available to them at appropriate ages need not be sheltering in a sense that makes them clueless about the world.  I see teens doing stuff today that my friends and I would not have dreamed of 20 years ago.  It’s all about appropriateness for the individual.  One of my co-workers was telling me about a parent who was letting her 7-8 year old watch Robot Chicken.  I love the show, but it’s just not for kids.

  • Lee

    Every time Ms. Flanagan says “girls” I cringe.  There are over three billion “girls” on this planet, every single one with a unique brain chemistry, a unique set of life experiences, and a unique personality. She is making incredibly vast assumptions and her words do more harm than good.  So many people on this diverse planet are looking for single solutions to dynamic problems and I feel that this instead creates more problems.

  • Anonymous

    Online, all the time: has virtualization of relationships led to the elevation of the non-virtuous?
    Has complusive texting and depersonalization of communication helped accelerate the development of an age-bifurcated society unconstrained by restraint that comes with maturity?

  • Christinelford

    I would like to know where Ms. Flanagan’s evidence comes from. She spoke about “many parents” having no problem with their daughters performing oral sex on boys. I don’t know any parent of a boy or girl who would be fine with that! There is anecdotal evidence, and then there are facts. Please point us to studies about this

  • Tina

    One big risk is that kids will grow up addicted to pornography if they first engage with it at early ages.  Apparently, it is one of the hardest addictions to break, so it could be a lifetime addiction that they get saddled with.  

  • Hobbsjr02871

    The importance of role models cannot be understated – so whose role models are elevated in today’s culter? Jane Austen’s or Snooki? The answers to those choices depend on how parents interact with their daughters (and sons).  “Rainbow Parties” starting in middle and high school are not a healthy social practice in any culture. Neither is a burka a healthy practice.

  • Mike

    I am a parent of a young girl and its clear that girls are over exposed to a hyper sexualized world starting with the tramps on the Disney channel and this kind of content needs to be filtered and restricted .  But, the idea that they are saturated in pornography is not supported by any data whatsoever.  This seems like a crass and shallow attempt to make waves in order to make sales to me. 

    How new or radical is it to say we have to protect our children from the content and issues of the adult world?  Any rational person would tell you that most parents don’t advocate setting your children free on the internet or making important relationship decisions without guidance just as most rational parents would not advocate returning to the over-protected world of the fifties. 

    • Tina

      Yet, and sadly, there are those parents who are so afraid of looking prudish themselves that they WILL throw their child under the bus to save their own hip face.  I’ve seen this, more than once, sadly.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_VE3XBS5FCHIBVYOWPMNAS26VKY Medina Gooden

    We needs to stop letting the media dictate how we parent. What kids watch, and what they play with has an affect of what they involve themselves in years later. Parents today see “sheltering” as a bad thing, but I disagree. Sheltering is protecting. Protecting our children from things that can and will harm them.

    • Ray in VT

      My nephew asked me about the Holocaust when he was about 10.  I gave him some basic facts, but I didn’t feel that a child of that age needed to know about the horrors of the event.  There is a time and a place to introduce topics to kids, and we, as parents or educators, need to try to do that when the time is right.

    • Laurie

      I agree, but find it never ending, exhausting work to monitor the boundaries of acceptable language, images and ideas that “enter” my house.  No TV in the bed room, no cable, computer in the public spaces, no M rated video games, no R rated movies without parental companionship.  Streaming anything on line from TV or Youtube, downloading lyrics with derogatory language is almost impossible to forbid.  Conversations are really important with my children (boys 18 and 13) and with the parents of kids.

      • Tina

        Good for you for doing this work!  It is exhausting, and probably will be for a bit more time, but you’ll see the rewards!

  • Jeanne

    So, let me get this straight.  You should guide your girl, supervise them, and provide basic parental oversight.  But it’s OK if I let my son watch porn 24×7 and don’t keep an eye on him?  What exactly IS her point?  We need to protect girls more?  Does this mean we have to “protect” girls from being taken sexually/emotionally advantage of (I guess that’s the goal), but I have no responsibility to make sure my son doesn’t think having sex with a passed out coed is OK?  I should remind the guest that I know many more women messed up by bad “romances” than bad sexual hook-ups. I think she is looking at this issue very narrowly, at least as she is representing herself in this interview.

  • David

    If we spent more time on teaching our BOYS to be decent human beings, we wouldn’t have to worry as much about our daughters.  I have 14 and 15 year old girls and a 21 year old son.  You can’t ‘protect’ from the relaities of the world but you can prepare anad support them on thier journey.

    • TFRX

      Agreed.

      But I posit that we can’t say this without recognizing how much of our media and commercials are created for either 14-year-old boys, or men who think like 14-y.o.s.

      “Twilight” has enough holes of its own, but remember it’s the exception, not the rule. The rule is another crappy movie from Adam Sandler’s production company.

      And I see that at 33 minutes that Irin Carmon has stolen my thunder.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    I delete my history to protect my privacy.  I suspect that many children know how to do that more than their parents do.

  • Yar

    I noticed my daughter seemed most happy and free when playing soccer on a all girls team.  She could physically express her skills and not be judged on anything other than her skill at the game.

    Much of what has been lost in protecting our children is from loss of extended family in the community.  When children know there are aunts and uncles watching from all corners they modify their behavior and feel safer at the same time.

    • Tina

      And even the shopkeepers of my olden times used to be part of that protective environment.  We’d bike to our downtown with money in our penny loafers to buy comic books.  At the cash register, Moe, the owner of the shop, said several times, “I don’t think your father would want you buying that one”, and he would take it out of our pile!  We never thought that was unfair — it made us feel part of a bigger world, and mildly curious about what could possibly be going on!  

  • Ansapphire

    How can you tell an extremist.  A person who immediately goes to the worst case scenario.  What parent that she knows that are okay with anything she just describes.  Why does she claim because a woman is a feminist she would not encourage her daughter’s dream of finding a prince.

  • Christinelford

    Can Ms. Flanagan please tell us what, in her mind, was the golden age for adolescent girls? The 60s? 70s? 80s? 

  • guest

    As the mother of an 8-year-old, a girl I hope will be independent, sex-positive, and generally happy as an adult, I don’t find anything incongruous in what Ms. Flanigan is suggesting. I haven’t read her book, but it is a fact there are a lot of serious (and new) threats to young girls that we as parents have to address first, before the girls do. It’s real.

  • Longfellows Evangeline

    I have always told the younger ones that the boys will say anything, and actually feel it, but only till they get what they want.  That that is normal, and they can’t help it.  And I tell them once they become sexualy active, they will be addicted and no one will be able to speak to them until they get kicked to the curb, and they will think no body understands them. 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Fairly good advice!

  • Lee

    If she does not stop speaking in superlatives, I am going to smash my radio.  ”All adolescent boys are searching for sex”   “all girls fantasize about romance.”  This ignorance makes me sick.   

    Please limit your guests to those who only look at facts.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Isn’t there a huge dose of unreality in creating a culture for girls?  Human beings come in two sexes.  Why not talk about a real culture?

  • Cara Harris

    I wish we didn’t have to make such a dividing line between feminism and virtue. Wendy Shalit wrote a book called Return to Modesty several years ago and questioned if we are so liberated sexually, why has the rate of sexual assault increased so rappidly?

    I appreciate this honesty and recognize this is not about being sheltered but engaging in open and honest conversations about why things should be avoided.

    I am grateful to no longer feel I am just a voice in the dessert on this.

  • Jess in Boston

    Why is it that only little girls need to be protected? Should we not be taking the same steps to protect our sons? 

    • Carrollgomez

      Generally we do not see little boys running around with their thongs showing!

      • Jess in Boston

        What do you mean? I see the underpants of boys much more often than I would like. Boxer shorts are hanging out of jeans all over the place, men disrespecting their bodies by exposing their bare chests unnecessarily. If we want to harken back to an earlier time, as I understand it, it was unseemly for a man’s undershirt to be exposed at any time, never mind exposing his entire torso to the world.

        Why is it inherently worse that women become sexually promiscuous and do emotional damage to themselves than men doing the same thing? Surely we cannot believe that a lifetime of casual sex and meaningless relationships have no effect on a man’s psyche.

  • Yar

    Which is better: for a society that puts a burka on their girls or a society that teaches boys to treat everyone with respect?  We are missing the point by not spending time raising all of our children.

  • Sdowers

    I was just offended by what Caitlin just said about ALL boys doing anything possible to obtain female companionship. That is a very stereotypical generalization! I have 2 boys and are just as sensitive as girls. I’m really offended Caitlin!

  • MS5515

    The focus here is not on whether adult women should be “worldly” or sexual, she’s talking about LITTLE GIRLS! Big difference in what we should be doing and focusing on at these times of our lives. Teach a girl to treat her body with respect and demand that others do as well. If you can teach a young girl that she will take that lesson to her adult life.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Flanagan is saying the teenage boys have to study girls they want to date “as if they were sports figures,” and figure out what they (girls, young women) might like to do, hike, see a movie, etc.  Leaving aside that it’s a bit of a stretch to think of girls who would go out otherwise — you can say feel free to do that yourself; I’ve got other things to do — I don’t think it’s time and spending time that is the basic thing that has to click.  I think it’s something to do with communication.  There’s a kind of compatibility that could go along with interests that are totally disparate, that might be complemented by someone who enjoys other pursuits.  I don’t hear discussion about learning to appraise this kind of compatibility.  It used to be this kind of appraisal was the Number One thing a young woman had to learn.

  • Pleclerc55

    Make her stop talking about attracting boys.  Some girls are NOT INTERESTED in boys, but other girls.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      She seems very focused that the whole world is just one way.

  • Nashville Mom

    I would like to know what your guest thinks about the inevitability of girls on average in Europe and America losing their virginity at around 17.  And in raising two daughters, when they become 16, I would like to emphasize to them (not just to be safe and healthy) that sex is not a performance or entertainment or dirty behavior as the culture suggest, but that they should choose wisely and I will help them in whatever way I can to avoid the “walk of shame.”  Also I was a girl scout in the early 80′s and now have the opportunity to be a troop leader in 2012.  The difference between what I remember girl scouts and what it has become is tremendous. The girls are quite overprotected by “helicopter moms and have little opportunity to branch out and discover their world with a good group of girls because their mothers are interfering in the process.  I would suggest to your caller that all of our children need less supervision/parental involvement, but more productive group time with peers to accomplish and practice wise independence.  I’m afraid mothers listening will thing they need to “hover” more, not less. 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Talk HONESTLY with your daughters, LONG before you think they have any interest in boys or girls, in an ‘adult’ manner!

      • Nashville Mom

        I already have. (My fourth grader and I have  watched a National Geographic documentary on sex and had a good conversation about what sex is all about physically and touched on emotions).  What I am trying to say is, I will discourage my daughters from engaging in sex until they are 16…and then I’m not going to encourage it, but will follow my daughter’s lead and will certainly have a good conversation about what sex is all about emotionally for most men and women over 23 , and how it is different emotionally for most people under 23.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I’ve got to say, the informed sexuality Flanagan is setting forth is so different from the kind of vulnerability a young woman brings to the situation if she is, shall we say, in love. If the girl does not really deeply care about the person, sex is so much easier.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Is Flanagan talking about Girl Land or Disneyland?

  • Jess in Boston

    My mother held both my brother and my sister and I to the same standards regarding sex, pornography, and insulation from the harshness of the world as children. 

    I agree that we need to protect children from certain parts of the world. I don’t understand why Ms. Flanagan seems to think that we should hold our sons and daughters to different standards. If we should protect the women, why not the men?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=664350462 Pachi Aguilera Stutzman

     I believe we must first discuss the idea that we are rational, intelligent beings capable of being more than just instincts. More than often we hear shows addressing ways on how to solve the social/emotional/economical etc. problems that asexually driven society produce. We should be able to promote the benefits and freedoms that sexual abstinence and sexual self respect bring into our daughter’s (and sons) lives. We give our children freedom when we teach them such principles that will help them choose what kind of lives do they want to live and the consequences of such choices. It is highly irresponsible to not help our teen children understand the consequences of leading unrestrained sexual lives in the name of freedom of choice or even feminism.

    • Tina

      Pachi, You say, “It is highly irresponsible to not help our teen children understand the consequences of leading unrestrained sexual lives in the name of freedom of choice or even feminism.”  THANK YOU!!!!!

  • Jim Schley

    Caitlin Flanagan is a marvelous, thoughtful writer whose pieces I always find absorbing and provocative in The Atlantic. As an unapologetically feminist male and as the father of an eighteen-year-old daughter, I am very happy to have this discussion underway and out in the open. Bringing boys into the conversation, yes — that’s a challenge, and it’s complicated but not impossible. Young women need to learn how to be full participants in decision-making and to provide leadership. Boys (speaking as a former boy) are essentially confused. 

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Boys are essentially confused?  What brand of Koolaid are you drinking?

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    What could adults have done to help Carmon’s dating experience?  Not much, I imagine.  Dating in high school is a torture that most of us go through.  That’s life.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

      Better doing dating 101 in high school than as an adult where everyone has already moved on to the advanced courses.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Some measure of bad experience is going to happen, no matter how much “protection” we give to children.  I’m not talking about abuse or rape.  I just mean that we have to find out what we want and what we will accept through trying.

        • Anonymous

          Yes! Girls raised in Flanagan’s “girl land” are setting themselves up for disappointing bad high school dating experiences. We find out who we are, what we want and whether that is attainable by experience.

    • TFRX

      Plus, teens don’t imagine their parents ever having been teens, and usually don’t care to take some of the best advice, no matter how offered. (Don’t ask me how I know.)

      And there’s always Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
      But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

    • Li Ap Anna

      Her language – what could we have done TO you.  I find her stance infuriating.

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Yup–she knows what’s best for everyone, and if we disagree, we’re clearly the bad people that she goes on about.

  • TFRX

    “I can show you lots of eighth grade girls who know how to put on a condom.” per Flanagan, who then goes on about “porn culture”.

    That’s not porn. Please have someone tell Flanagan the difference between porn, sexual education, and the (overwhelmingly one-way) commercial objectification of females.

  • kay

    i can’t believe this woman grew up in berkeley. she learnt nothing. completely anachronistic and damaging.

  • Lekatzen

    Did she just pull age rank?

  • Robertjamesquinn

    With all respect due to Ms. Flanagan, I think she clearly misses the point that gender is a social construct. When you characterize little boys and little girls as having different needs and ambitions, you lose the opportunity to create an inclusive conversation about youth culture. Rob, Brighton, MA

  • kay

    i think it would help more girls to get rid of the princess empire instead of shutting them off in some sort of fantasy-land.

  • Laurie

    I am a lesbian mom of two boys, age 18 and age 13 and I think that we can’t just change “girl” culture – we need to change boy culture.  Setting limits on the sex and violence that enters my home is really challenging – my older son’s 16 yo girlfriend gave my almost 13 yo an M rated video game for Christmas!  I am not a prude, and was on the side of non-censorship and rights for sexual minorities during the feminist sex wars of the 80s, but even I find the sexual marketing out there hard to fend off.  For example – the copy on the bottle of Axe Phoenix shower gel (heavily marketed to teens) tag line “The cleaner you are, the dirtier you get” and a silhouette  picture of a man and young woman (pony tailed) “unlimited female attention”.  “The bold scent of Phoenix embodies the maverick spirit. Be reborn every day.  All that’s left to do is rise to the occasion….”  Seems funny, except the message it send to young men about young women is NOT A JOKE.

  • Nutmeg

    I agree…these girls need supervision, nurturing, encouragement!!  My 16-year-old does romanticize (too much) about relationships/boys based upon all the pop culture JUNK she is undated with.  ”Crass/sexualizing forces” is just what is out there…per the author’s words.  There was an article in the WSJ in 2011 about “regrets” and how so very powerful sex is.  ’Looking back in their lives, some married women even stated that they WOULD not have had pre-marital sex with their husbands…I thought that that was an interesting/provocative statement.  (I have not even mentioned the sexually transmitted disease risk factor nor Christian aspects.)
    These girls need to be encouraged to focus on academics and sports during “girl land” years…’and NOT on boys so much.
    I observe her peer boy-group…and yes, it is really all about the sex for them at this age…bottom line!!
    People (even adults) forget that sex is easy….it is the relationship part that is the most substantive and challenging.  If that is in place, the sexual part will follow.  So, I say “abstinence” is best for these girls AND boys until marriage.
     

  • Ellen Dibble

    Maybe boys don’t know much about how to treat girls, as partners, at age say 15.  They really need another decade to get to that point.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      The same is true for girls.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Does anyone have a good high school romantic experience?

    • Ray in VT

      I think that a few do, but it’s mostly pretty aweful, isn’t it?

      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

        Yup–life isn’t handed to us as a safe and comfortable experience.  We have to build it.

        • Ray in VT

          That’s for sure.  There is a lot of garbage out there, though, that my little kids just don’t need to see yet.  They’ll get there, and hopefully when they do they’ll be either well prepared enough to deal with it on their own or talk to us about it.

    • Tina

      Yes! It was wonderful, emotionally and sexually, for both of us, and because it was before the Hippie Day Revolutions, it was virginal!  Hours and hours of physical expression that is perhaps literally unimagined by too many kids today.   And!:  o.s. was not even a thought I would have known to have, and it was never asked of me (Being of my generation, learning of o.s. later in life, I consider it an extremely intimate expression requiring extra levels of maturity and commitment and trust).  His parents were afraid that I would get pregnant, but I knew I would not let myself get pregnant, and that is how it was — the only “protection” being “in our heads” about what we would do and what we would not do.  The hormones and love brought everything together into better sex than I understand many girls who have lost their virginity have.  The old-fashioned phrase was heavy-petting, and it is the behavior that seems to have gone missing from this discussion wherever and whenever a discussion is held.  I am ONLY willing to be so explicit because I DO want the message of heavy-petting to get out there into the discussion:  we are so black & white, either/or, otherwise.  

  • james

    I am a guy, and I dated in high school and I cant say that the great treatment was reciprocated equally by girls.  I think High School is a learning period for both sexes.

  • Colmroge

    A lot of boys aren’t treated well by girls either, when dating around high school / college age.
    That’s just life.

  • mom of four

    I have three sons and a daughter and I am trying to teach all of them to respect their bodies and the bodies of others. I’m also trying to slow the onslaught of media images that they see because they don’t represent reality. That means we choose not to have cable, we have one computer in a public place and my oldest child (11) doesn’t have a cell phone yet, and won’t be able to get images on his phone when he does have one. But my children are not protected from everything. They are very social, they look at/read the newspaper and magazines. We watch movies. Why does being exposed to inappropriate things make someone better equipped for adulthood? 

    • Niaman3

      I
      know right! People act like you should flood your children with every image
      imaginable. And If you have to nerve to keep back certain ones or place
      restrictions of this and that then you’re raising children not fit for society,
      children who “don’t have a clue”. If viewing or participating in
      inappropriate things makes my children deficient  for adulthood then we need to revisit the definition
      of adulthood

  • Celeste

    I have to say I’m actually offended by this idea that girls have to approach sexuality differently than boys. It promotes the idea that there is some innate, wild sexual nature within men for which there is absolutely no scientific data and from which women need to protect themselves. Couldn’t we look at education not just as sex ed and contraception, but also in terms of teaching mutual respect and self respect? And furthermore, what about those young girls (and boys) who wish to explore their sexuality with the same sex? Doesn’t this “girl land” promote the idea girls don’t want to “hook up” with each other?

  • Jazmani

    I was a teenager in the 1970′s and I and many friends had boyfriends, and boys we dated, who did not treat us nicely.  And we had no one to talk to about it.  

  • Anonymous

    Hey the only things that girls can do that boys can’t is have babies. My daughter can do everything that a boy can, that is what I’ve taught my daughter and she is a princess and a tom-boy which makes her a great person.

  • Tina

    Puppy love has been replaced by kids satiating their curiosity about sex thru the internet.  Those are not parallel; something is missing.  

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  • kay

    turning this off. flanagan is ridiculous.

    • Jemimah

      I think both these smart women’s points of view are a little extreme.  I also don’t think Irin has enough experience under her belt (no pun intended) to have much perspective.  Just because she feels okay about her adolescence, doesn’t mean that it’s right for everyone.  Her happiness may have a lot to do with her own personal strengths.  I think that not just girls, but young guys need to be allowed to be children–not just where sex is concerned, but in any instance where we can protect innocence and freedom.  That just doesn’t happen much nowadays. 

  • gemli

    Just another insidious conservative message that wants to deny the real world for some idealized concept that doesn’t exist.  Rather than trying to infantilize girls and demonize boys, perhaps we should recognize the world as it is and inform boys and girls about the realities growing up.  

  • Tina

    And, Puppy Love has been replaced by The Hook-up Culture.  Those are not parallel; something is missing.

  • Dh001g

    I would also like to see some discussion of class in this discussion. Young girls who’s parents both have to work two jobs just to put food on the table will have trouble creating this space. The old middle class family with a bedroom for the girls to go to might not exist any more. In some ways the problems with are culture are a result of the economic pressures on Americans.

  • Maggie

    The assumption that boys will do “whatever they need to” to gain sexual access to girls and that it is, therefore, the girls’ responsibility to define the terms of that access, is insulting to boys and to girls both. Women have been told for too long that they are responsible for “civilizing” men, and men have been told for too long that they are NOT responsible for their own uncivilized behavior. Caitlin Flanagan is perpetuating this idea, and in doing so is claiming her own sons are not capable of regulating their own behavior and releasing them from the responsibility to, on their own, treat women decently.

  • Priya

    Listening to Ms. Flanagan on the air, I am struck most by the dichotomy she draws between young girls and boys.  I very much want to raise my daughter in protective, nurturing environment where she is able to be a child for as long as possible, and will grow up to be a self-respecting woman who does not view herself or others as a sexual object… and I have the same goal for my son– I want him to be raised in an equally nurturing, protective environment.  I want him to treat women with respect, and I want him to treat himself with respect as well.  I feel that both genders deserve to live their lives without being objectified, and should be taught to value the importance of a rich, committed relationship.

  • David

    I’m sorry but this just sounds like an offshoot of the mindset that every female is a queen and every male is a rapist in training.  I’m not saying there are some challenges for ALL adolescents these days, they are exposed to adult challenges way too fast.  However, the main problem is that the parents aren’t talking to their kids in an open and honest way and TEACHING their kids what to do in these situations.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The problem here is the attempt at a one-size-fits-all policy.

  • Kejad

    My two cents: we ought to be teaching girls (and boys) to think for themselves and not cave in to their parents or their peers.  The protected kids seem likely to be the ones who move from the influence of their parents to the influence of their peers when they leave home.  Want a girlfriend who will cave in to your sexual desires?  Find one who had very protective parents, someone who never learned to take control of her own life.  Our job as parents is not to create grown-up children but to create healthy, confident adults who are prepared to deal with the ugliness of the world on their own.

  • Argentina Lover

    You may believe in freedom for girls, and there is lots thats good about that but one major issue is that many many girls, based on their personality and their experiences, are simply not developmentally ready to have the sexual experiences they are being forced to think are ok.  Having sexual experiences too early can at times be devastating or at least just very sad or depressed if it occurs too early or in relationships that are not healthy.  Also, the answer for how to help is strong youth groups with adult advisors.  A strong youth group that helps direct kids to great activities with each other can be fantastic for kids in their teens.

