While submersed in years of middle school research, I kept hearing how girls had gained so much power. If that was true, why was I watching them abase themselves to impress boys every day? Yes, they spoke up more. They were sassy. But an awfully large number let boys grind into them at dances even when it made them uncomfortable and cared more than anything what boys thought of them. To me, that wasn’t power at all.
Annie Lowrey writes in Slate this week about research on teenagers that confirms my concerns. Peter Arcidiacono and Marjorie McElroy of Duke and Andrew Beauchamp of Boston College used Add Health data to determine how high schoolers pair up. They found that girls who don’t want to have sex wind up doing so anyway, because having a relationship is that important to them (and boys aren’t interested in relationships without sex). These findings aren’t surprising to anyone who know teen culture well, but empirical data about adolescent relationships is rare—check out the study, “Terms of Endearment” (really?), for more.