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Girl Land

2.77  ·  Rating Details ·  391 Ratings  ·  97 Reviews
The physical, emotional, and social milestones of every girl's life: what we've lost and gained in the 21st century.
Caitlin Flanagan's essays about marriage, sex, and families have sparked national debates. Now she turns her attention to girls: the biological and cultural milestones for girls today, and how they shape a girl's sense of herself.

The transition from girl to
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published January 12th 2012 by Reagan Arthur Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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I received this book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

First of all, this book is a quick, engaging read. I finished it in a single afternoon. It is not academic in tone or content, and the intended audience appears to be parents of adolescent girls or soon-to-be adolescent girls (not quite what I was expecting). I found it incredibly difficult to relate to this book on all but a few points, as it is rife with stereotypes. I don't mean that the book merely describes stereotypes, I mean that
Dec 21, 2011 Alena marked it as i-gave-up
Shelves: first-reads
I won this through First Reads. 30 pages in and I'm already annoyed with the author. Lots of hyperbole: "Every woman I know feels that..." Really? Every woman?
Lee Anne
May 04, 2012 Lee Anne rated it did not like it
What I thought this book was going to be: a series of essays about the milestones of puberty (dating, getting your period, losing your virginity) and how the cultural view on them has changed through the years.

What this book actually is: a series of essays in which generalizations are presented as facts, boys are presented as all-id troglodytes out to rape your daughters, and those daughters are introspective, fragile flowers who must be protected from the wolves at the door waiting to ravish th
Feb 07, 2012 Cassandra rated it it was amazing
A few years ago, I was about 24 at the time, I was walking on Lexington Avenue near 85th St, in the middle of the day. I over heard the teenage boy in front of me (couldn't have been more than 14) call the teenage girl next to him several names, including ho,bitch etc. What did she do? Shrug! I was stunned. Needless to say, I stopped the young "gentlemen" asked him to repeat himself and when he refused, told him he may never call women those names again ever! I then turned to the young "lady" an ...more
Feb 03, 2012 Ikoi rated it did not like it

Seriously, folks- finally, one of my least favorite writer's bullshit essays in one single volume! Her patriarchyftwsquee articles make my ovaries recoil in relentless horror.

If you liked this book, remove me from your friend list (here and on Facebook, Twitter, etc) ASAP. Thanks.

UPDATE: So, I actually tried to pick up this fuckwittery and attempted to read it. Mission abort due to danger of permanent brain damage due to headdesking. I do have a few sugges
Orbs n Rings
Jan 26, 2012 Orbs n Rings rated it it was ok
Shelves: reviewed
Girl Land mostly encompasses Flanagan's spotlight view of affluent girls and women on the west coast and their twisted perceptions due to mainstream Hollywood.

I had mixed feelings about Girl Land and it was certainly not what I expected. Being the youngest daughter of seven children, three others of which were girls, I could relate to her during some instances in Girl Land. For example the catcalls from the boys and at first feelings of confusion then later when I got older sort of missing that
Ashley Moonshoes
Dec 23, 2011 Ashley Moonshoes rated it did not like it
I've never read anything by Caitlin Flanagan prior to receiving this book through First Reads and won't bother with her other books or articles in the future. Based on the intriguing cover and blurbs I was expecting a book with insightful and witty essays about girlhood, maybe some critical exploration of current culture and was more than disappointed.

Flanagan's description of girlhood is nostalgic in the worst way and broadly assumes that all girls are insecure and weak and that boys are just
Feb 17, 2012 Brie rated it really liked it
I know that one of the complaints with this book is that the author is talking about the past. That is what makes this book interesting. It shows how far things have come since when the author was going through "girl land".

I think every woman who has a daughter that is about to turn into a teen needs to read this to refresh her memory of what her teenage years were like for her and how they were when she entered them. Then read the last chapter of this book to see how changed things are now.

I l
Nov 09, 2014 Tanya rated it it was ok
I am not sorry I read Girl Land, I'm furious. While a small part of my brain holds out that I should be impressed that Caitlin Flanagan could get such a book published, the rest of me remembers why I cancelled my subscription to The Atlantic several years ago when Flanagan and her ilk took over its sensibilities. Flanagan is a type I see more and more making policies and spouting advice -- affluent and raised during the turbulent era of the 1970s, scared perhaps by their own freedoms then, they ...more
Apr 09, 2012 Chelle rated it liked it
This is a well written, excellently researched, engaging book on how the lives and expectations of adolescent and teenage girls has changed over the years. By examining major markers in a girls life that generally signal her ascent into womanhood and how those now occur solidly when society still thinks of her as a girl, Flanagan looks at how this can take a toll on girls.