  • Li Ap Anna

    Caitlin is unbelievably condescending.  We as parents are obligated to protect our children to the best of our abilities, and that means that we must inform them of the real world.  Her statement about some mothers being fine with their daughters felating strangers is passive agressive, and absurd.  No parent would be OK with that and the mainstreaming of porn needs to be addressed between parents and children, girls and boys.  My message to my daughter, now 18 just leaving a 2 year relationship in a respectful manner, was always that fairness is required – so don’t give until you receive. 

  • Anonymous

    What an irritating conversation.  It so obvious that none of the girls that Ms. Flanagan’s  talking about are poor and live in single parent homes.  They don’t have the option of retreating to a frilly bedroom to dream about romance and write in diaries.  They, like I was as a teen, are too busy dealing with the struggle of day to day living. 

    • Niaman3

      Are you say that if you’re poor and live in a single parent home then you are not able to remain a child? Lets not take what she’s saying verbatim and disreguard the principle of what she’s emplying. Whether you’re poor or rich what she’s saying emplies to each group and there for the solution emplies to each group. It maybe harder but it’s possible.

      • Anonymous

        That’s exactly what I’m saying.  I grew up poor, in a single parent home.  I was a “latchkey” child.  My mother had to work two jobs to try to support me and my siblings. My childhood consisted of going to school and doing chores after school, doing homework and going to bed.  By chores I mean babysitting my younger siblings, cooking dinner for them, cleaning up, doing laundry, etc. from the time I was 9 years old.  You grow up fast living in poverty.  You have to in order to survive.  This is ugly reality for lots of girls who don’t have a middle class lifestyle to support them. 

        • Terry Tree Tree

          I hope you have found the rewards in the memories.  I applaud you looking after your younger siblings, and agree that not everyone has the advantages.  That does not mean that one cannot find and have a meaningful, fun life!

    • Anonymous

      Well said. Flanagan speaks from a position of privilege and success. The reality is many girls never had a sheltered pink frilly “girl land” in which to grow up.

  • TFRX

    “Talking about date rape is almost useless because teens don’t go on conventional dates.”

    Why do I have the sneaking suspicion that Flanagan isn’t just dealing with the semantics here?

    I would much more respect her if she could pull out what Carmon did: “How do we talk about sexual violence, consent, and boundaries?”

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

      Factor out the cliches and pablum from Flanagan, and there’s nothing left.

      • TFRX

        Disclaimer: I don’t have kids, so I’m sorta keeping myself quiet this hour. (Yes, this is my version of quiet!).

        But I find it fascinating to read the remarks from people who are or have raised kids on this board.

        • Terry Tree Tree

          Glad you let us know you’re here.  
             Thanks for the respect.  Many people that have NOT raised children, KNOW all there is to know about it, and are Quick to tell! 
             Raising children was the most challenging, MOST REWARDING thing I have done.
             Mine started with many of the handicaps that can happen, and turned out as decent citizens, parents, human beings.

  • Jean in Nashville

    Why do we have to reinforce Romance and Princesses as a standard for young women? Why don’t we, instead, empower them to become CEOs and competitive intellectuals by talking to them about THESE values everyday instead of asking them about their relationships with boys at school?

    • Nashville Mom

      I agree…the generation gap makes it almost impossible to  encourage a conversation about who likes who at school.  I’d much rather engage my daughters in a topic that includes new discoveries, theories on why humans do what they do, and stories that model values that we all enjoy listening too/talking about.

      • Tina

        May I suggest that your child might be trying to tell you something about her own anxieties when she tells you about what is happening with her friends.  I realized that I was hearing stories about the girls in my daughter’s classes who had long-time boyfriends who “finally” lost their virginities to those boys.  Each story went on to the next stage:  within 2-3 days these long-term couples broke up after “doing it”.  I was able to remind my daughter about what she had already seen around her when she was seriously thinking about losing her virginity when she was what I considered way too young.  I reminded her about these other heartbreaks — for her girlfriends had really “suffered” in the aftermath of these events.  She came to me later and said that she and that boy decided to break up, and they did so before “having sex”.  Since peers’ decisions can influence our own children’s decisions, I found that listening to what little I was made privy to was more helpful in my putting together something to say than my just speaking from my own (much older)  experiences or from theory or principle.  

        • Nashville Mom

          If my daughters ever bring anything up, no matter how trite I might consider it, of course I listen to them until its all out.  But I see in your example that you’re reply wasn’t about the boys at school either but about values you are trying to instill, which is much more substantial.  My point is, I will reiterate my focus that school is for education, not for hooking up, and I’d like to know what you learned today, what you think about that, what are you hopes dreams and aspirations.  Sex will fall into place.  And I’d say 90% of the time its before marriage and the most important thing we can do as parents, after teaching them about sexual health, is allow our children to own that experience and those that will follow themselves.  When does the helicopter parenting stop in upper middle class society?  It’s not a rhetorical question.  It seems like our society is delaying adulthood and responsibility more and more each year, and I don’t know if that’s such a good thing.  

          • Nashville Mom

            And I don’t know how old your daughters are, but I’ll be discouraging sex before age 17.

    • Anonymous

      Absolutely, Flanagan’s “girl land” idea has way too much emphasis on romance. Every girl does not want to be a “princess”. My sister was one of them, I felt so bad for her when my parents and relatives foisted dolls, a canopy bed and frilly dresses on her when she very clearly did not want them. I remember the exasperated look on her face when an aunt asked her whether she kept a secret diary with all her dreamy thoughts about boys and who she would marry.

  • Longfellows Evangeline

    There should be more chaperoned activities where kids can have fun, compete for attention, and be their beasty little selves, and stay safe.  The upper and middle classes can provide this for their children, and are physically available to give them timely advice as needed.  The working classes, those with more than one job are not present, and their children are driven by mother nature to be together, to taunt one another, and there are no adults in the neighborhood to look out the window and approach when things go wrong.  The girls that are unprotected are unprotected by their communities cutting recreation center in favor of senior center.  They don’t want to see or hear anyone over thirteen years old.  Welcome to Norfolk, Virginia, where all youth are orphaned by society

    • Tina

      What an excellent posting!!  Thank you!  Yes, our town had MONTHLY teen dances, held in the basement of the Presbyterian Church, but it was not church related in any way.  Those dances let us have a fantastic outlet for our physicality, and the town made sure that the dances were available every single month!  I’m old enough that very few adult women took birth control pills, and I don’t think any teens did, certainly most did not.  Now parents are worried about what we called bump and grind dancing, but it WAS one of the alternatives to “doing it” back then.  One thing did NOT lead to another back then, or if it did, it was very rare.  No one mentions this:  birth control pills DID help with unwanted pregnancies, but so did societal norms against getting pregnant, even tho those norms were ultimately shame-based.  I believe that birth control should be available, but it does seem that younger children are having full intercourse because they are able to take b.c. pills.  We had heavy petting and bump and grind dancing and most of us, boys and girls, were virginal when we graduated from high school.  (NOT a scientific survey statement!)

  • Jess in Boston

    Wow, I’m really disappointed that Ms. Flanagan is using the character assassination of Ms. Carmon, suggesting that her upbringing failed her and exaggerating her experience based on two sentences, in order to disprove Ms. Carmon’s point of view.

  • Ayn Marx

    What they needed to be protected-from, to put it simply, is capitalism and its artifacts.  A consumer culture encourages viewing each other simply as sources of pleasure, and the interchangeability of persons within the Market encourages the same attitude, even as its ideology’s emphasis on selfish self-interest destroys any idea of inherent human worth disconnected from utility.

    • Nashville Mom

      I would agree that consumerism materialism’s growth into the tween and childhood market (obviously it’s not capitalism, because their doing it in China too) puts an emphasis on beauty and sexiness (and by default de-emphasizes what’s on a person’s inside) at too early of an age.  A Mani/Pedi party for five year olds decked out in $20 princess tutu’s whilst being served virgin mimosa’s was an actual suggestion from one of the moms, for all things, for a girl scout trip.  What happened to getting dirty and learning how to build a fire, cook your own food, and sing songs?  Being a kid these days must really suck for a lot of kids who can’t run around and explore, use their imaginations, and have the freedom to have fun, like we got to do.  And when they’ve done all the grown up stuff that materialism has thrown at them at 5, what’s the next adult thing to do?  

  • Aurora Lee

    As a 23 year old female I really appreciate this book. I can definitely relate to over sexualization in my teen years. Looking back on it I think my parents did the best that they could. I didn’t have internet in my room and there was a cut off time for the computer at night. Despite all of this my friends were a part of the hookup culture and so therefore i wanted to be included as well. I disagree in thinking that parents just throw their kids out there. This is a societal issue there is only so much parents can do. 

  • Yar

    It is much more difficult to hold the hand of a teenager than that of a toddler.  Don’t try to be your child’s friend.  Be a parent, with unconditional love and continual guidance.

  • Mary Lou

    we’ve done without computers in the bedrooms, talked with our children (3 daughters and a son), shared our values and stressed that self respect is important.  Making mistakes in relationships is part of growing up and learning how to choose our friendships and romantic relationships.  we as parents cannot protect our children from this experience, nor should we.  also, not ALL boys are willing to take advantage of a girl.  Boys and girls need to be part of the conversation.

  • Kejad

    How many women grew up in a two-parent household with a distant father who then go on to have hollow sex-based relationships in some feeble attempt to attract attention from men?  (Answer: a lot.  I’ve dated plenty of them.)  Flanagan is clinging to pure nostalgia based on zero actual evidence.

  • Marblehouse

    How is keeping our girls away from popular culture, helping them?  How is forbidding facebook and other media sources, helping them?  That would be like telling the kids they can never have candy and as a result we don’t need to teach them to brush their teeth or exercise.  Communication.  Communication is key.  We need to filter the information that comes in and talk about it so that the children can learn how to make appropriate choices.

  • Guest

    “Nice girls” get a great education, which builds a wonderful life. A mate is decades down the line, if one is well educated and wise to life. Being a baby manufacturer is so base.

  • momoftwo

    Thanks, Tom for finally pushing back on Caitlin.  Why are her observations framed as a stand against Feminism?  Like Feminists don’t care what their children – both sons and daughters – do?  The holier than thou attitude is so off-putting that while I may agree with parts of her discussion, is she unwilling to admit that Feminists want the best for their children that includes strong relationships?

  • Jkarl64

    I’m a father who has three girls in a small Vermont town. The state of VT sent down an “expert” on teaching parents the hard core facts about “kids and the internet” – the first year only three parents showed up. The second year about the same. It was horrible. Parents don’t know the dangers.  I’ve witnessed 10 year olds who have adult video games on field trips on pda devices. I feel like my wife and I are paddling up a class IV rapid.  Similar to my disgust of parents bringing kids to inappropriate movies. I’m sorry but most parents don’t have a clue. – JoeK

  • Vanessa (Jamaica Plain, MA)

    wow great discussion! I think both caitlin and iren know how to have a respectful debate over a highly touchy topic. well done!

    • http://www.maryjones.us tlachtga

      Actually, I thought Flanagan was condescending to Iren; when Iren speaks up and says she had a very happy adolescence and supportive family, without living in the confines that Flanagan thinks all girls need, Flanagan dismissed her and says she was obviously unhappy, with no supporting evidence beyond Iren admitting she’d had a bad boyfriend at one point. It was ridiculous.

      • Ellen Dibble

        Odd how “unhappy” is seen (and used) as a condemnation.  If it were not used as such, Iren might just say sure I was unhappy at times; isn’t that part of growing up?  Do people defend that they got through teenage years without plenty of ups and downs?  As if that were the objective?

        • http://www.maryjones.us tlachtga

          Sure–but Flanagan acts as if keeping girls in their rooms to dream about their fairytale prince to come along will somehow make them happier; it’s delusional.

          • Tina

            I’ll have to read the book, but I doubt if she is saying what you just paraphrased.  I think she is talking about alone time and imaginative time.  Even professional mathematicians need developed imaginations to do their work – - I think she understand imagination in its broadest sense, yet I think she errs by not defining what she means about accessing one’s imagination.  

  • ebw343

    It’s telling how how Ms. Carmon pointed out that sometimes fatherlessness is the least worst option and Ms. Flanagan’s resopnse was along the lines of “Oh, I’m sure SOME people think it’s some WONDERFUL alternative lifestyle…”

  • Janet

    Caitlin Flanagan is making me scream at the radio. There are lots of ways of parenting that include teaching your child how to process popular culture and make good choices without banning computers and facebook. There are also lots of marriages between good strong people that fall apart. Caitlin’s world view is narrow and self-serving. As a 56-year old strong mother of a well-adjusted 16 year old girl I much prefer Erin’s commentary. Girls’ rule!

  • Anonymous

    I am a gender and sexuality professor at BU, and I am so disheartened and enraged by Caitlin Flanagan’s work and the discussion going on right now.
    For one, I am shocked at how heterosexist this conversation is and in this sense how traditional, confining, and regressive. How would Caitlin make sense of lesbian relationships? Would girls be ‘safe’ because it is two girls? Clearly coercive, and ‘unhealthy’ sexual encounters occur between members of the same sex. It is when you think about this that you realize this is not about girls and boys persee but about power and the social construction of gender. Caitlin’s argument throws us back into a time where ‘boys will be boys’ and girls have to be the gate keepers to men’s seemingly uncontrollable sexuality. This makes men out to be complete sexual dupes – incapable of complex desires and decisions regarding relationship, love and intimacy; rather, according to Caitlin, if sex is possible they become complete zombie with only one goal of ‘getting laid’; and, it makes girls out to be asexual beings, who only want, and will ‘give,’ sex if it means they get a relationship, a commitment, etc. Again, she reduces the experience of sexuality to sex and a strategic withholding of it – where is Her desire? Where are her pleasures? Feminists and gender theorists have worked for decades now challenging these constructions in order to provide boys and girls, men and women, more options in terms of how they express and explore their power and sexuality. This is not to say that the playing field is level – we still live in a patriarchal world in which representations of men and women, masculinity and femininity, and sexuality and power work to limit this exploration and expression into narrow, trite, and traditional roles. Caitlin’s work only reinforces and reifies these mainstream roles and thus undermines the diversity of experience girls and boys can and do have. 

    • Vanessa (Jamaica Plain, MA)

      here here! i was thinking the SAME thing. 

    • Ted White

      Very well said, thank you. Youth have the right to find their own way in the human experience. Adults have the responsibility to ensure both that they’re free to do that, and safe while they do it, and Flanagan misses that these are not contradictory aims.

    • Niaman3

      What you’re discribing is what’s being played out in primetime tv every day, and every night. Children imitate what they see and begin to believe that what they are watching is what is reality. Life begins to imitate art. Don’t believe me, look around you, who are our children trying to be like, dress like, act like.

      • Ellen Dibble

        I think primetime TV is worse than Internet in that it inflicts itself, grabs the attention, uses every possible wile to pull your attention this way and that, all without really leaving time for a sane thought.  Okay, those last nine words are excessive, but I really worry about children trying to learn English from say Entertainment Tonight, or whatever it’s called.  Egads!  With the internet, you ask for things, you sometimes get answers, or challenges.  Probably all your friends are as well, and between you and your parents, maybe you hit a safe balance for spending time and attention.

    • Lin

      As the mother of boys, thank you for this line in a thoughtful and balanced post–This makes men out to be complete sexual dupes – incapable of complex
      desires and decisions regarding relationship, love and intimacy; rather,
      according to Caitlin, if sex is possible they become complete zombie
      with only one goal of ‘getting laid’.

      I was FURIOUS when I heard Caitlin reduce boys to that stereotype, while at the same time implying that girls need to learn to become master manipulators to get a boyfriend.

  • Moiracee

    This Caitlin is a pretty negative person who seems to feel free to make sweeping generalizations about a lot of other people.  She is really out of touch.  She is creepy.  Send her back to the 50′s.

  • Ted White

    Flanagan is correct that children and adolescents aren’t the sexually ravenous beings Madison Avenue projects them to be, but they aren’t sexless cherubs, either. They are what they are, which is human beings, progressively (and sometimes in fits and starts) maturing into adult sexuality. She takes too heavy a hand with an important matter–the commodification of minors’ sexuality–which does nothing to promote intelligent dialogue about it. And on this show she comes across as the heiress of the late, kooky Andrea Dworkin. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_Y6CO5C2HE4WM2OYGCDVWGPRXXM oldman

    I didn’t get to listen to the whole thing – did Flanagan detail how she’ll keep her own twin boys in check and not be a threat to young girls? Or will it be “their fault” for not protecting their daughters?

  • Anonymous

    I agree we need to protect girls and raise them to be strong, but what seems to be most missing from this discussion is why are we continuing to raise boys in a way that causes our girls to need protection and sheltering?  Why do we need to be hypervigilant about making sure our girls now what to do in every single interaction with a boy?  Why aren’t we raising our boys to be kind, compassionate, and not objectify or use women instead of just making sure our girls know how to recognize and resist boys?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      I did.

  • MDA

    Ms. Flanagan assumes if one does not have a traditional family with one mother and one father, the children are doomed, and if one of the parents is not present, then a poor choice of partner was made by the remaining partner.  That person “should have seen the danger signals.”  I was a two year old girl when my father died of kidney disease.  How was my mother supposed to prevent that from happening?  I am 65 years old, married, raised two healthy, well-adjusted daughters.  Talk to me about the 50s and 60s.  That paradise was a pipe dream

  • Pcowanvt

    I am the mother of 2 girls (12 and 19), so I feel quite qualifed to comment.  Closeting girls up in some “girl land” teaches them nothing for the future.  Caitlin Flanigan would have girls be society’s victims that need to be protected from reality.  Yes, parenting is hard, but not because we have to have the resolve to control our teenagers, but because we have to instill in them a sense of self esteerm and self-determination in their lives.  With self esteem, they are less likely to get into situations that leave them victims.  To me, the teen years should be the time where kids get to practice being adults.  This means that they need room to make decisions.  Given this room, kids will communicate with their parents.  Trying to control them by limiting their access to the internet will only serve to cut off valuable communication that will help them develop the judgement they need when they move away from home.  it won’t likely result in them staying away from the internet, but sneaking it in when they are at their friend’s house.
    My 19-year-old has a male friend who is seeing a girl.  My daughter noticed that he did not treat her very well.  She asked him why he treated her so badly by asking:  “would you treat me that way if you were going out with me?!”  His reply was:  “You wouldn’t let me”.  Now, this does not exhonerate this male friend from being an ass, but self esteem does affect how one is treated.  I teach my daughters how to be int his crazy world, but certainly not to be afraid of it!!!!!

    • Terry Tree Tree

      EXCELLENT!!

  • Heysbay

    Re the goal of being treated like a princess: We need to teach our sons and our daughters to seek those who treat them like gold, not to want someone who treats them like a
    prince or princess.

    Re the goal of girls determining who gets access to them–and Flanagan’s claim that boys will do whatever it takes to get access: We also need to teach our daughters and our sons this: they will want access to those they find attractive, & others will want access to them; therefore, they must recognize what they require for that “other” to gain access to them.

    • Heysbay

      And by the way, we need to teach our sons and daughters to treat their partners like gold, as well.

  • Kiriakos

    I had a girlfriend who was normal, or so it seemed, and then her inner Caitlin Flanagan emerged in her late 20s.  She ended up so ideologically warped that she worked as a Senate staffer trying to crucify Clinton for having a girlfriend.  Ugh.  Can’t believe I ever touched her now.  Unfortunately, Caitlin reminds me of what went wrong with that girlfriend who chose to become just as ideologically rigid and puritanical, and to waste her evident intelligence on the cleverness of right wing diatribe.

    Many thanks to Irin, who needed a few moments to warm up, but then came on like a house afire and trounced Caitlin’s  silly nonsense.  Well done.

    • Dandan3

      Here, here Kiriakos.  Couldn’t listen much more to Caitlin’s broad generalizations and “silly nonsense.”  I wonder how she treats her own sons, as the sex crazed, pornographic creatures they are?

      Irin…was far more interesting and insightful and wish you had her on for the hour rather then the author.  Not going to read Girl Lan.

    • Nashville Mom

      I’m sorry, I think that your ex’s was problem wasn’t that Clinton had a girlfriend (girlfriends don’t save a sperm-covered dress in the closet for evidence for later).  I think her problem was that he had a groupie–over the course of several groupies–and this particular groupie compromised the office in the eyes of many extremists in the middle east when his crazy-”I’m in it for me,” groupie let all the sordid details between them be known.  As a grown married men holding office, Clinton and Sen. Edwards, should be ashamed at loving the groupie culture as much as they did.  Even Mick Jagger quit loving it to raise his family.  It was their only flaw that I cannot forgive.  Other than that, I loved Clinton.  I guess a bigger question in relation to this On Point show, is what makes a young woman grow up to want to be a groupie?  

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_425GVKQCLFZMQYYENR7CJBRDVA jb

        I’m going to doubt that this person’s problem with Clinton was that he had a groupie. I think the problem is that he had a groupie AND HE WAS A DEMOCRAT.

        I don’t and haven’t seen conservatives responding with anywhere near the same vitriol towards the scores of Republican conservatives acting similarly. Funny how that is. Why do you think that might be?

  • http://hunter-cuny.academia.edu/deborahtolman Deborah Tolman

    Actual research demonstrates that engendering gender inequity as advocated is indeed bad for girls.  Enabling girls to make active choices, think critically, connect with their own bodies and trust their instincts are what research (including my own) shows leads to healthy development, the antithesis of what seems to be advocated here…based on what exactly?

  • Kestral

    To “Guest,”  what the heck is a baby manufacturer?  Are you degrading something just because only women can do it?  Is this a woman-hating comment?  To have and raise children is the noblest of jobs, and any real feminist sees this and respects it. When you demean any work that is traditionally female, you are demeaning women and the importance of that work. Though it is usually unpaid, or poorly paid, those jobs are essential to a good life.

  • David Provost

    Tom,
    Love your show and listen every day.  As the father of 2 daughters, I was very interested in today’s show.  I feel you were impatient several times with your guest and your opinions of how families live today is offbase.  Your guest had it right. 
    David

  • Ellen Dibble

    I heard one of the two panelists say that without a present father exemplifying the long-term relationship, the daughter will “have to work that out romantically,” or something like that.  And it happens I had to stop listening just then, but I’m thinking the word “romantically” is pretty subjective.  And I’m seeing in this thread that a “distant father” leaves a daughter seeking to attract male attention sexually.   There is much to-do about empty relationships.  
        For one thing, empty relationships can be abandoned.  Right?  Or does one continue drinking from a dry well.
       For another thing, I didn’t buy into Flanagan’s assertion that all pubescent girls are “interested in boys.”  If they were brought up in environments with boys and girls, they probably see boys as other human beings first.  And if they find a boy who is specially compatible, there are new directions to go with it, for sure.  But I’m wondering if these girls seeking to attract male attention aren’t actually seeking to attract the attention of certain males, and the males seeking to attract the attention of certain females.  This would be the super competitiveness of this age, with their vast and enviable capabilities, deployed not towards the achievements more appropriate for that age but rather toward landing all the proclaimed most desirable objects of the opposite sex (or same sex if they are homosexual).  
        That’s a whole other dynamic.   Perhaps girls see that they have decades in their future that they can devote to caring for a man, and a family, and realize they are unlikely to soon again see the opportunities to be interested in other things.  Is male attention so hard to achieve that it has to be an obsession?  Apparently so.  Maybe girls should to some extent trust that the boys/young men who are best suited to them will indeed be attracted to them, more so perhaps if they are NOT flaunting themselves as if to outshine everybody else and catch the predetermined Number One.

