I've been out of the reading loop for a while as social requirements and the presence of a male friend have kept me busy, so it's rather appropriate that this is my first toe-dip back into the world of bookish things. Flanagan presents here something of a survey of the ways in which the transition from girlhood to womanhood have changed over the course of the last century.
This should be interesting and, for the most part, I agree with her overall thesis that the transition if particularly difficult for females but I found her arguments to be weak and full of all sorts of fallacies. She tends to generalize, saying things like "Every woman I know feels" or "All girls wanted." There were many of these broad strokes that certainly didn't apply to me, and I wasn't sure if that should make me feel alienated or reassured. I was also bothered by her lack of concrete data: she'd refer to the way things were in the past without providing a specific date or timeframe. She also simply failed to provide any kind of numbers to back up her statements, instead relying on quotations pulled from historical publications (I use the word historical
loosely, as we're talking about dating guides given to teen girls in the 20s, 50s, and 60s). There's no evidence to suggest just how representative these publications were of the overall culture. I'm not sure how much of this data is actually available, but Flanagan's arguments certainly need it. Similarly, she's also reticent to provide citations for many of her claims. Sure, she quotes examples of dating guides and there's a list of sources, but she's not saying where her specific statements of fact come from.