It's definitely a read for those who either have or work with girls regularly. For me it really reminded me how difficult bei
Janet Whalen-Jones
Apr 05, 2012 Janet Whalen-Jones rated it did not like it
Expecting an historical comparison of various aspects of growing up female in different periods of time, I was disappointed to find a rambling personal memoir. One chapter, designated "Moral Outrages", instead of comparing a variety of parental panics over the decades concentrates on the media created pseudophenomenon of the "rainbow party" (Not LGBT politics)and the author's personal dismay about this topic. This could have been a fascinating social history. It wasn't. Flappers, Anne Frank, Jud ...more
Lauren Donoho
Feb 07, 2012 Lauren Donoho rated it did not like it
Unquestionably one of the most poorly-researched, poorly-argued, and deeply problematic books about girls that I've ever read - and seriously, there are a lot of sexist books about the mental development of young women, but Flanagan really hits it out of the park in the Sexism World Series here.

I can only link to this blog:, where the most offensive quotations are illustrated with cat photos. It fairly summarizes my feelings about this book.
Jan 25, 2012 Natalie rated it liked it
I first heard about this book from my husband. As the parents of 3 soon to be 4 little girls anything about raising and parenting girls catches our attention. This book caught my husband's attention because the author was being interviewed on NPR. All of the callers were fairly hostile toward her ideas on safely helping teenage girls through to adulthood and the conclusions she ends the book with. Here are a few examples: Make her bedroom an Internet-free zone, Get her father involved in her dat ...more
Oct 25, 2016 Mallory rated it it was ok
I...was not a fan of this book. I am not well-versed in the all the theories and thought put behind feminist theories and current (or maybe this was published long enough ago that they are old?) arguments in the field, so please take this review with a large pinch of salt. The writing was fair, some chapters more lively than others. Ms. Flanagan could wax flowery at times...but it could also be that I have been away from humanities writing for so long that if it is not stark and factual, I find ...more
Jun 27, 2012 Jessica rated it it was ok
Shelves: feminism
I've been out of the reading loop for a while as social requirements and the presence of a male friend have kept me busy, so it's rather appropriate that this is my first toe-dip back into the world of bookish things. Flanagan presents here something of a survey of the ways in which the transition from girlhood to womanhood have changed over the course of the last century.

This should be interesting and, for the most part, I agree with her overall thesis that the transition if particularly diffi
How do I negative-star a review??
Awful from the word go - chapters of irrelevant Caitlin teen memories, blanket statements thrown out as accepted fact (yes, I'm sure all men with single moms grow up to be sexually predatory and every woman on earth counts adolescence as her most trying time), capped off with the absolute lack of interaction with any current inhabitants of Girl Land (I found no evidence that she spoke to ANY modern-day girls/young women in 'researching' this mess). Never mind tha
Apr 20, 2012 Donna rated it liked it
Recommends it for: females and parents of females
Shelves: nonfiction
I've enjoyed Caitlin Flanagan in the Atlantic and looked forward to this book. She makes some interesting points about the transition of females from "girls" to "adolescents" brought about by both physical changes and cultural norms. Though about 10 years older than Flanagan, I identified with many of her observations. As a mom of two daughters, I constantly worried while reading whether I had given them all the information I should have while growing up. While the book skews toward white, upper ...more
Mar 12, 2012 Sara rated it liked it
Since I just had a baby girl I figured I'd get a jump on her teenage years early and read this. It's interesting and makes some clever/insightful points, but then gets weird at the end when the author (who doesn't actually have daughters, just sons) seems to advocate government censorship (?!) as the answer to the problem of girls growing up too fast with too many pressures. She also bases a lot of her observations on "research" from the diary she kept herself as a girl. I was hoping for this to ...more
Sep 07, 2012 Elizabeth rated it did not like it
ugh - I thought this would be an excellent book to read to gather insight into today's teenage girls. I couldn't even get through the first essay on dating. The author begins the essay about dating and how it is different now then it was in the past but then quickly moves onto marital sex and the lack of knowledge that men and women had years ago - huh? what? I thought we were exploring dating? I wanted to throw the book across the room - needless to say I have put the book down in disgust and d ...more
Feb 11, 2012 Karl rated it it was ok
Women are different from men. Don't let your teenage daughter surf porn in her room. There, that might save someone a few hours of reading. I was hoping for something a bit more insightful. But I'm not a woman, so I'm sure I'm missing the point. I guess I was expecting more of an examination of the pressures of growing up in todays world, and less of a historical romp of what Prom was like in the 20s.
Bonnie Morse
Kind of sickening. The style of writing reminds me of Christian devotionals, which is fitting as the author fetishizes female adolescence as if it were a religion. I feel really bad for her sons. And myself because I paid to read this book.
Feb 01, 2012 Kaitlyn marked it as to-read
I'm not going to lie, I want to read this just so that I can hate on it with a vengeance.
Jun 20, 2011 Danielle marked it as to-read
Shelves: society
Finally, a book I didn't hear about on NPR (though I hope to). The author's articles in The Atlantic magazine are outstanding, I can only imagine her book is terrific. Due out next year.
Jan 26, 2017 Sara rated it liked it
3.5 stars
I'm not sure why there were so many negative reviews. I thought this book was very interesting.
It discusses girlhood from the 1920's to today and discusses the reasons behind certain traditions and adolescent milestones. I wasn't angered or offended like other readers were, I thought it was interesting.
Jan 26, 2012 Tami rated it it was amazing
I enjoy reading essays, so I give this book its high rating based on the fact that the prose are well written. Finding it to be a perfect marriage of the personal essay to the book review, I enjoyed reading it straight through from start to finish without a break.

