So This Is Love?
The Author of "Girl Land" Explores Generational Shifts in Dating
I'm not so sure about that, and here is why: Girls are—and have always been—the ones who set the terms of their relationships with boys. Here's the basic truth of the matter: Adolescent boys and young men will do whatever it takes for access to female companionship and sexuality. If a girl's requirements for a boy to gain that access are that he must spend time with her, ask her on dates, study what she likes and dislikes so that he can get to know her, express his affection for her, and make a pledge to be faithful to her over the course of the relationship—if that is what is required of him, if he wants to be with her—then that is what he will do. But if her standards are different—if her standards are no standards—then those are the ones he will meet. If all it takes to get close to her is showing up at the same party and hooking up with her, then, well, his job is done.
Everything we know about young girls tells us that they value friendship, commitment, emotional connection and loyalty. Allowing the evolution of a culture—one in which their earliest physical experimentation with boys will take place without these important preconditions—has been a serious judgment lapse on the part of adults who care about girls. It robs them of a valuable and enriching experience and sets them up for the more punishing and emotionally deadening world of college hookups and beyond.
I think we would do our young girls a great service by being more involved in their interactions with boys. I would love to see more co-ed events for young people that aren't centered on academic or athletic events, but on just having fun—bowling, the movies, skating or hiking—all with appropriate adult supervision. Young teenagers are dying to get together socially, and with organized—and chaperoned—events, they can get to know each other in a fun, appropriate context.
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