Teenage Tribes and the Myth of the Slut
Scribner, Hardcover, 9780684867403, 224pp.
Publication Date: March 5, 2002
In this brilliant fusion of reportage, criticism, and memoir, Emily White provides an in-depth look at the girls who were labeled high school sluts and the culture that perpetuates the myth. White began this project by placing a query in a syndicated newspaper column -- "Are you now or were you the slut of your high school class?" -- and by setting up an 800 number in her home to talk with girls who were branded as sluts. Through interviews, e-mails, and other exchanges with more than one hundred girls and women across the country, White identifies the common threads in their life stories and deconstructs the archetype of the slut, revealing how it reflects our society's attitudes toward sex, women, and the outsider. She seamlessly combines her own research with cogent analysis of feminist thought and a critical examination of popular films and music, resulting in a book that not only explains the preconditions of the slut -- what qualities lead a girl to be targeted, which communities most often target her-- but also tells us why our culture "needs" her.
With remarkable empathy and understanding for her subjects, Emily White opens a window on the tribal world of teenagers and the lasting effects of adolescent ostracism. Incisive and affecting, provocative and haunting, "Fast Girls" marks the debut of an important new voice for feminism.