Friday, October 9, 2009

Slut Lists and Suburbia

The Victorians started it. It was they who first floated the ideal of the “innocent” child as an icon of angelic virtue. Prior to that, children were seen as little adults who were sent into the mines or the mills as soon as their tiny hands were big enough to hold a lump of coal or change a spindle.

Given the conditions of the industrial revolution in the late nineteenth century, such an ideal was necessary and beneficial in that it led to the passage of child labor legislation.

However, it seems to have run amok in Millburn, NJ, where the average home price is $1.2 million.

The economy is tanking, we are mired in two unnecessary wars, health care reform is turning into a nightmare and a new dollop of trivia surfaced in Millburn where it was suddenly revealed, for several decades senior high school girls have been creating a “slut lists” of incoming freshmen girls in which fictional sexual characteristics are inserted between the girls’ first and last name.

The New York Time broke the story last month in a scathing expose.

Parental reaction was swift. One parent warned that “the future cost of all this was ‘children who will become disfuctional [sic], psychotic, damaged graduates that society will have to bear the burden of dealing with in the future.’”

Another “Mom of Girls” painted a more frightening scenario than “disfunction” when she said, “This would stop immediately if the senior girls knew it would go on their transcripts/guidance recommendation letters.” (That’s the great fear in suburbia: difficulty getting admitted to college so a child can pile up debt to train for a job that is no longer there.)

The only problem is that the kids love it and have refused to rat out those who have been involved. The only trauma associated with the list is that a girl might be excluded.

I suspect that reaction would have been more muted had the senior girls drawn up a “Rich Bitch” list in which a parents net worth is listed next to a freshman girl’s name. The problem is not the list, per se; it is s-e-x. It’s alright to teach our kids greed and venality, but we expect them to be chaste as they learn to exploit the less fortunate of the world.

Sex, as one parent pointed out above, leads to “disfunction.” It looks bad on a high school transcript and leaves an individual scarred for life. Mind you, that’s just talking about it; not doing it. It’s also a little sexist. Had senior boys drawn up a “stud list,” it would have gone unnoticed.

The children of the middle class are raised in a sterile void. This is not to suggest that we should send them into the mines and the mills to earn their keep. But the trouble with a void is that the most insignificant incident results in overreaction. A dust mote on a dung heap attracts no attention; a dust mote on the highly polished surface of a telescope’s lens screams.

But, I can understand how the town feels. Millburn is home to several Goldman Sachs executives, so it is a town that puts a premium on virtue.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

crazy idea i know but how do u think credit cruch affected porn?


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