Okay, so here's something really exciting... I'm going to complain about a press release from my university.
Title: "Feminist Mentors Rely on "Moralistic" Standards Regarding Sex"
Researchers at my university recently examined the outcomes of a program in which social workers intended to act as feminist mentors to a group of middle-school girls.
(Remember that these are middle-school girls.)
The program was held in a small Midwestern city at a middle school where 60 percent of the 535 students are African-American. Its directors – two social workers, both white women – intended it as a forum where the participants – 22 sixth-grade girls – could "interrupt the processes of traditional gender socialization," according to the study.
(I'm not really sure where social work comes down on "interrupting socialization". I'll ask my wife.)
They report in the current issue of Affilia: Journal of Women and Social Work (Vol. 21, No. 1) that despite their feminist leanings, the mentors wound up falling back on "moralistic, age-based standards of appropriate sexual interest and behavior" and "the suppression of sexuality."
(So far, so good. But, what exactly constitutes the suppression of sexuality?)
They give one example, in which a participant creating a collage on "what it means to be a girl," remarked that it means not only friendship, sports, school work but also "being pregnant." One of the mentors contradicted her, saying "Women get pregnant, not girls."
(Okay, first off, it's pretty annoying that they're arguing that feminism is supposed to be immoral. But, what exactly do they expect from these social workers? For them to tell 14 year old girls that they're mentoring that it's okay to get pregnant? That this won't limit their options as women? And how exactly is this crusty moralism??? What kind of feminism is pro-teenage pregnancy?)
Bay-Cheng doesn't fault the program directors directly, saying she and Lewis believe the program reflects a larger problem about how adults tend to socialize youth on issues of gender and sexuality.
(Huh? Again, why is this such a problem? Wouldn't anyone with a lick of sense encourage these girls to stop romanticizing teenage pregnancy? Isn't it "feminist" to encourage girls to value themselves as something other than sex objects? Who exactly says that feminists are required to oppose the "traditional" teachings that are most useful for young women? WTF?)