Friday, June 25, 2010

Girls and boys

A conversation overheard at the video store
I was standing there looking for a movie and two women, college girls, pop in. One is running down a third woman who is not present. This not-present woman has recently broken up with her boyfriend and approached the woman now running her down for sympathy. She apparently got none.

Why not? Here is what the woman in the store said, "She was mad because he'd hooked up with two or three girls but I'm like, you didn't talk to him about this before."

What to make of this? Well, less than might appear on first glance. When girls and young women decide to trot out some bit of behaviour by another girl not present they are almost always lying. It's exactly the same as when boys start talking about their sexual experience. And these lies serve similar purposes, they are told by people who want to know what normal is. They tell these stories and see how others respond.

Boys live their sexual experience in their heads, having thoughts and fantasies they dare not express while dealing with girls who are emotionally and physically more advanced than them. They tell lies about what they have done to try and tease out what others think. Most boys don't tell tall tales but rather, as Hooper said, want others to think not that they have seen a lot of action but that they have had enough to say they've been in it.

Girls sexual selves, on the other hand, are very public and very much affected by peer pressure from other girls. They need a way to get issues that concern them into conversation while attributing these things to other girls. Thus the incredible convenience of the girl who isn't there—and, besides, we're not talking to her right now—whom these things can be credited to.*

In any case, to get back to the question at hand, if the girl so coldly describing her "friend" above had had the same thing happen to her you can bet she'd be badly hurt by the experience. You'd probably want to worry about what she might do if she was left alone with your guy though.

But it is still significant that, even for the purposes of lying, young women are now taking it as a given that fidelity is not automatically expected in relationships. There is no way that can be spun as a good thing.

*How useful this sort of gambit is if everyone lies is an open question.

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