Monday, April 20, 2009

Title Twenty Nine: Fast Girls: Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut by Emily White

I was a women's studies minor in college. I know, right? How much more useless could my university experience be? Major in English lit, minor in gender studies, and find myself several years later suited for not much more than reading, writing book reviews, and loudly proclaiming that if anyone ever marries me, I won't change my last name. Hey, it's a cool last name.

Anyway, that little part of me was attracted to Fast Girls, a decent enough examination of the concept of the slut among teenagers. I admit to feeling somewhat out of my depth, because I went to a private all-girls' high school so I don't think we had a slut. Any girl that was whoring it up certainly wasn't doing it in the hallways, and if someone was doing it on the weekends it obviously didn't make enough of an impression on me that I remember it thirteen years later. White's own memory of her school tramp, a girl they all called "Anna Wanna," inspired her to research the notion of certain girls being singled out and tormented, whether their behavior warranted it or not.

White interviewed dozens of women and incorporated their experiences into what is really a very long senior thesis. The writing isn't particularly great, and the book gets a little tedious and repetitious while depending on references to feminist writings - including those of Simone de Beauvoir, Adrienne Rich, and Betty Friedan. In trying to find the answer to the question, "Why did that girl get singled out?" White never really came up with a decent answer, and instead just kept telling the same tale of the girl who was known for giving a train job to the lacrosse team or trading oral for cigarettes. The women who she interviewed were more interesting, and ranged from happy and successful in the post-high school world to depressed drug addicts who never really escaped it. White also probed the idea that the slut as outcast is a role found more often in white suburbia than multiracial urban settings, but didn't spend enough time on it to make it worthwhile. In the end it's just acceptance that some girls will always be set apart due to rumor, gossip and innuendo without really offering a way to change it.

1 comment:

Julie said...

We didn't have a slut either, I don't think...huh.

I need to start a-writin again, I am so behind on the book reviews.