Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Relationship blues

Yes, we know teen girls obsess about boys — but there are limits to how much of that our columnist can take, she discovers!

I UNEARTHED my Sex And The City (SATC) DVDs last week and have been watching the series from season one, an episode or two before bedtime or when I feel in need of a laugh (re-runs of The X-Files were really getting me down).

I started watching SATC in my 20s and at the time I could sort of relate to the women in the show – not to Carrie Bradshaw’s shoe addiction, but to the dating misadventures experienced by the character on her journey to finding a man to spend the rest of her life with.\

I’m 45 now and find that I no longer relate to Carrie, or any of the other characters. There is an episode at the start of the second season in which Miranda Hobbes, Carrie’s sensible lawyer friend, loses her temper because her friends only seem to talk about men. She says, “Why do four smart women have nothing to talk about but boyfriends? It’s Iike seventh grade with bank accounts. What about us? What we think, we feel, we know... Does it always have to be about them?”
My thoughts exactly and this is also why I remembered being less than charmed by the final season of SATC – because there they were, still obsessed about finding “The one” and not dying alone (yes, even Miranda).

I mean, there is nothing wrong with wanting to share your life with one special person, but I don’t like how the series and its characters behave as though that life would mean less without that person. Are they saying that, if, for whatever reason, you end up single, it means you are incomplete? That’s really not the message I want to pass on to my daughter.

The thing is, although SATC is a series for adults because of its very adult content, Candace Bushnell, the writer of the book Sex And The City (on which the telly show is based) now has a young adult book series called The Carrie Diaries and it’s also being turned into a TV series.

Now, I don’t know what Carrie Bradshaw was like when she was a teenager, but I’m willing to bet that she was even more flaky than her 30-something SATC self.

I have not read the books (there are two so far), but the synopses on Amazon.com describe Carrie as a small town girl, the eldest of three sisters who live with their widower dad (I wonder what happens to him and the younger sisters – fans of SATC don’t ever get to meet any of Carrie’s relatives. In fact, the four main characters all appear to be orphans).

In The Carrie Diaries (the first book in the series), Carrie is a high school senior with three close girlfriends, one of whom is a gay guy, and a tall, dark and handsome admirer called Sebastian Kydd who sounds like an adolescent Mr Big (who Carrie marries in the TV series).

According to the School Library Journal review featured on the book’s Amazon page, “Carrie keeps letting boys run rampant over her”, which sounds very like the SATC Carrie we all know and long to smack because, really, why does a woman who supposedly attended the prestigious Ivy League Brown University (so it is revealed in The Carrie Diaries) behave like she was dropped repeatedly on her head as an infant and then force-fed crack until puberty?

You can excuse such idiocy (allowing men to treat you like dirt) in a teenager, but not in an adult. Still, I don’t think I’ll get myself copies of The Carrie Diaries and Summer And The City (the second book in the series). I know that teenage girls spend a lot of time obsessing about boys and relationships, and it’s natural and all that, but I think I’d rather read YA books with heroines who, while they might think a lot about boys, don’t behave like utter morons.

In fact, I’m a little tired of reading YA books in which relationships and sex are central to the plot.

I don’t mind one book of that sort for every half a dozen or so I read, but I think I’m due for a period of total abstinence from ink-and-paper sex and boy-related angst.

Everything in moderation, right? I can laugh at Bella Swan’s Edward-addiction in the Twilight Saga and I wouldn’t object to any young woman I care about reading the books, but I also want them to read books about teenagers who have more than sex and the opposite sex on the brain; who have so many interesting things to consider, places to go to, people to see that sex is just a tiny distraction, an amusing diversion, not an all-consuming passion. A tall order? Look out for the list on The Places You Will Go page on Facebook and post your recommendations too.

In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Tots to Teens By DAPHNE LEE-

> Daphne Lee reads to wonder and wander, be amazed and amused, horrified and heartened and inspired and comforted. She wishes more people will try it too. Send e-mails to star2@thestar.com.my and check out her blog at daphne.blogs.com/books.