July 30, 2020:

By middle school nearly all the girls in my neighborhood had been either raped or molested, typically by family members but also by the increasingly aggressive teenage boys who were once their friends but were now their predators. Two brothers were especially vehement. I once saw them hold beautiful Katie down on the dirty blacktop of a back alley while they took turns fondling her breasts. The older called out to me, "C'mon Mark, squish her tits!" While Katie, with no other choice, giggled. "Oh look," she seemed to say, "he's squishing my tits." As though it were all in good fun and she were complicit.

At that age the neighborhood culture became very highly sexualized. The games changed from kick the can to truth or dare, played almost nightly, on street corners or the more accessibly upper parts of the canyon which bordered our apartment complex. Dirty jokes and innuendo became ubiquitous among both sexes. Here's a joke my friend Kathy told me around age fourteen: "What do girls and airplanes have in common? They both have a cockpit." Got it.

These working-class kids in a transient neighborhood of apartments and extended families seemed so much more sophisticated to me than the nice white-collar boys and girls of the gifted program. I had the strong sense that were I to whisper "hand job" in the ear of one of the middleschool gifted girls her answer would be, confused, "What? You mean, like, a manicure?" They lived in houses, their lives were less public, I doubt very much they played truth or dare on street corners, and they were not sexual with the same ferocious precocity as our lot certainly were.

They also — I strongly suspect this but of course can't truly know — were victimized less ubiquitously. They lacked the knowing sophistication of the girls in my neighborhood. I doubt anyone had yet squished their tits, probably not even with their consent, certainly not while holding them down on the dirty blacktop of a back alley.

I am not in any way advocating a recidivist Victorian morality of faux childhood innocence. I am interested in the way the sociology of class structured and informed and to very large degree account for the existence of that gifted program. The distinct contrast of adolescent sexual cultures is one more symptom of the way that program divided the kids from their earliest ages. Nice boys and girls, singled out in grammar school, did their homework and asked each other to the movies. They had futures, and they knew it. The great majority of the rest of the kids got raped and molested and had their tits squished whether they wanted it or not.