What Peer Groups Value

I’m once again trapped in reading Bildungsromane, and I started thinking about what peer groups value based on gender. When I was a girl, the only thing that was valued was whether you had a boy who brought you presents. And when I was a young woman, the only thing that was valued was if there was a guy willing to offer marriage.

In the male Bildungsromane I’m reading, it looks like what boys value is physical strength and if you can beat somebody up. I asked N and he says it’s exactly how he remembers it. Apparently, he spent his teenage years beating guys up and getting beaten up.

I’m very glad to be the age I am because I no longer even bother to think about what my peer group values.


These sudden, unanticipated school closures have one goal: to squeeze as many people as possible out of public schools. I have seen announcements of this kind many times in recent days. Schools close one day a week. Two sporadic days a month. Classes are cut by an hour. Then, on some weeks, by an hour and a half. It’s all very unpredictable, and that’s by design. If the mother wants to hold down a job, she’ll be forced to pull the kids out of public school and find another solution.

This is austerity in action. And it’s coming for every public service. Policing, roads, fire stations, everything. The goal is to make all of us poorer, more scared, more helpless.

Lessons from the USSR

In the USSR, I felt endlessly angry about every bit of stupidity that was inflicted on us. Forced attendance at demonstrations, obligatory trips to the kolkhoz, everything. Most people accepted it and tried to find something positive in it. Why feel angry about something you can’t change? they’d say. And when the USSR ended, they kept putting up with its remnants – the same obligatory trips to the kolkhoz, the same humiliations, the same disrespect. They didn’t understand that the only way to stop it could only come from them. They had to stop participating. There’s no benign outside authority that can make things better. Only you can do it. You decide where the off-ramp is and you take it when you choose to do so.