Monday, July 22, 2013

I Enjoyed Being a Girl -4

Far From the Hovering Crowd
Interpersonal Relationships

Girls had many girlfriends, way back then.  There were friends from school, friends from club groups, friends from summer camp, part-time jobs and for some, friends from religious school.  Some intersected, others had to be kept in a delicate arm’s length balance from each other.  With half the population preserved for marriage but ineligible for friendship, girls had only each other to cling to for companionship.  Relationships with boys were described in hunting metaphors....there was 'the chase', you 'captured someone's attention', 'laid a trap', arrows were 'shot through the heart' threw out a line and 'reeled him in'...(sorry, that's more of a fishing analogy, but you get the idea).  

"A man chases a girl, until she catches him!" was a lyric to a popular song.  

When I was teaching English, the standard plot descriptions for literature, routinely dished out to the students, were...."Man vs. Man"...Man vs. Nature" ...and the ever-popular..."Man vs. Himself".  Had anyone ever considered "Man vs. Woman" things could have been a lot more interesting!  

But, except for Jane Austen, there weren't many plots about girls.

Besides peer relationships, there were the relatives.  With some exceptions (there are always exceptions) many of us were blessed with huge extended families: aunties and uncles, cousins and, of course, doting grandparents, all focused on each other, celebrating triumphs and, even better, breakdowns, on the path that was their little lives.  

We felt part of a hovering crowd. There was a lot riding on us.  In the days before iPads and Reality TV, our triumphs and failtures were often the main source of entertainment for these people.

Now, not so much. Many families disintegrated in the wave of no-fault divorces that washed over us after the 'me generation' 70's, with parents turning their attentions to their own 'needs', leaving their kids to fend for themselves, emotionally.  Other families became more widely scattered, too busy to involve themselves with relatives, except at public celebrations, like weddings and funerals.  They even openly admitted that they didn’t always like, let alone love, each other, no matter what.  Way back when I was a girl (should I be stroking my beard at this point?) the only way to express intolerance of one’s kin was strictly behind their backs, in a whisper. …to another member of the clan, who might concur, but only in private.  

Now, people 'unfriend' their parents, siblings and children with the stroke of a key.  
There are way too many opportunities for 'anti-social networking' these days.  

From what I see around me, both in what is commonly referred to as ‘real life’ but even more regularly referred to on TV as ‘reality’, many young women no longer take as much comfort in such supportive arms.  Except for the Kardashians, Nia Vardalos and assorted Gypsies on what is ludicrously called 'The Learning Network', few girls have strong familial networks to ‘snoopervise’ their activities. They must turn to friends, who become few and farther between, not to mention way too busy at work or self-involved to be of much help.  If and when friends do marry and proceed to breed, their over-involvement with their ‘young’ leaves them little time and no energy to maintain meaningful ties with old girlfriends.  

T'wasn’t ever thus!  T'was it?

So, our culture now provides media anti-heroines, like Hannah Horvath, ultimately friendless and disconnected from family, cast adrift on make-believe limited resources, struggling to find self-sufficiency and true love, without any ethics….work or otherwise, squandering her talents on casual hook-ups and navel-gazing meanderings. 

And they call this show a comedy, by the way.  

Is this the dream-come-true we envisioned for girls, those many decades ago?

1 comment:

  1. It certainly isn't a 'dream come true'-- I'm living it. I often wonder how it is that women have no loyalty to each other any longer...