There is an old saying: the more things change, the more things stay the same.
On the surface, teenage girls seem like a very cohesive and predictable sub group within our society. Slightly innocent, obsessed with boys, clothes and everything that is proclaimed to be the latest and greatest, they seem so easy to label.
Shayla Thiel Stern’s new book, From The Dance Hall To Facebook: Teen Girls, Mass Media and Moral Panic in the United States 1905-2010 examines the lives of teenage girls over the last 100 years and the picture of teenage girls that the media has painted over the years. She starts with the supposed dangers and unseemliness of young women who spent their free time in the dance halls in the years leading up to WWI. The book ends with our modern era, how the dangers of technology are luring young women into dangerous territory.
She made three points that made perfect sense. The first point is that many of the concerns were only for young Caucasian women who came from middle and upper class families, not for young women of color or young Caucasian women who come from lower socioeconomic families. The second point was that being the parent of a teenage girl has not changed that much, it does not matter if you live in 1910 or 2010. The third point was that while parents, schools and the media go out of their way to put teenage girls in a tower similar to Rapunzel, they don’t do the same for teenage boys.
I liked this book. It was a bit dry at points, but overall, it was a great read. It reminded me that while women have won numerous small battles in the war for complete equality, the fight for equality is not over.
I recommend this book.