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


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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