Having raised two daughters, now in their twenties, and being the grandma of three young granddaughters, I find Caitlin Flanagan's recently published book, Girl Land, particularly relevant to me. In comparing the teen scenes of generat
Jun 10, 2012 Melissa rated it it was ok
I decided to read this book because Bitch Magazine had such a strongly harsh reaction against it, which made me curious, so I requested it from the library. It took months to get it! There were many people in line before me who had reserved the book. In any case, it was an enormously quick read.

It's a pretty dumb book. I mean, I don't know the point of it, really. Girl Land is supposed to be this, like, time in all girls' lives. I would call this same time "adolescence," but I guess that for th
May 13, 2013 Laurie rated it it was ok
Girl Land is not a place that exists in physical space; it’s a place in time. Girl Land is the time between childhood and womanhood, when girls turn inward, write in diaries, and dream of romance. Teen girls need protection during this time; protection from the cruel world, from boys, from the internet. They need a strong father in their lives to provide this protection, yet divorce makes it common that a girl grows up without her father present in the house to protect her from boys. Modern life ...more
Years ago Ms. Flanagan's book To Hell With All That really opened my eyes. Although I am not a parent (nor intend to be) I did appreciate its message about how important working mothers are, and really made me appreciate anew not just how hard it was for my mother to work a full-time job, cook dinner every night, and keep our house spic and span (she was smart and made all us kids help with the cleaning and other chores.) But I also just appreciated the example she set of a professional woman (a ...more
Mia Wolfe
May 11, 2014 Mia Wolfe rated it did not like it
This screed checks all the boxes: classist, sexist, heterosexists, and cissexist. Flanagan spins a myth about how all girls operate, from sources drawn mostly from her own privileged childhood, then she chastises reality for butting up against her myth. What Girl Land really is, is one perspective and a creditable one, but only one: that of white, middle class, cishet girls who are sentimental for a childhood of responsibility delayed past the point where the world and it's boys were willing to ...more
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Free Books, .99 &...: Giveaway: Girl Land 1 12 Jan 20, 2012 09:48AM  
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Caitlin Flanagan is a four-time finalist for the National Magazine Award. Her essays have appeared in Best American Essays 2003, and Best American Magazine Writing 2002, 2003, and 2004. She has made numerous national media appearances. She has been the subject of profiles and critiques in the New York Observer, Ms., The New Republic and various other publications. She lives in Los Angeles with her ...more
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“There is a paradox at the heart of contemporary Girl Land, and this paradox makes the emotional experience of female adolescence more intense and difficult than ever. On the one hand, never in history have girls had so many opportunities, or shared so fully in the kind of power that was only recently reserved for boys. Girls now outperform boys on the SAT; women outnumber men in college, and we are nearing a point at which women will outnumber men in the country’s law and medical schools.” 2 likes
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