July 13, 2006

"Today, 'slut,' even 'ho' -- girls use it in a fun way, a positive way."

So says Seventeen magazine editor-in-chief Atoosa Rubenstein.
Beyond the word itself, cultivating an exhibitionistic, slutty appearance — donning the trappings of promiscuity as opposed to actually being promiscuous — has been a growing influence on fashion and popular culture for a decade.
Biggest cultural development: This long fashion/culture piece contains no reference to Madonna. Am I telling you to go read this whole NYT article? It's a rambling grab bag of observations about young women and sluttery. And I don't mean that as a compliment.

IN THE COMMENTS: Thecla Mauro writes:
While shopping for my ten year old neice one day I overheard one mother say to another, of her eight year old daughter (standing right beside her) "she has a sexy little body, why shouldn't she show it off?"

The mother was busily looking through racks of 'ho clothes for her child. Blew my mind.
For more Mauro, read her blog. For more talk about this subject, read the comments.

23 comments:

chuck b. said...

Atoosa, you ignorant slut!

HaloJonesFan said...

And, of course, the Dem/Left will say that there is nothing wrong with this behavior, it's merely natural and healthy expression of human sexuality, unless of course you're actually attracted to these girls in which case you're a sicko pervert who should be castrated with a cattle prod.

Palladian said...

"...cultivating an exhibitionistic, slutty appearance — donning the trappings of promiscuity as opposed to actually being promiscuous — has been a growing influence on fashion and popular culture for a decade."

As have the complete abandonment of beauty, self-respect, creativity, imagination, and any depth beyond the few inches required for copulation.

"Popular culture" needs to stop dry humping our leg.

Jennifer said...

Fantastic. Public education seeks to beat my son into feminine submission and I have the voluntary prostituteration of my daughter to look forward to.

Maybe I'll start a commune.

Dawn said...

Dress codes? At my oldest kid's middle school you'd never know they have one; I was appalled at how some of the girls dress (black thong under a sheer pink mini). I'm not kidding. These are 11-14 year olds.

Alot of this goes back to the girls parents, and how some of them want to be their daughter's buddy, rather than their parent. Our girls are not allowed to dress like that, and have told me that in their view, girls who do dress like that are 'skanks and sluts'. There is hope!

Looks like we won't be purchasing Seventeen anymore, if this is Altoosa's idea of a 'fun way, a postive way' teenage girls should present themselves.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that the posters above have a lot of good points. The problem is that this slutty dress says exactly that to the boys, that the girls want to have sex. Often, they don't, but that is the message received subconsciously by the hormone crazed boys. So, the proposed solution is that the boys just show self-control.

But is that really the right solution? To flaunt what the boys want most out of life at that age in front of them on a routine basis, and then deny tnem it, on the basis of building self-control?

In response to HaloJonesFan's point, yes, this might be considered a natural and healthy expression of human sexuality, except that we don't want the kids to go through with it. As a species, we are wired and juiced (i.e. with hormones) to start mating and having families at this age. That works fine in a society where we are mostly dead by 40, but not so well in a society where you most often don't get out of graduate school until 25 or so. Do we want our 15 year olds mating and raising kids, or getting ready for college?

Bruce Hayden said...

I always do wonder about the parents who go along with this. Some even push this behavior, though, hopefully, mostly it is giving in to the girls. But why would a parent consciously decide that it is ok for their 15 year old daughter to act like she wanted sex, right then and there, on a pretty indiscriminate basis? Obviously, of course, for most, it isn't conscious, and, IMHO, they really don't understand the messages that their daughters are sending out by engaging in this behavior and dressing this way, or when they do, they can't ocntrol it (but then, who is paying for those clothes in the first place).

Let me add that there is a lot of pressure on the girls to conform to this. First, the boys like it. They prefer girls who look like they are likely to put out. Only natural given that their second brain is in control at this age. But also, a lot of the "role models" dress this way too - esp. in pop culture.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

If it walks like a slut and quacks like a slut....

Hecla Ma said...

