Thursday, September 16, 2004

was it just me?

Yesterday, Will heard an interview with Judy Blume on NPR. Now, I have to admit, the woman wears moxy like a hand made suit. I mean, how many people could pen kids' books, one of them a series with a kid named Fudge, publish Wifey, and get away with it?

When I was about 12 years old, I read Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret? My sole excursion in the Judy Blume jungle. What follows here is not so much a critique on the book or the author, but more telling of who I was in that really hyper-vunerable, walking on marbles stage of female living. And did anyone else feel like they'd sniffed a magic marker potent enough to last from 6th grade through 8th? I swear the memory of that time period feels skinny and hyper and full of altitude.

I was explaining the book to Tyler last night. "So there's this scene where Margaret and her friends are sittin' around doing bust exercises."

I showed her the "We Must We Must We Must Increase Our Bust" maneuver.

She looked horrified.

I pointed at her. "So tell me, do you know one girl that would have done that?"

"No way!"

"Me either. It was so weird. And I totally couldn't relate when I read that. I would have rather been thrown into a hole with scorpions than have sat around a room and done THAT!"

Yeah, yeah, I know I employed a smidge of hyperbole.

"And . . . when Margaret gets her period it's like a religious experience. She's so happy!!"

Now, I don't come to this area without a few medals of honor. I was THE LAST GIRL in my class to get IT. Okay? I was embarrassed and hardly let anybody look into my purse because no feminine hygiene products ever lurked behind the zipper. In fact, even when I did finally get it, Lori Gorham, three months after the fact (a fact I didn't advertise) approached me in the girls' bathroom.

"I think I'm about to get IT. You don't have anything on you, do you?"

"Well yes!" I whipped out a pad. "I do!"

"Really?!" Shock, surprise, and a little smarm. But probably not smarm. I might have been a little over-sensitive.

"Of course!" Shock, disdain and an unspoken, "I've had it for months you twit!"

I handed her the pad.

So when I say that even I was not thrown into ecstacy at the sight of blood in my underwear that October day in 1978 it makes me wonder about Margaret. And boy was she in for a quick turnaround on the opinion of how great it is to have a period. At best I can say, "I felt glad I wasn't a freak anymore."

Nowadays I'm hoping for an early menopause!

So, did you related to Margaret more than I did?

And apologies to the guys. And Judy Blume. It wasn't your fault I didn't like the book. It was mine.

grace,

lisa

8 Comments:

Blogger Michele Hastings said...

I remember reading "Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret" when I was 11 or so. That book made a HUGE impact on me...as did S.E. Hinton's books "The Outsiders" and "That was Then, This is Now". My friends and I DID do those bust exercises and we DID make a big deal about the first period thing. Our little group had all read that particular Judy Blume book so it became sorta like a little "club". In thinking about those very important pre-teen days though, I realize how much the books I read (I also read "Our Bodies, Ourselves") formed my mindset about sex. It was NOT a Christian mindset. (But I wasn't a Christian and my mom didn't have "the talk" with me until it was too late and I was already sexually active.) Our first conversation about sex was when I told her I wanted to go on the pill because I was already having sex and I didn't want to get pregnant. She was SO disappointed...assuming I wouldn't have sex until I was married...because that's what SHE did. So I have a very bad taste in my mouth about Judy Blume. I think she's leading young girls astray. I was THRILLED to discover a CHRISTIAN "coming to age" series by Melody Carlson called "Diary of a Teenage Girl". That series I HIGHLY recommend! I also tried revisiting Judy Blume as an adult a couple years ago when I saw a book of hers called "Summer Sisters". I didn't get very far though because so much of it was about these two ladies who had been best friends as youth and they spent much of their time masturbating eachother. I guess that must have been for the benefit of her fan base who started with "Are You There God, it's Me Margaret". What a witch. Sorry.

September 16, 2004 at 9:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You're so right, Michelle. Most mainstream/secular books by authors like Judy Blume are sending the wrong message to many girls that it is okay to live in the moment and gratify yourself with sex, drugs, alcohol, criminal activities, etc. Whatever happened to living a life pleasing to God? Another series that touches on staying pure while exploring issues that teenagers go through is The Christy Miller Series by Robin Jones Gunn. I grew up reading those books, and I try to encourage all of the teenage girls I work with to read those books, in hopes that the series will inspire and uplift them in their walks with God, like it did for me. :-) B

September 16, 2004 at 11:16 AM  
Blogger lisa said...

Are you kidding, Michele? You don't have to be sorry at all. I'm big time into writers being responsible for the outcome of their work. It's like sports figures and celebrities who say they're not role models because they don't want to be. Well bullcrap. They're role models whether they want to be or not. Being highly responsible for their actions is probably the highest price of fame. Thanks for your candor.

And my daughter loves Robin Gunn. She's a great lady.

September 16, 2004 at 1:21 PM  
Blogger Becca said...

I hardly remember Judy Blume's books now. I know I read "Margaret" and the "Fudge" ones. Was there also "Tiger Eyes" or was that another author? I devoured books in my younger years. Well, I still do. :)

I had Christy Miller as well, and other Christian books, so I turned out pretty level-headed about sex. I'd heard (from TV probably) that it was great, but I wasn't curious enough to try to dress "hot" or anything. I knew it was waiting for me someday when I found a husband.

BTW, "Summer Sisters" sucked big time. I don't think I can read an adult Judy Blume after that. Sigh.

Oh, should also mention that after reading two of the Princess Diaries books, I am glad that Disney cleaned it up for the movie. Mia is not as innocent in the books. Maybe I'm too far from the teenager years now (only 26, just for the record) but I wonder whether the series is appropriate for the age group. I'll check out the rest of the books and think about it before a final judgment, but I suspect I wouldn't let my daughter (don't have one yet, again for the record) read the series till she was out of high school. ;)

September 16, 2004 at 4:20 PM  
Blogger bobbie said...

life at that age for me was so 'abnormal' that everything i watched on t.v. or read in books was what i thought 'normal was'. that book had a huge impact on me, and i think i'm going to read it again so i can unlock those places again.

sexualized pre-adolescents are far more common now then they were in my 'day', but i still think that book introduced 'sexualization' as normal, and i and my generation 'bought it' as such.

btw - i think it's great that you are having these discussions with your daughter!

September 18, 2004 at 8:31 AM  
Blogger Deborah said...

There's a blog I visit regularly http://relapsedcatholic.blogspot.com

In it, if you scroll down a bit, you'll find a review of a book called "Stalking the Divine", a memoir about spiritual searching among some nuns by a Baby Boomer.

Here's a quote from Kathy's review: "So, how's your blood pressure? I needed a little lie down after typing that paragraph, and we're only on page 5. If you're a Gen Xer like me, your trusty Hippie Radar has gone off. (Does yours beep to the tune of "The Load” or “Share the Land”…?) Sure enough, we soon learn that Ohlsen is “a former radical communist atheist,” "the long retired member of a group of Vietnam War-era radicals" -- the worst kind, as a matter of fact: a Maoist and Black Panther collaborator. Blech."

I'd love to see what Kathy would do with this Judy Blume book.

Kathy frequently links to a site called "Boomer Death Watch"

I'm a baby boomer myself and I probably would have been a Black Panther collaborator in my day had I known some, but thankfully I've repented. My generation wreaked havoc on North America. We see now little girls, pre pubescent little girls with exposed midriffs, sexualized little girls and we can thank us baby boomers for that. It is to weep.

September 19, 2004 at 8:11 AM  
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