Say you’re an average, all-American girl, born in 1987. That makes you 18 in 2005. At age five, you watched skinny women shake their asses around in the “Baby Got Back” video, which played on MTV approximately every 15 minutes during the summer of 1992. You and your little friends copied those moves and your parents thought it was so darn cute that they got out the camcorder.
At age eleven, the Spice Girls were your idols. They showed that you could achieve Girl Power by looking hot, staying skinny, and showing lots of leg. You thought Ginger Spice was the hottest, and pleaded to dye your hair red. When you got to 7th grade, you were sexually harassed by your classmates, something you shared with 83% of the female student population (Harris Interactive Poll, 2001). See, your breasts had developed rather quickly, and boys dared each other to sneak up behind you and grab them. Sometimes they succeeded, but the teachers never saw. Other girls did, and spread rumors about what a slut you were. For a while you had no friends, and you developed a quiet eating disorder. You never had a sex ed. class, because your state’s Department of Education didn’t require it. By 8th grade graduation, you heard that all the popular girls were giving blow jobs after school. Their boyfriends expected this after two weeks of going out.
High school was a little better. Luckily, you never got date-raped, but your best friend did. She didn’t do anything about it, though, because everyone knew she’d had a major crush on the rapist. Meanwhile, IM was the hot new thing, and you were busy chatting away and fending off requests to send sexy photos of yourself to the pervy guys in the chat rooms. You lost your virginity at a party in 10th grade but never spoke to the guy afterwards. You heard later that he’d assessed you as “fat thighs, great tits.” Your guy friends were all bragging about jerking off to porn, and you quickly realized that you had to act like that was no big deal. That’s what all the other girls did.
By 11th grade all the girls were wearing the Playboy bunny chokers and Porn Star shirts and shorts with “Naughty” written across the ass. Guys who dated a lot of girls called themselves “pimps,” and you and your friends went through a phase when you called each other “whore,” as a term of affection. One of the most popular guy’s dads had promised to hire him a stripper for his 18th birthday party, according to the latest rumor. You watched girls get drunk at parties and make out with each other while the guys cheered and took photos. You saw American Pie and The Girl Next Door and countless reality TV shows where women paraded around in hot pants and thong swimsuits and even wedding gowns, competing for fabulous prizes and/or husbands. Senior year, a new Hooters restaurant opened on the highway near your school and became the cool new hangout. Sometimes you ended up there with friends after the game, and your Uncle Jim hosted his 45th birthday party there.
But then you turned 18 and graduated. Your family can’t really afford college for you, and your grades were never that stellar anyway. So you do some neighborhood babysitting, and some lifeguarding at the lake, and try to imagine your next move. This girl you know says she’s going to audition at the Glass Slipper strip club on Route 39 – “always hiring new dancers!” – and invites you to come with. Your summer boyfriend thinks it’s a really hot idea.
You say you need to think about it.
All of your ideas about love and sexuality have been shaped by a lifetime of semi-sleazy, exploitative experiences. But you think of them as normal, just like you think porn is a natural part of everyone’s life. You’ve never been raped, but you’ve grown up in a rape culture. Time and again, it’s been clearly demonstrated that you, and all womankind, are really only useful for one thing. Luckily, this one thing happens to be what men will pay you top dollar for. And right now, you’re unemployed.
If you decide to become a stripper, are you really choosing freely? Or are you simply taking the next logical step in your American-girl socialization process, a track fashioned by the marketers, magazine editors, and movie producers, upon which you were placed as a young child?
Did you ever really have a choice? We think not.”
— One Angry Girl answers the FAQs — HOW CAN YOU TELL WOMEN NOT TO BE IN PORN? ISN’T IT THEIR CHOICE TO DO WHATEVER THEY WANT WITH THEIR BODIES?
I don’t don’t really know where I stand on this issue yet, but I found this passage really eye-opening to the ways women and girls are shaped to perform sexuality.