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Flanagan’s Bully Pulpit


Caitlin Flanagan, she of the career-woman hating hypocrisy, continues to get bigger stages from which to spew her candy-coated reactionary guck (she used to be one of the only female staff writers at the New Yorker). Today’s venue: the New York Times, which is really on a roll recently with its columnists.

In today’s column, Flanagan takes on the movie Juno, and the idea that a teenage girl can have sex and not end up poor, alone, and uneducated. I was not going to get into the politics of Juno, but she’s given me no choice.

I’ve got to agree with Amanda that in dismissing Juno’s agency, Flanagan equates an opinionated and strong young woman with a fairy tale. Certainly not all teenage pregnancy doesn’t turn out as well as does Juno’s (perhaps most doesn’t). But Juno is not about the difficulty of teenage pregnancy. It’s about a young woman finding her voice, and about her embracing of the non-traditional. And that that can be ok too.

Flanagan also can’t let an opportunity to bash girls’ sexuality pass her by. She seizes upon this column as a chance to say that maybe we are mistaken to push for girls’ equality if it requires us to also accept their sexuality. I think that’s totally wrong. We can – and should – be open to the fact that women young and old have sexuality, and that they should be able to exercise that sexuality free from punishment. Instead of tackling how this might be possible (say, by education girls to use birth control via comprehensive sex ed programs), Flanagan just throws up her hands and says that it’s not and that we better just protect our fragile girls. As they did in the Victorian era. Because that was such a good time for women.

Ultimately, Flanagan returns to her favorite line: biology is destiny. I can’t imagine a more retrograde way to approach female sexuality. Resort to this seems, to me, to ensure that any real discussions of equality are superficial at best and, more likely, totally full of hot air.

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