  • Dgann

    It has been said that Feminism has allowed Women to become the Men they always wanted men to be.
    Seems more like Feminism has forced Women to become the Men feminist always said they hated.
    Feminism influences women to embrace the philosophy of the Hugh Heffner’s of the world who view sex as merely a physical act between two consenting adults and nothing more.
    Feminism is not against Gender Bias, but rather very much in favor of Gender Bias, as long as that bias is to the advantage of feminist.
    Feminist promote the stereotype “man bad women good”, embracing statements such as “all men are potential rapist”.
    Feminism is very anti family, often describing the role of men in the family as merely sperm donors who need to be trained, and make money.
    Feminist use raw statistical data on personal earnings to make the claim that women still are not paid the same amount of money for the same amount of work.
    Has anyone read Ms. Carmon? Have you looked at the web site Jezebel?
    Both are perfect examples of what is wrong with feminism, not the least of which is the feminist hatred and attempted objectification of men.

    • Caroj

      You’re kidding, right?

  • SaraKentucky

    I don’t think we should be ‘protecting girls’ from our culture/society. If we do, then that leaves men to create the world we hide girls from. Both girls and boys should be active in CREATING the world we live in with *educated* guidance. Maybe we need to reign in the dichotomy of the conversation, and speak from the shared human experience with appreciation of both genders.

    • Nashville Mom

      When Caitlyn first started talking, it sounded like she wanted us to take us from 1970′s Kabul to 2012 Kabul.  Girls must fight bias with knowledge, just as boys must fight bias with knowledge.  

      I’m actually more fearful for my 2 year old son than daughters because, after growing up with four brothers, I know how important porn was for them during their teenage years.  But in the early 80′s, they could only get their hands on a rare hardcopy once or twice a year.  In this day and age, young men can become sexually dysfunctional because of an over-reliance on readily available porn and live very frustrated, isolated, and sad lives.  What is internet porn, or the availability of public porn, going to be like in 2025?  I would like my son to learn to moderate it and understand its place in the big picture of life before he goes off to college.      

  • Niaman3

    I have three kids (two girls and one boy (two teens)). I can’t help buy think that some of these comments come from those with no children or from what I consider in active parents. What the author was saying goes beyond “wishing” the best for my child but also giving them the tools to produce what best for them. It’s important to teach your children principles and morals that they “should” have. Yes! teach them that Nice, proactive, focused girls get an education that will be one of many tools towards attaining a “wonderful life”. Will my children fail, possibly (hey, I have three, it may happen lol) but does that possibility keep me from pushing, talking, sheltering, investigating, inspecting, etc….. NO! I am a parent it’s my job, and it doesn’t end. It changes, but it doesn’t end. those of who are married with children and have parents know that it doesn’t end. The Authors views may seem “old fashion” but we need some, if not all parents to revisit these “old fashioned” principles or it’s my belief/opinion that what’s happening now with our boys and girls will be happening in early elementry. Heck in some schools and homes, it’s already happening.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Thanks for admitting that your children may fail.  That is one of the healthiest ways to ensure sucess!  I raised decent human beings, that are decent parents, and decent citizens.  I acknowledged the chance they would fail, and helped them consider the choices.

  • Scarlett

    Caitlin disregarded divorced parent households – saying without a strong male figure a woman would be wondering “Am I Lovable by an adult male?” – Coming from a divorced family, with both parents being supportive of the kids – I know my worth is not based on what a male thinks of me and a measure of a healthy adolescence is not just a relationship in high school. It is important to show both young females and males the importance of strong role models in life. Locking one gender up away from technology does not solve the cultural issue, it blocks them and doesn’t allow the teenager a chance to navigate their independence and freedom on their own. Caitlin’s opinion is a very heterosexist opinion and disregards the necessary conversations with teens about sexuality which encourage healthy relationships. 

  • Jessica

    Flanagan’s assertion on the show that better parenting and more sheltering would lead to fewer women dating men who “didn’t treat them well” in high school is ridiculous.  The issue is not poor parenting, or oversexualization, or exposure to porn and THE INTERNET IN GENERAL (what?!); the issue is a question of maturity levels and experience in relationships.  I find it so offensive that Flanagan attempts to imply that Carmon’s dating experience in high school was somehow a consequence of her bedroom Internet connection, and then makes this generalization across the board to all women who have dated someone who didn’t treat them well.  

    Flanagan literally had me smacking myself in the face when she attempted to lay the blame on the women in imperfect relationships and marriages for their failure to “plan out” how to find the perfect mate.Thanks to Irin Carmon for her articulate and focused responses to Ms. Flanagan’s outrageous and unbased claims. 

  • Dgann

    I wonder if Irin Carmon would turn down a seat on a life boat, reasoning that “Women and Children first” was an outdated sexist treatment of women?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_G72A6HC7ECDAPKXQPXXEFBV3WQ B

      Yes, I’m guessing she would.  Because it is. Children need to be safe first, of course, but however that happens is what makes sense.

  • GumboGirl

    As a mother of a thirteen-year-old daughter, Flanagan’s observations were right on target. We are the first set of parents dealing with the world of instant access to young adolescents through means of the internet and cell phone communications. This world can be especially dark and cruel to girls as they try to manuever through the emotional turmoil of puberty.

    My husband and I were confronting issues at eleven and twelve that we were expecting during the middle teens. After my daughter turned to suicidal thoughts, we took away her cell phone, Facebook and moved her to a small school where many parents restrict the use of the internet and texting.

    What happened during her time of withdrawal was amazing - she began to love herself again. She now seems comfortable being a
    young teen again thinking about boys and the excitement of the coming years without being in such a rush to get there.

  • http://www.helenepstein.com/ Helen Epstein

    I have not read Flanagan’s earlier work but I agree with what she’s arguing in this one. As I have sons, I have been relieved of some — not all — of the difficult discussions that concerned mothers have to have with their daughters these days. There’s NO QUESTION  that the culture is poisonous for girls right now. That’s one of the reasons so many families are retreating to religious schools and fundamentalist positions of all kinds. In Cambridge, Ma  the schools seemed to have solved the problem of egalitarian education but they left the girls unprepared to deal with life outside the classroom.

    • Tina

      Every night, on regular cable TV stations, there are murders of beautiful women in their twenties who were killed while dancing in a pole bar or while wearing very little.  Every single night!  

  • Boston Parent in Distress

    I didn’t even hear the show, but I have heard the argument and generally have found it to be true.

    Liberated girls are so much happier than their mothers. They get to take Plan B after unprotected sex, the get to starve themselves into size 4 bodies, and they get to wait until their 30s to marry so that they can go into fertility clinics to start a family.

    Boys, well then, they get to set up a virtual receiving line for oral sex (remember Milton Academy?), they are enrolling in college at decreasing rates, and they are growing up to abandon their families in breathtaking numbers.

    The conclusion of feminists? We don’t need men…we need their sperm. The glass ceiling is still not shattered, we must push harder. The joy of multiple orgasms is bliss.

    Someone like Flanagan comes along and questions it all. And the attacks from the crazed NPR viewership follow while Ashbrook huffs and puffs through another interview.

    We are making some tragic decisions for the next generation. It is very sad, and the defense of the new status quo confirms Bob Bork’s assertion that we are “Slouching Toward Gomorrah”.

    When a woman speaks up, she is excoriated by other women.

    Don’t spoil the secret, Caitlin!

    • Utahowl

      Excuse me, but as a feminist of long standing, i reject your statement that feminists say “we don’t need men..ect.”  This is a total distortion of feminism, repeated by people who are either ignorant or hostile to feminism and feminists. God forbid Boston Parent would actually research the history of feminism over the past 4 decades in the US.

    • TFRX

      I gotta ask, “Parent”: Male or female?

      I have my guess. How many women out there are saying “Yeah, we really shoulda listened to Robert (Lost an Up or Down Vote) Bork”?

      You consider this message board “crazed”. Have you been to a wingnut comment thread lately?

    • velvet clinkscales

      why are you commenting if you didn’t bother to listen to the show??

  • Julia

    When the popular and consumer driven media and entertainment industries are aimed a specific and lopsided market, that being young men aged 13 to 25, and that market — for profit — explores physical and/or sexual violence and porn, and the flipside for young girls of the same age bracket is Princess, Princess, Princess….pray tell, what impact did you think it would have, America, on your young people? Stop buying the violent video games and movies, stop buying the Disney junk (because that is what it is-junk); your kids will be better off physically and emotionally.

    • Nashville Mom

      But look at it logically, the solution of “stop buying it” doesn’t remedy the situation. You said the market is geared to 13 to 25.  Sons and daughters turn 18 or 19 and buy the violent video game or sign up for the pole dancing exercise class at college for another 5 or 6 years.  It doesn’t matter if you allow your children to have it or not.  What matters is if you show them and teach them how it should fit into the bigger picture (which includes a lot of things for different families–values).

      • Julia

        Sorry, meant to post here.  It does matter if you buy it or not. You can set an example for kids by being the kind of adult you would like for them to grow into.  Stop buying it. When  the kid asks why s/he can’t have it…. this begins a conversation of “why” and can explore the message in the madness of these products. Knowledge is power.

  • Julia

    It does matter if you buy it or not. You can set an example for kids by being the kind of adult you would like for them to grow into.  Stop buying it. When  the kid asks why s/he can’t have it…. this begins a conversation of “why” and can explore the message in the madness of these products. Knowledge is power.

    • Nashville Mom

      It may matter, but its not a solution.  Both of my daughters were very much into the princess culture…I had numerous request to draw a “princess and a castle,” and now with my son it’s a “knight with a sword knocking down another guy.”  It starts from the fairy tale books, not the media.  It’s inherit in all children to indulge in their imaginations.  What the market has turned that into is too violent and over-the-top-all-about-looks-instead-of-substance in most cases (i.e. do I take my girls to get a princess mani/pedi at age 5? No.)  But just because Mom doesn’t buy it doesn’t mean they’re not going to be into popular culture as soon as their out of your line of vision.  And my point is, the Solution is to teach them how to moderate popular culture, how to recognize its influence on people and perhaps themselves, and how important it is to focus on people, not things…not letting something as silly as entertainment get the focus off of people.

      • Julia

        I never said it was a solution, let alone THE solution, one, but I do think it helps. My parents did not buy me Barbie dolls or engage in the Disney Princess machine. And when my friends had those things, I just didn’t care for it. My parents set an example and it never seemed important enough to hit my radar as a child because they did not dwell on it. So I was interested in other things.

        And two, I agree with your above statements about moderating pop culture.

        • Nashville Mom

          That’s teaching your children to moderate their pop culture, not only you moderating it….

          My parents didn’t buy me Barbie either, and the message why from my Mom was because she didn’t want me to focus all on looks, like Barbie, but on substance.  Which I could understand because although still pretty, my Mom’s beauty had began to fade with age.  But my friend Julie* had the whole town of Barbie and we played with them religiously everyday until 6th grade.  Barbie was Tammy Wynet with a wonderful voice…Barbie got a divorce and met another man, but she liked the old Ken with the plastic hair better than the one with the unruly locks…Towards the end of our Barbie phase, we made an anatomically correct Barbie with a sharpie marker which her mother found and asked Why? over and over…we just stared at her blankly. But the reason “why” was because we had watch the Blue Lagoon and Fast Times at Ridgemont High on the Movie Channel while she was at work.  When Julie got her period we quit playing with Barbie and practiced our sports (she gymnastics and me soccer).  We both turned out to be highly functioning adults and honestly, quite responsible and functional seniors in highschool and in college in terms of our sexual encounters. But there were girls who had terrible sexual encounters, unsafe sexual encounters (this was when AIDs had just surfaced in heterosexual America), and those that used sex to win some popularity contest in their head…looking back they seemed like unhappy people.  

