Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The "Boyfriend Story" Never Went Away

Caitlin Flanagan argues in the Atlantic that girls are resisting the ubiquitous hook-up culture with a revival of what she calls "the Boyfriend Story," an over-romanticized view of how men can really relate to women. I am sure that teenage girls are prone to over-romanticize many things. But their desire for boyfriends who turn into husbands has never gone away. Nor are they wrong or unrealistic.

Hook-ups are real, but they are a minority practice, and most are not quite as decadent as many fear. Moreover, even the minority of girls who do hook up get over that phase pretty quickly. They find that it works as a way to get boys to pay attention to them and to feel attractive. But then they find out that ancient wisdom that boys have two different lists, and two different kinds of attention, when it comes to girls. Girls, on the other hand, pretty much only have the "boyfriend" list. Hooking up will get a girl on a boy's list (and probably all of his friends' lists, too), but not on the "girlfriend" list.

The marriage story is still the main story that most people want and get. The boyfriend story, like the girlfriend story, is how teenagers practice for the real thing.

No comments: