Jessica Brinton of The Sunday Times of London tried to reach me for an interview, but then decided just to go ahead and critique the premise
-- but in a way that showed she had either failed to read, or failed to understand, the book.
Brinton argues:If Liebau questions why today’s teenagers are applying their intellectual energies to making choices about clothes, accessories, hair and sexuality, any parent of teenage girls past will tell you they always have. What’s different is that they make no apology for it.
As a preliminary matter, the book doesn't question "why today’s teenagers are applying their intellectual energies to making choices about clothes, accessories, hair and sexuality." It argues that those traditional and long-standing interests of young women have, with the incitement of a sex-saturated teen media culture, been carried to unacceptable extremes.
What's more, if Brinton had looked at the book, she'd know that I address the argument that every generation has been in a "moral panic" about its young people. As Prude
notes, the difference is how quickly the sexual landscape has changed for young women. In 1943, for example, the average age of first sex for a girl was 19 -- back when girls married earlier and lived shorter lives. By 1999, that had fallen to 15 -- a very rapid descent in historic terms. Perhaps that's explained by the fact that in 1943, only 12% of girls approved of premarital sex; by 1999, that number had skyrocketed to 1999.
Whether one agrees with the changes or not, there's no doubt that they're profound.
Finally, no one's calling for teens to be "apologetic" for their choices. What Prude
demands is a recognition that, whether the young girls themselves know it or not, the oversexed media environment is damaging to them
Adults, like Jessica Brinton, are supposed to know better. In the week when Britney Spears' 16 year old sister announced she had been impregnated by a 20 year old young man, her blase attitude rings just a bit hollow. If she'd taken the trouble to contact me, I'd have gladly told her so; if she'd bothered to read the book, she'd understand why.