Last night I took a walk with the teenage girls who own Sequoia's sister. (I think I'll start calling them Rachel and Alice.) Rachel's older and really good at everything she does, and so she continually puts down Alice's achievements. Like Alice was valedictorian last week, and I asked about her speech. Rachel yelled, "It wasn't a speech! It was two paragraphs!" Alice always remains unperturbed and I'm always left marveling at her incredible self-esteem, which seems to have a life of its own.
The conversation devolved into a discussion of the various merits, or lack thereof, of Nick Jonas vs. Joe Jonas, two movie "stars" I've never heard of. As usual, Rachel tried to patiently explain to Alice how far her judgment had erred. Alice defended her case by jumping up and down and yelling, "But Nick is so sexy!"
If you've ever tried to elicit information from kids, you'll understand why it took me 45 minutes to establish that Nick and Joe are brothers who together form a boy band (I learned later that there are actually three brothers, but the oldest, much like Merrill Osmond, isn't worth anyone's consideration). Nick (and I gathered, also Joe, although this wasn't immediately apparent) was in a Disney channel movie about, guess what, a boy band. Not their own boy band, mind you. A fictional one. (Which is why it took me a while to understand that they themselves are also a boy band,)
Alice's beloved was the main focus of our conversation. He was described alternately as having "sexy curly hair" and "the face of a dweeb" depending on which sister was talking. After about 20 minutes of this, Joe was introduced as the "cool, long-haired one" with chiseled features and a perpetual squint. Somewhere along the line I was told that I'd be more attracted to Nick, since I like geeks. The sting of the implied insult paled in comparison to the stark terror I felt envisioning myself attracted to any teenage boy whatsoever.
But my complete disinterest in underage boys was dismissed and my binding arbitration was demanded as the girls took their battle to the Internet. Before I knew it, I was staring at a screen-size photo of two overly-made-up boys who bore an eerie resemblance to both Donny Osmond and each other. It was true that Nick had curly hair. But I suspected their business manager had ordered Joe to get his chemically straightened in order to attract more segments of the teen girl demographic.
I was summarily booed down when I pronounced my verdict that the photos were of possibly the same person wearing different outfits. But when I mentioned that they both were wearing too much stage makeup, Rachel made the interesting confession that she loves eye shadow on men. (I guess that should've been obvious from her longstanding crush on Johnny Depp.)
Somewhere along the line I found out that the Jonas brothers are fundamentalist Christians who wear purity rings and sing about God, but both girls vowed not to let that interfere with their fantasy lives.
All this got me thinking. The way they took charge of their own fantasies was impressive -- add a little eye shadow here, remove a promise ring there -- these girls simply refused to accept the proffered "role model" relationship. Instead of reconsidering their beliefs to accommodate a cute boy, they reshaped the cute boy to accommodate their own idiosyncratic tastes.
Since the Jonas boys are bound to be in rehab long before Rachel and Alice finish college, it makes sense to just relegate them to the job of eye candy and leave their personalities outside the masturbation session. I'm just not sure I was as confident at their age. (Although I did manage to shove aside Donny's whole Mormon thing, so maybe I cooler than I thought. Says the woman who had a crush on Donny Osmond.)
I wanted to tell them about Mortified, a collection of teen diary excerpts I'm reading right now. There are lots of entries by girls involving imaginary sexcapades with Duran Duran or porn film scripts starring Christie Brinkley. And even real romances with real boys. I was struck by the difference between how people generally describe female sexuality and these incredibly private unbridled accounts of real sexual feelings.
But I couldn't talk about stuff like that with Rachel and Alice! Ironically, the stuff written by girls their age is way too steamy for girls their age. Random hookups, polyamory, verboten power fantasies -- it's all there, complete with designer underwear. Proving that real women -- even 12 year old girls -- are just as slutty and visually stimulated and insensitive to romance as men. Not since The Diary of Anne Frank have I read anything as unabashedly, charmingly, subversively sex-positive.
Which is why it's still underground.