          *named changed to protect the innocent

    • Longfellows Evangeline

      Great comment.  But after the princess stage, and the pseudoprincess stage (American Girl)  then you have reality and evangelicals don’t want any truth spoken to their children.  No they would rather they be abused for their ignorance by  US Congressmen in the Page program.  The predators depend on them having been brought up in the ‘adoring church community’ that they pander to, and then pluck the ‘appropriately groomed’, giving it up to the country.  While they refuse to allow truth to be spoken to the public school kids, and make political bucks on repeating it over and over, and get pandered to by the ‘carpetbagger’ politics of the ‘Main Chance’ party, whose skills of manipulating innocence are well honed.  

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Thanks for speaking out about this travesty!

  • Anonymous

    I haven’t read the book yet, but I will look for it. However, I found much to disagree with in what Flanagan said in this interview. This concept of “girl land” seems to entrench the stereotypes of “good” girls and “bad” girls. Flanagan seems to be advocating a stereotypical “girly” childhood or “girl land” where parents must protect and shelter girls in a pink frilly lacy bedroom with a modicum of supervised sports, science and math. This idea that girls are ‘”princesses”, I think is destructive. She seems to advocate a very suburban middle class culture where “good” girls are ”princesses” and it is essential that they make an idealized notion of monogamous heterosexual romance and finding a proper respectable “prince”  a central focus of their lives. The reality is that there are many confident young women that never had this privlege or 

    • Utahowl

      Tom is the one who kept saying “locking girls up in a frilly pink bedroom.”  I never heard Caitlin say that,and I was disappointed in Tom for painting her into this frilly pink corner.  Interestingly, I thought that Erin was the one who was advocating a middle-upper class model, with her repeated statements that she grow up “in a safe community with both parents.”  There are a tremendous number of teens (both genders) who are growing up in UNSAFE communities, with a single, or even 2, parents who are so consumed with trying to keep a roof over the family’s heads that they have little or no time to provide the help that Caitlyn says is necessary, or that Erin admits is necessary.  As a charter member of feminism’s Second Wave, I have been appalled that the present “popular culture” can be considered feminist in any way, when it is so clearly biased to male sexual fantasies and desires (free sex, on demand, of any kind – or the girl is ( as one young woman said to me) accused of having psychological hangups).  This is so not a choice between old-style patriarchal roles for women vs. freedom Uber Alles.  Moderation in all things, say I.  Some young women are very independent, strong personalities from the get-go, as Erin obviously was/is.  Lots more – and I met them in the Womens Movement – are not nearly so resilient and sure about themselves.  This is not because they are lesser – they are just on a different developmental curve, with different personality traits.  The current hyper-sexualized culture damages boys, who wind up with totally distorted ideas about what it takes to sustain relationships, and girls, who are victimized in droves.

  • Michele Duncan

    Tom, I’ve always loved your program and you’ve always seemed unbiased. But today I was disappointed. I felt like you were ganging up and attacking Caitlin Flanagan. I did get the impression from her that we should lock our teen girls up and not allow them to experience life as our culture is today, but to provide some escapes for them that would allow them to look into themselves and see what they want out of teen hood, boyfriends etc. All of the electronic interfacing we have today draws them deeper in the already teen “drama” they face on a daily basis. And pulling themselves away from it is like asking a lot of them. You get sucked in and it’s hard to pull away, it is for anyone. I believe Caitlin was saying that as parents, caregivers and friends, that we owe it to our teen girls to provide somewhere, sometime a place and time of serenity away from the chaos of the world.  A place with no peer pressure. Being a mother of three teenagers, a boy 16, two girls age 14 and 13, I am in the thick of it now. It is EXHAUSTING for me and my husband to keep up with all their doings. This includes computer history, texting, tumblr, facebook etc….I don’t feel I do a good job at it. Some days I have just enough energy to pray that they will all turn out ok, despite the world we live in. After hearing Caitlin I pledge to do and know more, for the sake of my children.. M. Duncan, Columbia, SC

    • Micheleduncan

      It’s Michele again..I meant I did NOT get the impression…

    • Yobo

      I think I would have felt a little better about Flanagan’s views if she had said she wanted more “support” to be given to girls as they journey into adulthood and sexuality. She admits that older women are more prepared for the intricacies of sex and relationships with men (and, yes, the possible dangers) than younger women and girls, but she doesn’t seem to realize that most people gain such compentence through experience (good and bad).

      It makes my skin crawl to hear Flanagan adovating all  this “protection” and “supervision” of girls, leaving boys completely out of the mix, and never addressing the point at which a girl/young woman should be allowed (i.e. by others, in Flanagan’s world) to finally experience her sexuality, to set her own terms and and (if need be) to protect herself from harm. When does it end? I suspect Flanagan secretly believes that the “protection” (i.e. dependence) of women should be lifelong (“for her own good, since she’s so vulnerable…”).

  • Julia

    Still listening to the show—>Oh dear lord, Caitlin. A high school girl kissing a few frogs in high school, this is NORMAL, hence the metaphor. The boys probably feel the same way. If every date were perfect it would not be a verb, dating. It’s a process, not a single destination.

  • Merary

    To add to the things I am now thankful for, not being parented by Caitlan Flanagan.  She barely listens!  Yes parent involvement and guidance are key to a good up bring but sheltering leads to children associating deviance to basic forms of communication. It is 2012, the internet exist and it’s useful!!   Thank you Irin, for listening and responding honestly and directly despite her condescending and dismissive tone.  

  • Jennifer

    Caitlin Flanagan was so condescending and had nothing new or interesting to say.  Thank you to Irin Carmon for challenging her.  The answer to the many problems that girls today face is to not let them have the internet in their room?  Are you serious??

  • Rmarius2000

    Say what you want, but there is some truth to taken from what the author says. Many young women are very unhappy because of the types of relationships they end up in. And many of those unhappy young women end up being unhappy women. 

    Young men also need to be challenged on their behavior. We complain about the effects of these lifestyles (increase in single mothers, hookup culture, HIV/AIDS, etc.), but we don’t want to discuss the real issues. I’m a guy and I’ve dated and spoken to women who want one thing (a marriage with a nice guy), but engage in behavior that will make it hard for them to find a nice guy, because they are looking for a different kind of woman. Feminists tend to have a knee jerk reaction to some of these issues, but they issues that need to be discussed honestly.

    We need to stop looking for princes and princesses and look for responsible adults. 

    I do think the host was somewhat unfair.

    • Yobo

      THANK YOU, Rmarius, for stating the obvious point (which is so often sidestepped) — let’s also look at boys and their behavior toward girls. So often, we talk about the girls’ problems as if they have nothing to do with boys. Then we sequester the girls, effectively locking up the victims and letting the perpetrators run free. 

      Who is talking to boys to make sure they are developing healthy expectations of sex and relationships? Most boys learn about sex from the internet — if there’s no one there (in their real lives, who will talk openly and honestly about sex) to explain the difference between porn and the real world, no wonder they treat girls so badly!

  • Nashville Mom

    Caitlyn seems to be complicating the process of parenting…which is actually more simple than she makes it out to be.  Teenagers are a pain in the neck, and even if you do her and all the experts recommendations, they’re still going to be a pain in the neck.  But rest assured there is a light at the end of phase.  I know all my friends and my experiments in adolescence were influenced by the pop culture we grew up in.  My adolescence was in some ways shaped by Michael Jackson, Prince, the Blue Lagoon, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High…and how that is better that Facebook, I don’t understand.  But my major influence in dealing with boys and young men was the relationship I witnessed my parents having.  This and nothing else is the number one influence a parent has in a daughter’s life.  Not what mom and dad are trying to teach, but how mom and dad live with one another–fight, make-up, and love.  And I am sure there are young men, no matter how out of control crazy pop culture/entertainment industry becomes, that are influenced by their parent’s daily lives as well.  Don’t be an intrusive “helicopter mom/dad.” The best lessons learned are those learned from practice.  But make sure you and your husband/partner are modeling, or at least making an effort to model, functional behavior for both your daughters and sons.  And yes, if one parent is missing, you are placing your kid at a disadvantage…not a disadvantage that they can’t overcome, but it is what it is.

  • Rmarius2000

    We have a society that idolizes Kim Kardassian and other celebrities. Young girls get plastic surgery before they are 18 to fit a particular look. HIV/ AIDS has really taken a toll in minority communities (I’m black). Many people still engage in sexual activities that are mind boggling in this age of HIV/ AIDs. We celebrate this with a “good for you, explore your inner self”! There are consequences to everything, something we seem to have forgotten and something some of our young people never learned.

    • Yobo

      Yes, it’s very frustrating when you try to express a little caution or self-restraint and you are treated as if you are just an old-fashioned prude. It is truly, as the guest said, very upsetting that girls have come to see their role as “servicing men’s sexual needs” and think they are “liberated.” I am the aunt to several teenage neices and their friends, and it seems that they don’t see how they are being used, even though they are aware that they feel unfulfilled in their relationships with boys. I’m totally a feminist, but I’m disappointed that our culture has misconstrued sexual liberation with a nearly complete disregard of girls’ emotional lives.

  • GumboGirl

    Many are writing in support of Irin Carmon today, but I thought although well spoken she cannot understand what it is like to raise a young woman with exposure to the ills of the internet and texting without proper boundaries. She is in her late twenties which means she probably is not parenting a girl of this age yet. To draw on her own background is unfair because Facebook and cell phones were not around fifteen years ago.

    • Longfellows Evangeline

      What people were trying to say is that monitoring the internet ‘is a given’  ”goes without saying’ as age appropriate.  There are many wive and girl friends that have to monitor how their husbands and boyfriends spend their time on the internet, and frequently find out when computer problems require service and the “geeks’ are very careful when approaching this issue with the wive of lawyers, politicians, etc., etc., and the religious class especially.  Boys will be boys.  You can’t fight Mother Nature, you have to manage it.  It is what mothers have to do with their daughters, teach them this art.  

      • Yobo

        Would it be too much to ask that the husbands and boyfriends exercise a little self-restraint? That they be asked to try a little harder to value and embrace the full spectrum of intimate behaviors (not just sexual intimacy)? Emotional intimacy is also a natural thing but in American culture it is too often overlooked or presented as a burden on men. Why does Flanagan talk about limiting girls’ access to the internet but not boys’????? It’s a very, very weird to oversight.

        • Longfellows Evangeline

          You can ask, but they must experience it themselves.  You can find a neurobiologist to explain this to you.  It can be gotten over.  Real life can be much better than a fantasy life, no matter how painful and up and down.  Children need to know  this by seeing real confrontation, real compromise, and honest attempts to solve issues in the daily lives of their family and parents.  It i those that live ‘fairy tale’ appearances with houses big enough that they can’t hear the parties in the basement, that are always appalled at their own children, if they ever find out.  They are always appalled at those of the lower castes and blame it on breeding, ‘dontcha know.’ I suspect the author has no sons and had know brothers, and her male relatives felt it was useless trying to explain things to her.  She has her ways and she found a publisher.  I don’t doubt her sincerity.  She has limited experience, but things she knows and understands more than she does.  Her scope is narrow.  What’s new.  It will be trendy with the  ladies that lunch, and the “Friends of the Library’

          • Kkhughes28_

            she has twin sons

        • Terry Tree Tree

          I raised my sons to exercise restraint, and show ladies ( girls to women), respect.  They were told the consequences of the actions that I could anticipate.
              Their wives, and ex-girlfriends seemed to appreciate them.

