News reports today tell us that American girls are now hitting puberty as early as seven or eight.
If I were a little girl -- or the mother of little girls (I have no kids) -- this would be a real nightmare.
Find me any girl who's eager to have to deal with their period sooner rather than later. Let alone navigating the shoals of sexuality, fertility and hormonal surges, tough enough at 13, for years the age of the onset of puberty, now as young as 10.
Now imagine being that girl's mother. Time for "the talk" -- at seven? Good luck with that.
I got my period at 15 and didn't get it again for a year. My stepmother shouted instuctions on tampon insertion through the bathroom door. Life as I knew it, carefree, was over. And it never arrived in a tidy 28 day or 30 day cycle. I dreaded the sudden tell-tale stain on new clothes or sheets or a at a boyfriend's house, my body's sneak attack.
I didn't particularly want a period. I never wanted kids, so while menstruation reassured me I was healthy enough to have one, it wasn't, as it is for some women, a source of deep joy or proof of womynhood.
Instead, it was, forever showing up on a romantic weekend away or in the middle of a wilderness canoe trip, as often as not just a bloody annoyance.
One of the toughest parts of becoming a woman with visible breasts and hips is the male attention it inevitably draws. For every girl who revels in her newfound sexual power, swiveling her hips and shaking her booty, there are some of us who long for the simpler life of the undeveloped.
Because managing unwanted male attention -- the assault of strangers' whistles, catcalls or worse -- is exhausting enough for adults, let alone teens or children, especially eager for approval, inclusion and acceptance.
Add to puberty at seven a wider popular culture that sexualizes and fetishizes female sexuality while dismissing our intellectual and emotional powers and you've got a recipe for disaster.