There are some "news" topics that are pretty rote every year and, despite seeming more fit to Cosmo, always get some hefty coverage in our finest newspapers, including: how to avoid those holiday pounds, the perfect Valentine's Day gifts, how the dye the Chicago River green, and, how much college students drink over spring break, particularly south of the border.
With the onset of the Spring Break "coverage," of course, there's also a lot of lamenting by middle-aged women about the slut factor, and how deplorable it is that despite all of the strides made by the feminism movement, so many young women "seem so happy to let men lick tequila shots off their body parts." (Meghan Daum, LA Times, 031508)
This never ceases to amaze me. It's like these women were never young once and never experienced the rites of passage that girls today have to go through in order to join the sisterhood, things ranging from: wardrobe tricks like boosting your "confidence" with a push-up bra or breaking an ankle in hooker heels to mental games discovering that the more you drink, the more fun you have AND the less guilty you feel in the morning. And yes, every woman has sat done and made the calculations of what adult beverage will get her the drunkest the fastest with the fewest calories. Don't lie, Meghan Daum. Everyone has made this calculation, or at least read the breakdown in Mademoiselle. You think all women just coincidentally share the same taste for white wine and vodka-seltzers? I think not.
Part of being a young woman is doing all these things. No, graduate school and career ambitions don't factor into these conversations because they're not particularly unique to being a woman. Being a woman is biological and cultural; it involves trying to understand how you want to express your cup size and who you will invite to your poochie party. These are things that take some figuring out. Of course you have to slut it a little to figure out these things for yourself. A lot of us women probably run the full gamut to 'ho and back and settle somewhere comfortably in our own definitions of what it means to be a woman. But until then, we've got hoochie culture, and so that's what we try on first. Go figure.
But I fucken detest any older woman who's going to look down on girls today for the way they think and the way they act on spring break. When Daum decries that women are "deciding that the way to measure their readiness for the adult world is not in terms of education or emotional maturity but sexual desirability," she's totally missing the point that the way you get to be emotionally mature is by figuring this shit out. Why don't you tail these party girls and see where they are in 10 years? I'll bet most of them will have caved into conservative family values by then, only after submitting to 10 years of intense therapy to disentangle their alienating feelings of guilt that seem to have been forced on them by a mass media so deeply embedded in their consciousness that they think it's their own conscience they need to battle, and not the affirmative culture that promises a healthy pinch of moral backlash for every pound of empty glitz produced.
The most telling line of this op-ed is Daum's observation that "When they talked about what they wanted to do with their lives, they spoke not of jobs or grad school but of looking good, of having the right equipment and experience to ensure a place in the raunch-obsessed pop culture they'd come to see as the real world."
I got news for you, M.D. If pop culture is manifesting itself in people's minds and actions, that's no longer pop culture--that is the real world. Is it that you're bemoaning pop culture's effects on women today? It's not that culture that we should be worried about, or whatever loss values you may be mourning, but the conflict between the two that this kind of anti-anything editorial highlights. The reason why young women have to drink so much to do what the pop culture dictates is that there are so many old-world values holding them back. But women say they drink for "confidence" rather than "numbing the confusion" because booze advertising is traditionally targeted at men.
Articles like this just make women drink even more.