  • Maggie Glass

    In theory, Flanagan and Carmon are both concerned with the same things: how to bring up strong, capable, sexually healthy girls in a potentially poisonous atmosphere. But I found myself endlessly frustrated with Flanagan’s condescension towards Carmon, who handled herself with poise and intelligence. Flanagan doesn’t understand that the internet and texting is not the problem. Misogyny, rape, sexual assault, sexism, sexualization of young girls – these are all problems that exist irrespective of what medium they travel through. (This was pointed out, sadly, with the anecdote of the attempted date rape Flanagan experienced during supposedly more innocent times). I think these are complicated issues, but I also think that young girls are complicated. They are not innocent, fragile flowers and they are not sexually liberated, free adults. They are navigating a personal journey between these poles and Carmon thoughtfully pointed out ways in which we can encourage them (and boys as well) to be safe and self-protecting on that journey. 

  • BrRap

    Something to keep in mind is that young girls and women usually pay a much higher price when early sexual activity goes wrong- such as pregnancy, STD’s that go undiagnosed, and increased risk of cervical cancer.  It’s hard to be a leader and innovator when you’re trying to raise an infant or undergoing treatment early in your life. The very real hazards of early sexuality could impede a girl’s ability to achieve the parity that all women deserve no matter what she decides to do. True feminists should not get too upset about delaying some sexual exposure because a young girl or woman is so much more than just a sexual being.  There are some elements today in my circle of family and friends that are encouraging early sexualization through clothes, makeup, music, and behavior not to allow them to have sex, but to be “popular”. The need for their daughters and by extension them to be popular at all costs is demeaning to girls and puts them at higher risk of unintended pregnancies and disease and to my mind is directly counter to feminist ideals.  

    I have not read the book, but the idea of putting the brakes on a little bit sounds appealing to this mother of a 12 year old.

  • Yobo

    I agreed with many of Flanagan’s points regarding girls internal lives, but when she started to suggest solutions that, effectively, limit girls (without addressing boys, i.e. the perpetrators of the behavior she describes as dangerous or damaging to girls) — that’s where I lost it.

    So, so many of the problems we see in girls stems from the way some boys treat them. Certainly not ALL boys (Do I have to say that?), but if even some boys behave badly, it can have a devastating effect on a girl’s outlook and opportunities. Then consider broader social attitudes that indicate a higher value is given to boys and men. Sometimes it is done simply and directly, and sometimes the value is accorded indirectly, by assigning a higher value to those who are stronger, meaner, higher-earners and other stereotypical traits of maleness (i.e. what men are “supposed to be”), or by simply overlooking women’s accomplishments—just never mentioning them. Even women do this, consciously or unconsciously. (My mother was totally sexist, for example, though she would never think so herself.) Girls get the message. This sexism is more subtle now that our culture also embraces “feminist” ideals, but it is definitely still there.

    Why DON”T we ever talk about boys in connection with gender issues? Seems like some kind of collective blind spot! Boys’ culture is equally brutal to other boys, and many people would agree that male culture contributes to boys’/men’s bad behavior toward girls and women. Some never grow out of it, and you see men behaving as if they’re still under the influence (i.e. kinda scared) of being taunted by other men, or worse, you actually see grown men who DO taunt other grown men for being too “soft,” etc. (So they engage in a little woman-bashing and it keeps the bullies off their backs.) Fortunately I think there are many men who feel liberated by “feminist” attitudes that allow a wider range of traits to both genders. But boys and younger men are still extremely vulnerable to the brutality of male culture and they struggle with it, maybe even more than ever, now that “proving your manhood” in the modern era can be difficult (which is a whole other topic for discussion).

    My main point is:
    Often, girls/young women become enmeshed in the boys’ struggles with their own maleness in a way that doesn’t happen the other way ‘round. Girls would be well-served if boys’ struggles would be addressed more effectively in our culture.

  • Roy Mac

    This  Flannagan woman needs to get a grip.  She presents with too much of a mid-20th century school-teacher attitude; i.e., “don’t question me, I have a college degree and I know how to do this.”  2 thumbs down.

  • Journey

    What is the direct link she keeps implying with the over-sexualization of girls due to, mainly, the internet, and the feminist movement?  The internet happened…to everyone. She doesn’t pay any attention to the impact of increased pornography on boys (that might equally lead to hook-up culture), or our culture at a whole at any age.  Older adults are also finding easier access to child pornography – that is likely having a negative impact as well.  She repeatedly cites sports and education as positives but at the same time groups them as if a package deal with hook-up culture.  This discussion amounts to basic relationship & human values and has nothing to do with feminism.

  • Rachel

    You act as if girls don’t want sex and only want serious relationships. This is untrue. Many girls can have positive sexual relationships that they can learn and grow from.

    • Molesoul40

      This is true, but only if girls are given the parenting and guidance that helps them develop good self esteem, critical thinking skills, and hope for the future.  Even still, the cultural demands on young girls are extremely powerful, especially in their own peer groups.  It takes either a very strong will or the good fortune of growing up in a healthy social environment (e.g., a school that champions sports for girls or that emphasizes teaching self-respect).

  • Yobo

    In regards to boys responding to girls’ expectations and standards for the relationship, I just don’t see that happening. Boys don’t respond to girls the same way they did in an earlier era. Many boys today are not even aware that they should be expected to try to impress a girl to gain her affection. In fact,  it is a source of pain and confusion to many boys why *other* boys get so much sexual attention from girls (while they, themselves, don’t). They think sex just happens, and that if they should have to do anything such as find an emotional connection and build a relationship with a girl (as suggested by Flanagan), it’s just a manipulation meant to humiliate him. (Although, he will probably feel that even that is acceptable if it means he will ”score,” depending on how confident he feels in his ability to attract attention of a purely sexual kind — remaining a virgin is that absolute worst thing for adolescent boys nowadays). I’m telling you, many boys are seriously confused.

    But it’s not their fault. Respect for girls, the emotional aspects of sex, and how to overcome the fear of relationships and emotional intimacy (that are natural but can be overwhelming for boys) – all of these need to be made explicit to boys. And the coaching has to come from men. On a regular and open basis. Did I mention that it all needs to be discussed explicitly?  It is simply asking too much of boys, in our culture, the way it is now, to expect that they will pick it up on their own (as Flanagan says) simply because girls demand it.  (For one thing, the idea of sex as the end-all-be-all is so aggressively promoted in our culture that it is confusing for adolescent boys. Most boys rarely spend time with their fathers, and when they do, they are rarely talking about how to build respectful and balanced relationships with girls. The idea is laughable in this day and age, however much it would benefit our boys.)

  • Roy Mac

    Tom–WTF??  57 minutes into the program you mention that neither of Flannagan’s parents had fathers??  You think that might have been of interest to your listeners???

    • Terry Tree Tree

      THAT is a serious omission!   It explains a LOT about her ideas!

      • Yobo

        You’re right about that — how many times did she mention “abandoners” and “abandoning men”?  I wondered about it then, now I understand.

  • Journey

    “find a man who treats you like a princess.”  I agree that’s nice, but unfortunately being treated like a princess from a fairytale also means you can’t go out by yourself, have a career, have any independence, make any important decisions in the castle… etc.  Let’s be thorough on the fairytale analysis.  She wrecklessly glorifies it.

    All of her points about the issues girls struggle with are applicable to all people — maintain high standards for how you are treated, be particular who you spend your time with, etc.

    She links modern “independence” with submission to adolescent hook-up culture that often is demeaning to girls.  Does not work that way.  Girls who play sports are statistically less likely to stay in abusive relationships (WSF, “Her Life Depends on It”), also.  She is loading the term “independence”.

    And no, I don’t believe girls’ adolescent relationships were necessarily any better in the 1950s.

    • Longfellows Evangeline

      “find a man who treats you like a princess.”  I agree, this is a fairy tale.  I just read about Callista Ginrich, and I think she required the ‘Crown Jewels” first  to marry the man, and they are her personal property when she leaves.  She doen’t believe in fairy tales, but she believes in telling them and putting on the dog.

      • http://www.facebook.com/Woodgt Gregory Wood

        They are out there, they just have other flaws that make them less desirable. ( less attractive, nerdy, not as popular.) Not traits most women look for

  • Jenny Clark

    A positive role model is important in raising kids, however there nothing more poisonous then creating an fairy tale of lies in the minds of young girls. Listen, parents have to Talk Talk Talk and talk, have a interactive conversations with their children.  Let them explored with cautious what the real world is about.  Sex will happen when they are ready. If one advice and explains the consequences sex can bring in one’s they will used their best judgement.  Hiding the truth of our real is no help.  Coming from an extreme- conservative, religious & professional Parents (Both Dr.) They never gave me the freedom to experience the real world. They try to keep me in an imaginary crystal box and when I had a window of opportunity to get out of it, I end up with my feet in mud. Now at age of 29 I have two beautiful teenagers 17 & 13 (Do the Math) -J

    • Terry Tree Tree

      At least you have learned a lot of parental wisdom, from you own mistakes.  I’ll bet you are smart enough to share them with your children, and tell them you hope they don’t make the same mistakes, because the consequences could be worse?
         Enjoy them the best you can, while giving them the wisdom of your experience and truth.

  • Al

    as a 20 something man… I couldn’t make heads or tails of something. She decried the hookup culture and group socialization, but honestly, most people in my generation weren’t allowed to date! Now hanging out in groups is also frowned upon? Hell, what next, mandatory segregated schools?

  • Real

    I won’t be reading Flanagan’s book.  Its not the kind of fiction I would enjoy.  Too far from reality.  She should have done more research.  Or may she just doesn’t have any interest in reality. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/Woodgt Gregory Wood

    I was pretty upset about this misguided book. I really wanted to call in. This book was a huge generalization that plays on parents fears to make a profit. There is no such thing as a fix-all book for parenting, if there was, they would be richer than Trump. Because we are all so unique, our children have unique personalities and respond differently.
    You child might be great with an open open with guidance and talk about sexuality and such, others might need to be exposed in a different manner. In fact even my own kids, i raise them based on their desire to learn and take on responsibilities, and their maturity and desire to mimic social behavior.

    In other words, we all different, sheltering is the worst you can do, but giving them a controlled exposure to what life is going to be like as they get older and teach them the consequences, you can then, at least you give them the best tools for success.

  • Marcia Barager

    I may not agree with everything Caitlin has to say, but girls will always have to carry the bulk of sexual responsibility until men and boys are socialized to control their own.  She is right that girls have so much more at stake.  I am a feminist, but what the movement STILL refuses to recognize is that we are inherently different (by gender) and acknowledging that does not imply superiority of either gender. You only have to watch the movie “American Pie” to see how adolescent girls are introduced to their own sexuality.  The very sad thing is that this is considered a lighthearted comedy.

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Thanks for your analysis and insight.

    • Jules

      Just want to make sure that you’re aware that American Pie is a fictional movie, not a documentary. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AKVGKO4KZ4P5HWIEC4E2I2NMHY Dorian

    While she has some valid concerns, her solutions are entirely misguided.  First of all, how on earth does barring a girl from using the internet in her room “protect her.”  It isolates her.  Furthermore, the internet is more than porn (despite the witty Avenue Q song).  The internet provides a way for us to have access to news, to culture, to instantaneous knowledge on any subject.  Furthermore, it’s a tool for expression and connection, things that teens (boys and girls) need.

    This isn’t the 1950s.  There’s nothing that “girls” should be protected from that boys shouldn’t be.  Unsafe sex and reckless usage of drugs and alcohol are certainly problems in modern society, but you can’t equate that with a pornographic image or video or FACEBOOK, my God, they victimized facebook.

  • Maz

    I agree with Irin’s first point, we should also be looking at how we socialise boys/young men, not only just to ensure that they become respectful partners of women, but also to make boys aware of the pressures and messages that popular culture sends their way. Caitlin’s argument which takes girls as the key focus runs the risk of not only abdicating responsibility towards supporting boys, but also essentialising them as marauding hyper-sexualised beings who are unable to think above the waist.

