You don't have to dig particularly far to expose "Prudie's" slut shaming, heteronormative, woman-hating advice for what it is, but I still read her column most Thursdays for the surprise grand slams. Every once in a while, "Prudie" just drops some bullshit into my lap. It hardly even needs analyzing, it's so preposterous as-is. In today's column, I got lucky.
This exchange left me totally baffled. So first, there's the classic "boys will be boys" excuse for this, admittedly, unhygenic and bizarre behavior. Yes, I'm aware that sometimes adjustment is necessary, but I can't help but think about what would happen if a young woman's hands wandered down her pants or into her bra in public--people wouldn't assume it was for a confidence boost. And since when is one teenager's bizarre interpretation of this phenomena a universal truth? Why would making sure your penis is still intact equate to self-assurance? It's probably partially pleasure-seeking behavior, which is typically acceptable for men and not women. Babies play with their genitals, and young men get a free pass for being immature and inappropriate, while young women do not. Sounds like some sexual privilege to me.
Oh, but then there's the notion that girls also have a universal nervous tick: hair-flipping. I love the very clear distinction between boys' behavior and girls' here, and that the boys' is tied to their physical sex while girls' is tied to the socially constructed gender, and specifically the beauty standard of long, white hair (the better to flip with, my dear!). And the fact is, that's not really comparing apples to apples. That's comparing head-hair to genitals. A real equivalency would be exploring the idea of a social reaction to girls grabbing crotch constantly. But we wouldn't want to make "Prudie" think too hard on sex, would we? Let's just ask the nearest teenager what he or she thinks.
Fellow blogger Liz also points out that the hair-flipping is not only a beauty standard and gender-identity assumption for all females, it's also not a biological response like genital-grabbing. At least we can say that the boys' behavior is well-documented in babies, and thus not necessarily taught and learned, whereas hair-flipping is absolutely a learned behavior associated with flirting. It's another way young girls are supposed to be fun and sexy, but not sexual.
And I always love the "girls have it so much better than boys!"canards that pop up in media. In this case, assuming that all girls flip their hair to ease stress, that's a much more acceptable way of boosting confidence than grabbing one's genitals. Teenage girls are so lucky to have this universally feminine pep-talk-in-a-can. Forget the fact that teen girls' self-confidence takes a much more thorough lashing than boys' at that age, through media and social expectations.