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July 08, 2004

The New Young Gals

Dear Vanessa --

One of the neat things about leaving the country for a stretch is the experience of re-entry, don't you find? For a few days, things back home stand out in relief more than they usually do.

Fresh back from the Franco-Carib, I find myself (as ever, admittedly) trying to figure out What's Becoming of These Young Gals These Days. It seems to me that a new stage may have been reached. BoomerGals: gettin' angry, bein' political, and resentfully claimin' their space. X'erGals: actin' out, showin' the aggression, and defiantly grabbin' for the gusto. But these new youngerGals ...

They seem breezily free of all the old complexes, don't they? I detect no political anger, and no generational spite. (Actually, they seem less to have been set free to be who they are than to have been actively goosed into ceaselessly expressing nonexistent selves. But leaving my crankiness aside ...) They seem to have grown up with no questions about what life would be like: a big shopping mall brimful of possibilities for self-pleasure. I'm not alone in being amazed by how uninhibited they are. Little that was once taboo seems to carry any charge for them at all. Anal? Oral? S&M? So what's the big deal?

Yet, as untroubled and uninhibited as they are, they're also the most square group of young women I've ever run across. When they get together, their talk seems to consist of nothing but the drivel-iest feminine drivel: boys, hairstyles, baby showers. Having been (at great expense) set free to be who they want to be, they turn out to want to be ... banal traditional girls. They've got nothing on their minds -- anal sex aside, I suppose -- that wouldn't have been commonplace to their great-grandmothers. They're half Jenna Jameson, half Doris Day. Which isn't a bad description of Britney Spears, come to think of it.

britney or jenna.jpg Jenna or Britney? Porn star or pop star?

I'll refrain from making the snarky comment I'm dying to make. On second thought, no I won't. Ain't it always the way, chuckle snort. You dream about the glorious things that'll result from liberation, then inevitably feel let down when the smoke and debris clear. Gollygosh: people are going back to being people again! Where's the outrage?

But perhaps, as The Wife often reminds me, I'm overgeneralizing from my absurdly narrow media/culture circles.

Curious to hear your observations about the new 22-25 year olds. Come to think of it, you're in an interesting position to do some amateur sociology. Although a youngster still yourself, you've gotten to the point where a yet younger cohort has come along behind you. An unnerving sensation, no? Are you feeling older and wiser these days? ("They'll learn," muttered grimly -- that kind of thing.) Also, having recently moved from NYC to Chicago you're no doubt registering differences between the Manhattan youngsters and the Chicago set.

Eager to read your observations about the New Young Gals, in any case. What kind of sense do you make of them? And do the new young guys seem as boring -- as shapeless and larval -- to you as they do to me?



posted by Michael at July 8, 2004


Warning, stupid half-formed opinions ahead.

Alot of the nervousness and frantic behavior I see from Hip, Young Big City Gals is this constant push to be interesting and unusual and Not At All Like People Back Home. Which is fine, of course, but the conflict starts when they wont admit they want normal things, a house, a kid, a dotting hubby. It would be beyond hearsey to admit your desires are of a mainstream stripe...espically if you put so much engery into being different.

The Courage to follow your dreams should also mean the courage to admit your dreams are provincal.

Posted by: jleavitt on July 8, 2004 1:08 PM

Well let's face it, what do they have to get passionate about? Great Grandma got 'em the vote, Grandma got 'em the free sex and no-bra to bra only dress code, Ma got 'em the career...what's left? Husbands? Babies? Good grief, even Marriage?

Posted by: susan on July 8, 2004 3:39 PM

Is a dotting hubby like a dotty hubby?

Posted by: Deb on July 8, 2004 4:09 PM

Read D. H. Lawrence's poem FIGS.

Women want to brazen out their sex -- and so they lose it.

He said it and I agree.

Posted by: ricpic on July 8, 2004 4:19 PM

Jleavitt -- Yeah, letting yourself embrace or at least flow with the square parts of yourself is sometimes hard. I wonder if many of these young gals resent being pushed so hard to go out in the world and achieve?

Susan -- Nothing to conquer and everything to enjoy, I guess. I wonder how they'll survive the pressure?

Deb -- All that and more, I'm sure.

Ricpic -- That's a great poem, thanks, and that's brave of you to make a case for such a thing these days. I'm a huge (if quirky) Lawrence fan myself, and it's too rare to run across someone making a straightfaced case for him, isn't it? Too bad -- for all the guff, he often talks about things that are real and that matter. I wonder why. It's as though people have grown embarassed ...

Here's the poem.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 8, 2004 7:07 PM

One time, I was quietly pondering the summum bonum, and this typically pathetic pussy whipped middle aged male (resentful over the waste of his youth) said to me that I should be more "vigourous". So, I vigourously beat the piss out of him. Apparently that's not what he had in mind.

Posted by: Fireplug on July 8, 2004 10:35 PM

I was just on an architectural jury for University of Miami graduate students. What you said rings true, except for some obvious differences: these women expected to study what they want and to have interesting jobs afterwards. 50 years ago, that was limited to a very small percentage of the women in America.

Posted by: john massengale on July 9, 2004 8:20 AM

"...these women expected to study what they want and to have interesting jobs afterwards."

While apparently voting, wearing no bra, and being banal. To just EXPECT an interesting job afterwar? Everybody raise your hand who found that to be a trivial pursuit.

Posted by: annette on July 9, 2004 9:12 AM

I've ended up catching bits and pieces of the Disney channel for a number of years now (my 13-year-old is moving out of that demographic but my 3-year-old is moving into it, so I guess I'll be watching it for a while.) If you look at the girl heroines of many Disney shows, they are rather similar to the "new girl" you're describing: cute, resourceful, assumed able to do anything without regard for gender, but with a hyper-traditional focus on the all-important 'bagging their guy.'

Now, I grant you, Disney may have their own spin on things, but it would be interesting to survey T.V.-wide treatment of sex roles, compare it with reasonably objective data on young women, and see if T.V. is a leading or trailing indicator, or if it correlates with reality at all.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on July 11, 2004 6:59 PM

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