    Great discussion…one that should be continued

    • revolve

      When i was a adolescent i admit i was hyper-sexualized–sex sex sex was always on the mind–women were sexual objects.  now I didn’t treat them that way, but my instincts wanted to.  My intellect, my heart prevented this.  I know that some women are sexually driven but maybe not in the same way.  isn’t true women become very sexualized in the thirties–hormones.  And men are charged at 18.  I;m not sure young girls, in general, are sexual–they maybe conform to society hyper-sexualized sensationalism and misguided need to be liked, but are they really sexual?  Even in nature, the female resists the male–not really concerned with sex.  A male must spread the seed.  In this way, marriage is absurd.  We should be spreading seeds–in mutual consent.

      please tell me if i am wrong.

      everyone needs support.  get a grip OP guest.

      • Shaza

        “I;m not sure young girls, in general, are sexual”

        Lol what?  have you ever known a teenage girl?  You’re buying right into the societal lie that women don’t desire sex.  I was horny as all get-out when I was a teen, and I know my many girl friends were as well.

      • Yobo

        Here, at 3:23 a.m. you say that when you were an adolescent, you treated women as “objects” (“sexual objects”). 20 Minutes later, you say you treated girls with respect.  Perhaps you are not being entirely honest with yourself…?

        As for your other, um, thoughts in this posting, well, you really need to consider how ridiculous you sound. For example, “even in nature….”

      • Samsara

        I had all kinds of sexual fantasies at 16. Please stop promoting this crap. The question is what to do with sexual feelings – for both genders. My god, girls are not pretty smelling flowers. 

  • revolve

    protecting innocence is not protecting a person’s health or dignity.  The naive girl will easily be manipulated and exploited by hungry boys.  better they know how sexualized reality is.  Arm them with wisdom and clear examples of integrity.  Dont hide them and shelter them–you will harm them.  teach them discerning taste.  Dear, this is sensational, and this is fairly objective and critical.  Dont believe everything you hear and see.  Do what feels right, listen to your gut.  This woman is exploiting peoples emotions to sell books.  i am sure her audience is republican and christian.

  • revolve

    at 22minutes–she makes perfect sense to me.  Tho, that should not be the only criteria.

  • revolve

    Shouldn’t men be treated with respect and dignity as well.  the prince and princess theme is inflating expectations–people have flaws, and sometimes they the ogre, not the prince–humanity.  Do you want to be with a human being or a cartoon?

  • revolve

    Look princess caitlin–i am a man.  in high school i was handsome, kind, fun, outgoing, smart, spontaneous, and curious–yet all my girlfriends cheated on me.  i was very respectful.  its not always what they want.  I was even quite a rebel, but not an ass.  Young girls are attracted to egoistical, unkind people.  So get over this oh so many women were mistreated–men are often mistreated!

  • revolve

    everyone must kiss a few frogs–its a growing experience.  mistakes, unkind situations are necessary

  • revolve

    these conservative women raise their children under tyranny–no wonder they vote the way they do–they are tyrants.  i hate facebook but i would never forbid it.

  • revolve

    what are they going to find on the internet they cant or wont find in real life…?  get a grip lady.  Tyrant.

    • Gross

      reddit.com/r/spacedicks  tell me that a girl will find anything like that in real life.

  • The Chosen One

    Flanagan is exposed as the creepy conservative she is. She attempts to disguise her agenda, but fails. She truly thinks if we could only time-travel to 1950 and pretend June and Ward would raise all our Wallys and Theodores, Ronald Reagan’s vision of Godly and Powerful America would finally be realized. Her condescension to Irin tells all. Flanagan is a dyed-in-the-wool GOP operative who is herself terrified of all the sexy time going on around her. Sex scares the hell out of conservatives. Sex is still a puritanical issue deep in the DNA of these bible beaters. And Flanagan believes girls are uncritical thinkers unable to make sense of the world around them. This, too, is classic conservative nonsense. In Flanagan’s fevered argument for keeping girls protected, she opts for rooms without internet and for girls to use sex as a bargaining chip to get guys to act right. If guys think a vagina waits at the end of the line, they’ll do anything. Good grief, could Flanagan be more messed up? For young girls struggling with the onset of adulthood, let’s opt for education, not indoctrination.

    • Squarebird

      “creepy conservative”?  A bit paranoid and bigoted, are we not?

  • Anonymous
  • Laurarmc

    I just listened to this, and I’m glad I wasn’t listening live in my car, because I’d have been on the phone. Infuriating.

    1: My blood is boiling at Ms. Flanagan’s false dichotomy. There is more to parenting than either buying into Flanagan’s work or wanting to “send girls off” without guidance, armed with dental dams for the blow jobs that we apparently accept as inevitable.

    2: Kids DO go on “conventional dates, Ms. Flanagan. And as the parent of a boy and an advisor to adolescent girls and boys, I talk to them openly about how boys and girls think of attraction and sex, the differences and the similarities, and what respectful, responsible relationships and actions look like. Judging from the kids I’ve watched mature to adulthood, we’re not doing a bad job.

    3: We don’t put computers in the bedroom, basically because we want to monitor safety to some extent. For our SON. But we also have very frank conversations about what we’re concerned about. With our SON and the girls in our lives. We don’t keep them off Facebook, we set up rules and guidelines and go into that world with them.

    While some of the notes Flanagan hits are valid (talking to girls about setting standards, for instance), her condescension is deeply insulting and her total rejection of modern reality is potentially really harmful.

    • Sjjcov

      I WAS driving in my car and almost ran off of the highway!  I would have appreciated a warning from Mr. Ashbrook prior to listening to this segment of the program.  In addition, I was disappointed that no one mentioned the opportunities to raise our boys like gentleman…and protecting them!  Was this a 1950′s re-broadcast?

      • Bunit

        To bad view point that are slightly counter to yours are so upsetting. You are like the Bill O’Reilly of the left. Funny too, since what Flanagan was saying was that teaching woman to accept any way a guy acts simply for the sake of open sexuality isn’t progressive. That in fact sound progressive to me.

    • Ymason6of10

      I like your points and believe that your analysis is valid. I think and know from having been interviewed a few times on the radio that it is hard to sum up ones findings, feelings and beliefs in 20 minutes. And we all blunder…at least on a live talk show.

  • TY

    Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair

  • Shaza

    No one has mentioned yet how freaking heteronormative this whole thing is.  What about teen girls who date girls, girls with lesbian parents, girls with gay dads??  Flanagan’s arguments just act like they’re not even a possibility.

    • Ymason6of10

      Good point

    • Squarebird

      silly point

  • Steve

    I found it instructive that Irin Carmon, who is a little more than half the age of Caitlin Flanagan, showed more maturity of thought and much more nuanced insight than Flanagan. It seems that Flanagan is typical of the conservative or counter-progressive point of view: even when the so-called best who represent these views express themselves there is so much wanting in their understanding and analysis.

    • Bunit03057

      Meanwhile girls are growing up being used and abused. But you think that’s empowering and progressive. Fantastic.

  • Ymason6of10

    Tom As brook is one of my favorite hosts on NPR. Listen to him almost every am on commute from Stowe to Burlington. And I agree, girls are exposed to sex and adult life way too early. Speaking as one whose Masters degree concentrated on girls and women– I can say two things 1) wake up and smell the perfume and 2) childhood is so short. Let them be girls for 12 or so years. They will have 70 or 80 more to be women.

  • Jbfiftysix

    These poor girls, there’s got to something that can prevent these girls from being abuse in family , friend , strangers. These girls got tp learn there respect for themselves, I hate the life they chosed or forced or lived in that ways all their lives. This is so fusterating. GOD help those we needs him.

  • BettyBoop200

    Flanigan’s lies and exaggerations make her sound like a nut job. It’s a world where girls are either in their bedrooms, writing in their diaries about prince charming or they are out giving anonymous blow jobs with their mother’s full consent. Where does she get this cr*p? I guess from her imagination. 

    • Sugar Free 321

      its not crap. im 23 and it was like that when i was 13-17. you must not be up to date on things nowadays. its your denial that contributes to things like this

  • a mom

    I’m raising a 13 year old daughter, I find lazy parenting to be a large contributing force to what girls are facing now. I see parents who use the guise of not wanting to be overly protective to justify allowing hours of texting, chatting online, using facebook instead of being involved in their child’s life (male or female). Our daughter is not on facebook, has limited cell phone usage, uses the internet periodically, because she is  pursing outdoor activities and hobbies that engage her creativity and imagination. It consumes a large part of my time to support this exploration, takes a lot of energy and I’m sad to see the girls who don’t have that support from their parents. It narrows their chances to pursue all that is available to them to form their vision of a bright, successful, strong future.

    • http://www.facebook.com/wendyartman55 Wendy Farquhar Artman

      I raised a son and a daughter. Now 39 and 35. Everyone makes mistakes and I made mine. HOWEVER, have always believed, and still believe…. you raise your children until they are 10. Then they are out in the world and you have limited influence. Do your absolute best work for those 10 years! Give them solid bricks as a foundation. With any luck, the foundation you build will be something they will feel secure enough to stand on and feel supported. But always be there when (not IF, when) they find a more experienced voice needs to be heard. That is the ONLY time you will not be singing to the stars.

      • Squarebird

        Excellent.  Actually after 10 it is probably an advantage that they be exposed to MORE than their peers.  It is always good to be the most knowledgeable kitten in the room.

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  • Samsara
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  • Causal

    I listened with some disappointment to the conversation between Caitlyn Flanagan and Iron Carmon on this program.  While I don’t necessarily agree with all of Ms. Flanagan’s arguments, I felt that Ms. Carmon ignored them entirely, preferring instead to erect a straw man version of Flanagan’s argument that not only neglected to answer some of issues raised in Flanagan’s book, but was actually in more in agreement than disagreement, as far as I can tell.  I far preferred Tom’s conversation with Ms. Flanagan, which, though not in total agreement, at least did not actively misrepresent Ms. Flanagan.

  • Pingback: The Battle For Planet Flanagan | SPH - Small penis humiliation

  • Sam

    thanks for all the comments and the link to Irin’s response. I am certainly not listening to this show and getting agitated by what Flanagan has to say.

    There are some people who see things only 1 way – their way is the only right way. And Flanagan seems to be one of those people and I learned that there is nothing, absolutely nothing that you can say that will make them question what they are saying and thinking.

    I don’t need any more of those kinds of people in my life, that’s for sure.

    I am just sad that the hour was wasted on this irrelevant author, when the topic of (girls’ and boys’) adolescence is SO important.

    But it’s just one woman with one perspective. She is entitled to her opinion, just like Sarah Palin and Bachmann and all the other nutsoes out there.

    Good luck to every parent out there, to raise your child/ren with self-respect, honesty, tolerance and critical thinking abilities.

    • Squarebird

      “nutsoes”?  Open-minded, are we?

  • CCP

    I can’t understand why there is so much disagreement about what Flanagan is saying, she sounds completely reasonable to me.  As a mother of 2 teen boys and 1 young girl, I think that it is absolutely valid to limit their internet access because though today’s teens SEEM mature, they are certainly not fully formed and making good decisions all the time…they need guidance and yes limits placed.  Why is that so incendiary? Sounds like common sense to me and I wonder if they are not relieved by it actually on some level.  As for the interchange between Flanagan and Carmon that became somewhat personal…here is a generational difference…Carmon was brought up in the very beginning of this curve of 24/7 access before the effects were really known and are still unfolding now..for the current generation, how do we know what this means about intimacy issues down the road?  That’s what I worry about.

  • http://twitter.com/blkcatwhtcat Rachel B. Custer

    I wonder what Flanagan has to say about these facts. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/02/02/the-kids-are-more-than-all-right/

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