The kids are not all right

The authors of Restless Virgins talk about the underbelly of teen culture at Milton Academy
By JENNY HALPER  |  August 31, 2007

If you lived in Massachusetts you heard about it. If you lived anywhere in, well, America, you probably heard about it, because the high school was Milton Academy and alumni include more than one Kennedy and college counselors dispense students to the Ivy League the way RAs hand out condoms to incoming freshman (but maybe that metaphor hits the nail too hard on the head).

When the scandal made headlines the winter of 2005 ― a fifteen year-old girl giving blow jobs to five hockey players in a locker room ― Abigail Jones and Marissa Miley were working at the Atlantic. “You girls graduated from Milton, didn’t you?” a colleague asked, and the journalists (class of ’99 and ’98 respectively) huddled in the kitchen. Milton to them was teachers they adored, challenging classes, extra-curricular activities. There were high school hook-ups, sure, but this? “There’s this whole aspect of performing sexual acts in a public arena that did not seem to be going on when we were there,” Miley says.

Their new book, Restless Virgins: Love, Sex, and Survival at a New England Prep school, begins with Milton’s fall walk-in and ends at graduation, months after five hockey players slipped into the varsity locker room ― sanctuary of shit tickets, nude bodies, and pee contests ― to get a series of blow jobs from a fifteen-year-old girl.

Was it rape? Alan Dershowitz, whose daughter was a student, says it wasn’t. Was it innocent adolescent mischief twisted by what Jones and Miley term “generation exhibitionism”? It’s no secret that reporters swarmed Milton that winter. Butthe authors, flushed from their first TV appearance when we met in a café in Back Bay, didn’t set foot on campus while writing. They chose instead to interview (again and again and again) students from the class of 2005, and Restless Virgins tells their drama-centric story: we gave hand jobs in hotels, we had sex in our basements and let guys watch, hooking up with the hottest hockey god was as important as…well, nothing was more important.

Your title refers, obviously, to both genders, but the picture on the cover is of girls. Did you worry that readers might think specifically of the girl involved in the incident ― that she is the “Restless Virgin”?
MARISSA: “Restless Virgins” applies to teenagers. Every teenager is virginal in life. It’s not singling out any particular group and saying “aha.”

ABIGAIL: Some students we spoke with felt that she was just as responsible as the boys. Others disagreed. We wanted to represent the landscape of experiences. From day-one we said “this is not a book about our opinions.”

Marissa, you’ve said girls and guys are not on an equal playing field.
We are interested in women’s empowerment. When we were talking at the very beginning we were saying, “How are girls who are at one of the country’s best schools ― they’re so bright and they’re so talented ― what is going on inside their minds when they decide to engage in sexual acts that seem devoid of intimacy and devoid of emotion?”  One of the girls in our book has oral sex on a guy to get him to like her. It was so important to understand why. And there’s pressure on the guy’s part: the pursuit of a story, having the right story to tell. (Students) Reed and Brady talk a lot about that.

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