Even the explanation is pretentious. But anyway, I'm not saying the whole book is like that. Frankie is quite clever, though I didn't find her engaging, and her analyses of her contemporaries can be illuminating:
Expensive clothes and high status had little effect on Frankie. But their money and popularity made life extremely easy for Matthew, Dean, Alpha, and Callum. They did not need to impress anyone and were therefore remarkably free from snarkiness, anxiety, and irksome aspirational behaviors, such as competition over grades and evaluation of one another's clothing. They were not afraid to break the rules, because consequences rarely applied to them. They were free. They were silly. They were secure....and their company is unpleasant. Frankie meets Alpha at the beginning of the book, and later when they run into each other again, Alpha pretends not to know her. Why? We're never told. Matthew, the boyfriend, treats Frankie like a cute little pet and, though she plots behind his back, Frankie lets him. All the conversations with the Basset Hounds guys are peppered with snooty banter, insufferable self-confidence, and ennui. If I met these people in real life, I'd want to punch them in their smug faces. But supporting characters aside, the real dilemma comes from Frankie:
She sat through weekly sessions with the school mental health professional in order to explore her "aggression" and to work on channeling her impulses into more socially appropriate activities. The counselor suggested competitive team sports as a positive outlet, and pushed Frankie to join the girls' field hockey team.And right there, we have the primary dilemma of feminism. If we accept that the society we live in is "patriarchal" -- that is, made by men for the benefit of men -- then the proper feminist solution is to reject that society and pursue an egalitarian ideal. Unfortunately, since that puts you out of the mainstream, you're marginalized and have little power. Conversely, one can work within the current system to gain influence there, but by doing so one tacitly accepts the rules in place.
This was not a productive solution.
It was the girls' team.
Boys didn't even play field hockey.
Boys thought nothing of field hockey.
Frankie was not interested in playing a sport that was rated as nothing by the more powerful half of the population.
Frankie clearly lands on the latter side of the fence: she wants power for herself and is willing to accept the male model in order to achieve it. Maybe this is a practical model. Men *are* the more powerful half of the population, and to get power in this world you may have to play by their rules. So I can't fault Frankie for that. What I do take issue with is that she thinks herself superior because of it. Frankie views the world through the "patriarchal" model and denigrates other females who don't do the same. They're viewed as weak, pathetic, simpering little things. One of Frankie's turning points in the book comes when her boyfriend, Matthew, calls her "harmless". Frankie wants to prove to him that she's not like those other girls, and she does so by distancing herself from them. She spends the whole book hatching plots to prove to the Basset Hounds that girls are as worthy of admission to (and leadership of) their society as boys, and ends up becoming just like them. That's just not a character I'll cheer for.
Whew! Marathon typing. Now I can finally return all of them to the library. I'm currently reading Affinity by Sarah Waters and LOVING it, so I can't wait to post that review!