Society: A Dangerous Book for Girls

Two Philadelphians have written a new guide intended to empower our daughters. But with Hillary running for president, are pressed flowers and cootie catchers what girls really need?

Harpercollins clearly expects great things of Girls. The initial print run is more than 600,000. Even before publication, the book was being translated into 10 languages. And Boys was optioned for a movie by Disney, after a bidding war the London Times termed “fierce.” While there are no movie deals finalized yet for Girls, there is a Daring Girls anthem that you can hear on the book’s website, “It’s got a great beat,” Peskowitz reports. “‘Daring girls prevail!’”

Buchanan and Peskowitz can try all they want to convince me Girls will make the world a better place for their daughters, but I don’t think they’re even convinced themselves. In the chapter on boys in Girls, the authors write that it’s “easier to think about boys and girls as being entirely different than it is to think about boys and girls as having lots of common ground.” So why perpetuate the gender-role divide? Why answer Boys’ celebration of the “attributes of manliness” with how to write a thank-you note and press a flower? Isn’t Girls, in its retro sparkliness, a Faustian betrayal of the dream of true equality? “Ghettoizing girls, reinforcing stereotypes — we talked about that every day,” Buchanan admits.

“It would be great if boys read Girls and learned about flashlight sleepouts and how to make a campfire,” Peskowitz says wistfully. Yeah, well, sparkly took care of that.

“If we’d written our book first,” Buchanan admits, “we might have just written it for kids.”