If you haven’t read Caitlin Flanagan’s new book Girl Land yet, don’t. It’s awful. (Do stay tuned for our Bitch Radio review of the book this Friday though.) As specious and outlandishly essentialist as you’ve come to expect from all of Flanagan’s work, the only fun I had reading this book was making notes in the margin for the next Bitch staffer to find. Until now that is.
I have combined choice Girl Land quotes with cat photos here to both illustrate the ridiculousness that is this book and to keep you from having to read it yourself. Plus, everything—even rage-inducing Flanaganisms—is easier to handle when accompanied by a cat photo.
Girl Land traffics heavily in a false “girls vs. boys” dichotomy. Girls live interior lives, but boys do not:
Girls need to keep diaries to protect and make sense of their (heretosexual) budding, fragile desires, but boys do not:
On a similar tip, Girl Land romanticizes the shit out of the mythical father figure. In dating life:
And also when it comes to punks (“punks” by Flanagan’s definition are, I think, boys who are rude to girls):
There is a strange section in the middle of the book where Flanagan uses Patty Hearst as an example of, well, I don’t know what but it had something to do with sex and how Patty Hearst used to be a good girl and then she wasn’t—I think because she left Girl Land?
Preserving an idealized, fictional version of female adolescence appears to be the main point of this book (that’s what “Girl Land” is). One threat to this pretty pink girlhood is THE PROM:
Another threat to it is THE INTERNET:
Yet another threat to this chaste, dreamy girl-ness is FEMINISM, which leads to SEX:
Biology in general is kind of a problem for the Flanster, in no small part because it forces one to leave “Girl Land” and enter “Woman Ville” or wherever it is you go once you get your period. On that note, PERIODS:
Girl Land paints a regressive, unrealistic picture of just about everything that’s happened in our culture since the 1950s (when girls were chaster and therefore much purer and happier). The experiences of girls themselves get the shortest shrift here, because by romanticizing a false reality for girls La Flanagan only makes real adolescence look like a cross between a gunfight and a porn video (no wonder Flanagan’s “Girl Land” insists girls stay in their rooms and stare at the walls for prolonged periods). At any rate, “Girl Land” is a romantic place that we should all hope to never have to visit. I imagine it looking something like this: