Tag Archives: teenagers

Sunday Scraps 99


1. TAVI: 16-year-olds have no right to be so cool and self-assured. This kid says everything I figured out ten years later about media, feminism, stereotypes, yada yada yada.

2. HEALTH: This American Life is on a roll. Killer piece about the huge upward trend in Americans filing for disability. Why? When? How did this happen? Better question, what do we do it about?

3. ADVERTISING: Sociological Images uses the interesting case of Rolling Rock beer to discuss the appropriation of working class iconography by upper class cohorts for the purposes of “seeming real.”

4. ROMANCE: Nick Offerman + Megan Mullally = Forever. THEY ARE THE BEST, and lucky us, NYMag compiled a history of their love.

5. POLITICS: Just for kicks, cats that look like politicians. Or politicians that look like cats?

6. LGBTQ: Really thought-provoking essay for BuzzFeed about the importance of gay porn, by gay porn performer Connor Habib.

Related Post: Sunday 98 – Marriage in China, mean girls, George Saunders and his editor, etc.

Related Post: Sunday 97 – Writing with a gender neutral name, Cindy Gallop, Anita Sarkeesian, etc.



Filed under Advertising, Art, Gender, Hollywood, Politics, Sex

What if it were an 18-year-old female pop star talking about her sex life?

Remember that plug in Jailbreak the Patriarchy? It’s been too long since we gender swapped the internet, don’t you think?

A few weeks ago, Harry Styles, the 18-year-old member of the pipsqueak band One Direction, was interviewed by OK about his sexual history. He speaks quite candidly his safe sex habits and about how the first time he had sex, he was “terrified” that he might have gotten his partner pregnant (even though they used condoms).

Generally, I think it’s none of my business who celebrities are having sex with or how, but if we’re going to talk about it, I kind of love Styles for talking about it like this. It’s matter of fact, it’s honest, and it reinforces the idea that safe sex can be sexy (at least as sexy as mop-topped teenagers). But just take a minute and imagine the reaction if an 18-year-old female pop star spoke in exactly the same way. Genderswapping in 3, 2, 1….

“She is a bona fide heartthrob with all the male attention any young woman could want. But Harry Styles has revealed that she was not always that confident or experienced with men. The One Direction star has revealed how after the first time she had sex she was terrified she may have gotten pregnant. Speaking to OK! magazine, she said: ‘The first time I had sex, I was scared I got pregnant. And that was despite the fact we were safe. Luckily, we were fine.”

Harry, 18, has built up a reputation as quite a manizer but despite the many rumours she admitted that she always practices safe sex. She told the magazine: ‘I would never risk not [having him] wear a condom, it’s too much of a risk. If you’re not ready for a child, then don’t risk it.”

Can you ever imagine reading that about Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato? Even from the mouth of a 25-year-old actress I would floored to see such sexual candor in print. Here’s what jumps out to me:

  • “Having all the male attention she could want” – Women are expected to shy away from attention, to minimize it, or at least pretend it’s not what they’re seeking. It’s completely acceptable for a male pop star to admit that he enjoys it.
  • “Being experienced with men.” – How many people read this and kind of smirked. “Experienced with men” is code for slutty, right? If a woman were to claim that she was experienced, especially a teenager, she would absolutely pilloried for setting a horrifying example for her fans.
  • “Manizer.” – Ha. Genderswap doesn’t even have a word for this. You know why? It’s because a “manizer” is another code word for “slut.”
  • Safety – When a 18-year-old guy swears by prophylactics, he’s a responsible, stand-up guy (and seriously, if he’s telling the truth, good for him!). If an 18-year-old girl swears by contraception, she gets Sandra Fluked (who, by the way, is 31).

The goal here is not to berate Styles for being sexually active or to idolize him for his avowed commitment to condoms. The point here is to acknowledge how differently we treat burgeoning sexuality among teenaged boys and girls.

Related Post: Genderswapping the Marissa Mayer Yahoo announcement.

Related Post: The week in feminism, Taylor Swift and more.


Filed under Gender, Media, Sex

Rock and a Hard Place

This will be the last thing I write about the Facebook page “12 Year Old Sluts,” unless, of course, it’s taken down, in which case I will crow from the rooftops.

This time, for Role/RebootI didn’t write about my rage at Facebook, or my petition, or why these men are sick and twisted. We (the collective progressive, feminist, feminist ally, sex-positive “we”) take for granted that this page is horrifying. We think the level of its heinousness is just too obvious ignore. For this piece though, I wanted to think through specifically what makes it so damaging, why it’s only an extension of existing double standards, and why some people think it’s just A-ok.

The “12 Year Old Sluts” page is just the most extreme example of the double bind that teenaged girls (and adult women) deal with all the time. It’s the worst incarnation of what happens when you’re stuck between wanting to be attractive and sexy, but not wanting to be thought too sexy (ready slutty). The sweet spot is small and hard to find, and it’s no surprise to me that teenagers get it so so wrong. Don’t we all from time to time?

Related Post: Don’t take my picture! Come on, you’re at the beach!

Related Post: Bras for children that “1000% cute!”

1 Comment

Filed under Gender, Media, Republished!, Sex

I’ve Never Started a Petition Before

Until today, I had never started a petition. I wasn’t that kid in high school who went lunch table to lunch table advocating for new textbooks, or better candy in the snack machines, or cheaper prom tickets. I preferred to write my feelings (and sometimes rant my feelings) and then to think that my part in the struggle was done because I’d said my piece.

Yesterday, someone sent me a Facebook page called “12 Year Old Sluts,” (trigger warning) in which the moderators (two adult men) post and repost pictures of teenaged girls (and sometimes younger) in provocative poses for their commentariat to rip to shreds. They profess to be teaching these girls “a lesson” about not being “slutty” on the internet. The comments at best are guffaws and jokes about the girls being ugly (a lot of “I’d rather fuck a cow/tractor/dog than her”.) At worst, they are threatening (“I’d tap that…with a truck full of explosives,” “She needs a hug, around the neck…with a rope”). Many of the comments are from other girls.

I reported the page to Facebook as a violation of their community standards (which include bans on violence, threats, bullying, and harassment). They responded: “Thanks for your recent report of a potential violation on Facebook. After reviewing your report, we were not able to confirm that the specific page you reported violates Facebook’s Statement of Rights and Responsibilities.”

I can’t remember the last time I was this blindingly angry. Writing a post didn’t seem to be enough. Ranting on Facebook didn’t seem to be enough. Tweeting my rage didn’t seem to be enough. This page’s sole purpose is to promote the harassment of women and girls, to limit the ways in which they can express themselves, to shame them into behaving a certain way, and to tear them down if they don’t. The men who created this page think they are doing someone a favor by shredding a girl’s self-esteem so she “learns a lesson.” All they do is perpetuate a cycle where women are valued strictly for how much men like to look at them.

I started a change.org petition to get Facebook to remove this page. It is currently filed under “Controversial Humor.” Here’s the full text of my letter:

Related Post: On Daniel Tosh and rape jokes.

Related Post: Anita Sarkeesian gets harassed for attempting to research violence in video games


Filed under Gender, Media

Rehabilitating the Hoodie

“You’re not going to rehabilitate the hoodie…There are some things that are almost inevitable. I’m not saying Trayvon Martin had a weapon or anything, but he wore an outfit that allowed someone to respond in this irrational, overzealous way. If he had been dressed more appropriately… unless it’s raining out, or you’re at a track meet, leave the hoodie at home.”

Lordy, lordy, lordy. “An outfit that allowed someone to respond in an irrational, overzealous way.” Does that sound familiar to anyone else? Is that not the exact logic victim-blamers use when using women’s clothing as an excuse for sexual harassment, assault, and rape? If she hadn’t been wearing…. If she hadn’t been acting so… If she wasn’t the type of girl who….

Outfits do not cause people to do stupid, hateful, bigoted things. To attribute someone’s irrational behavior to an inanimate object is to deny them agency and self-control. George Zimmerman, Trayvon Martin’s shooter, should be offended. Geraldo’s allegation here is that Zimmerman is a man with no control over his body or his mind. He sees that hoodie, and he just can’t help himself.

And Trayvon, according to Geraldo’s logic, wanted to be viewed as a gangster. Choosing an item of clothing owned by every teenager in America is clearly a window into his desire to appear thuggish, not an indication that hoodies are the comfiest of comfy clothing. My brother is a sophomore in college. He is also white. A quick perusal of his Facebook is an overwhelming barrage of hoodies. These insidious items are everywhere! In every picture where he’s not wearing a basketball jersey or a prom tux, he’s wearing a hoodie. Do you find him suspicious, George Zimmerman? Would you justify an attack on him, Geraldo?

On a more positive note:

This is New York State Senator Eric Adams on the Senate Floor.

The Miami Heat in a tweet from LeBron James.

Oh my! Is that me in a hoodie? Goddamn do I look suspicious!

My brother. What a gangster.



Related Post: A great allegory for victim-blaming, “after-donation regret.”

Related Post: Apparently, “I have friends who are black” is still a defense against racism.

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Filed under Media, Politics

Sunday Scraps 18

1. LANGUAGE: Teenagers liked texting because it offered a “secret” way to communicate, but then grown-ups learned lol and omg, and the jig was up. Now, teenagers are using extinct, or near-extinct languages to revive that sense of secrecy, like teens in Chile who are posting youtube videos in Huiliche.

2. DATING: Caroline Lancaster writes for Role/Reboot about opting out of the relationship game….for four years, and the looks you get from a gynecologist when you’re a sexually inactive 26-year-old.

3. ADVERTISING: Copyranter has found the unfindable… a sanitary napkin ad with a reference to blood! Wait, what? You mean it’s not supposed to be blue liquid?

4. SHERYL: The New Yorker has a fascinating profile of Facebook exec Sheryl Sandberg, elaborating on her Barnard commencement address and the whole “lean in” advice.

5. BOOKS: When he sold his first book, Alex Shakar had never made more than $12,000. His novel was a meditation on consumerism and was poised to be a bestseller… and then 9/11 happened and it all came crumbling down. He recounts the tumultuous year in this essay for The Millions.

6.RESISTANCE: Sociological Images has a fun collection of examples of graffiti identifying and protesting misogynistic advertising. For example, on a Special K billboard, “I know you think I should diet so I can be slim just like you. Thing is, I think I look pretty fabulous just the way I am. Also, Special-K tastes like cardboard.”

Related Post: Sunday 17 = Dirty Jobs, Katie Price, the AMA and monogamy.

Related Post: Sunday 16 = Autostraddle, John Legend, negotiating skilllz and Mac McClelland.


Filed under Advertising, Books, Gender, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People

Round 412: Why-Oh-Why-Do-Teenage-Girls-Dress-Like-Prostitutes??

In one corner, representing slut-shaming, fear-mongering, guilt-tripping and maternal narcissism, Wall Street Journal writer Jennifer Moses. In the other, a calm understanding that sexuality (both adolescent and adult) is neither good nor bad in nature, but complex and highly individual.

Moses’ piece hinges on the hypothesis that modern moms are deeply conflicted about their own sexual histories. Wary of hypocrisy, they refrain from reigning in their daughters’ desires to dress like Julia Roberts circa Pretty Woman:

We were also the first not only to be free of old-fashioned fears about our reputations but actually pressured by our peers and the wider culture to find our true womanhood in the bedroom. Not all of us are former good-time girls now drowning in regret—I know women of my generation who waited until marriage—but that’s certainly the norm among my peers.”

There may be women (most of Moses’ circle of girlfriends, apparently), who felt that the “sexual freedom” of the ’70s manifested as unwanted sexual pressure from peers to “find true womanhood in the bedroom.” I am sad for these women. Pressure to be sexually adventurous is as harmful as pressure to be sexually chaste. But whoa… Sara and I have some initial reactions to the good-time-girl/good-girl dichotomy:You are either a “good-time girl” who regrets your sexual history, or you waited for marriage. I think we’re missing another possibility. If one bothered to look behind Door #3, one might find at least a few women who did not wait for marriage and don’t regret their pasts. Shocker, right? Women can have pre-marital sex and also avoid crippling guilt! Who knew?

What teenage girl doesn’t want to be attractive, sought-after and popular? And what mom doesn’t want to help that cause? In my own case, when I see my daughter in drop-dead gorgeous mode, I experience something akin to a thrill—especially since I myself am somewhat past the age to turn heads.” Ugh. Here we go again with the beauty myth.

The real question, the one we ought to be asking ourselves, is why do teenage girls feel that their sexuality is the best thing about themselves, the thing they need to share with the world? Why not their smarts, their humor, their kindness, athleticism, or artistic skills? Does Moses experience that “thrill” when her daughter brings home an “A,” scores a goal on the soccer field, earns a genuine compliment from a peer, or articulates herself eloquently? Or are those thrills reserved for “drop dead gorgeous mode?”

Girls dress like prostitutes because it’s a quick path to compliments and praise. Everywhere they look, they see  positive energy and admiration directed like laser beams at the “hot” girls. Who wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of all that?

Sidenote: Moses seems to think that sex is deadly:

Related Post: Checkout an article I wrote for The Good Men Project called “Talking to Your Daughter About Beauty”

Related Post: Moses isn’t the only one who got it wrong… Caitlin Flanagan at the Atlantic strikes again.


Filed under Body Image, Family, Gender, Media, Sex