May 1 2013
If you read Charles Murray and Kay Hymowitz, you know that there are (with apologies to John Edwards) two Americas: an America in which parents marry and seek to establish the middle-class behavioral patterns that lead to social mobility, and an America of illegitimacy and poverty.
Now a fascinating article in an English magazine is suggesting that feminism, with its emphasis on upward mobility for women, has created yet another class division.
Let’s call it A-student virgins, who go onto professional careers, versus C-student fun girls, who are less likely to be on top professionally in later life.
Alison Wolf writes in the London Spectator:
James is 15 years old, coming up to his GCSEs; and the researcher he is talking to is clueless about girls. Yes, he tells her, girls at his school, underage girls, do indeed have sex. With guys in their class, like him. The researcher is surprised. Haven’t girls gone studious; aren’t they collecting the top grades, leaving the boys behind?
James states the obvious. ‘It’s not girls with As or A*s,’ he explains. ‘Girls with As are virgins.’
Today, almost a quarter of girls report having underage sex. But there are almost as many girls waiting till they’re 20 or more. This isn’t random, a question of whether and when the right boy appears. Instead, it’s a parting of the ways. One group of girls is setting off along an alpha track, leaving their contemporaries behind; and teenage sex lives are a very good predictor of who they are.
A* girls stay virgin because they have more important things on their minds. It’s not just peer pressure, or social class: it’s also ambition. These girls have realistic, achievable and life-altering goals for which it’s well worth postponing sex. Others don’t. In the years since the Pill made teenage sex a safe activity, a gulf has emerged. In America, high-school dropouts now report becoming sexually active almost three years earlier than girls with law school in their sights.
Wolf makes the point that “alpha-path women” in Europe rarely drop out of the workforce completely to rear children because they know that doing so can impede their career. This is another way of saying that women’s salaries and positions in the corporate world are affected by their choices.
This article prompts me to ask a values-free question about the FDA’s decision to okay the Plan B Pill, the so-called morning after pill, without a prescription for fifteen-year-old girls: Is this going to be good for girls' grades? Just asking…