Monday, March 13, 2006

girls, grrrls.

Here's Naomi Wolf writing about Young Adult fiction for girls in the Sunday Book Review:

But teenagers, or their parents, do buy the bad-girls books — the "Clique," "Gossip Girl" and "A-List" series have all sold more than a million copies. And while the tacky sex scenes in them are annoying, they aren't really the problem. The problem is a value system in which meanness rules, parents check out, conformity is everything and stressed-out adult values are presumed to be meaningful to teenagers.

It's not such a new thing to be disappointed by Naomi Wolf, but this article doesn't say a whole lot. Yes, these stupid books are bad for girls - I don't even think there's much redeeming value to kids reading about the junior high A-list instead of watching it on TV. Yes, they reproduce double standards about sex that girls have to deal with off the page, too (and not helpfully). They make girls grow up "too fast," and they're obsessed with shopping. It's true that these books are far from Little Women. And?

I'm really glad this shit wasn't around when I was a kid (there were the craptastic Babysitter's Club books, and the Sleepover Friends series, but at least the girls in those books weren't constantly trying to undermine each other). I was obsessed with Norma Klein, who I was just telling Emily about. She wrote a ton of stuff that was totally genius and full of unrepentant sex. At least that's how I remember them (the genius part, I mean. There's no question that they were smutty). And they were meant for teenagers. Which meant a lot of us read them when we were 13. I remember hoping my mom wouldn't look at them too closely in the giant pile of stuff I was checking out from the library.

Speaking of books that don't suck, here's my review in this month's Bookslut of Michelle Tea's new book Rose of No Man's Land, which may or may not be a YA book, but is fucking great either way. Michelle will be reading at Bluestockings on April 13th (with Katia Noyes, who's book Crashing America also looks awesome), and also at the Happy Ending Reading Series on the 12th (with Heather McGowan and Yannick Murphy). You should come.

Also: next Thursday 3/23, Jennifer Baumgardner and Gillian Aldrich are screening their documentary Speak Out: I Had An Abortion at Bluestockings. This is connected to Jennifer's "I Had An Abortion" t-shirt project (which she wrote more about here), and should be cool. My fellow volunteer Dee will also be showing her film Pink Minute, an experimental narrative about a woman having an abortion. She rocks.

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