While shopping for my ten year old neice one day I overheard one mother say to another, of her eight year old daughter (standing right beside her) "she has a sexy little body, why shouldn't she show it off?"

The mother was busily looking through racks of 'ho clothes for her child. Blew my mind.

Bruce Hayden said...

Ruth Anne

Obviously, some of the girls who dress that provocatively are really sluts. but it is hard to believe that those MS girls are - yet.

R C Dean said...

People, in their depthless self-absorption, have forgotten that clothing serves a couple of purposes other than protecting you from the weather and providing you with pockets.

First, what you wear shows how you view yourself and how you want to be viewed. If you dress like a slut, then at some level that is your self-image, and self-images have a nasty way of becoming self-fulfilling.

Second, what you wear shows how much respect you have for the people you will be with. If you go to a meeting or the office wearing flip-flops, raggedy shorts, and faded old shirt, you are letting everyone know that you have pretty much zero regard and respect for them.

JohnK said...

Thecla,

That has to be the grossest thing I have ever read. How can anyone but an old pervert refer to a 10 year old in terms of sexy?

You have your whole life to have sex, be sexy, be ugly, whatever. I don't understand why we want to encourage children to embrace sexuality at a younger and younger age. Adolescents are sexual creatures on there own. They don't need any encouragment. They know what go means. They don't know what stop means and they have no idea what the consequences of their desires can be. No matter how much you beat it down, adolescent sexuality will be there, which is fine. That said, we are a lot better off keeping it under control and making kids waite until they are older before they have the full freedom to express and explore thier sexuality.

BrianOfAtlanta said...

Ann, I thought the same thing. Madonna was poster girl for and largely started this craze 20 years ago, not 10.

ignacio said...

I believe there's a lot of "Look but don't touch" going on. Madonna certainly was a driving force; my feminist-lesbian sister still sees her as an icon of sorts and has raised her now 13 year old daughter (who is star of her soccer team with long hair and interested in boys but no means dresses like a "slut").

The Catherine MacKinnon-Andrea Dworkin wing of radical feminism which pushed the notion that all sex featuring penetration was rape and that pornography was just as bad (their definition of pornography including "Baywatch" and "Charlie's Angels") lost out to the "sex-positive" side -- see Rene Denfeld's book "The New Victorians" as one important document... which yes, has meant some exhibitionism --

-- but the young women, having studied Madonna, had figured out that if you had the power to control who looked where and at what then you controlled the exchange.

Actually, by the way, Leftist Feminists view this all as a Republican plot and rant about shaved pubic hair and tattoos as rightwing sadomasochism.

It's my understanding, however, that teenage sex -- and certainly teen pregnancy -- is down.

Dawn said...

Thecla - were you at a Limited Too by chance? I can't believe some of the clothes there, and they're mild.

Ig - Do you have any links to those demographics? I'd like to see them. My experience at the clinic I used to work at was that the numbers on teen pregancy was down, but the age at which the girls were getting pregnant was dropping (12 and 13 year olds). Thanks for your help with this.

Ruth Anne Adams said...

Bruce Hayden: That's true. Middle school girls who dress sluttily are not all sluts. Yet. I believe the virtue of modesty is in decline and rather than give over to it, parents need to draw a line in the sand and say 'no more!' If a middle school girl is allowed to dress like a slut, it's really only a matter of time before the text catches up to the book cover.

al said...

Bunker - when my oldest sister was doing her OB residency 25 years ago in Chicago she delivered a fair number of kids to 12 and 13 year olds. The youngest she ever mentioned was 11.

Personally any friend of my daughter that uses slut or ho to describe her will no longer be welcome in our house and I'll explain to her parents why. Any boy who refers to her that way better run real fast...

Vogrin said...

"Just because I dress this way, does NOT make me a 'ho!"
"That's fine. But you are wearing a 'ho's uniform."

I think I saw it on Dave Chappelle or some similar comet.

Daryl Herbert said...

Our girls are not allowed to dress like that, and have told me that in their view, girls who do dress like that are 'skanks and sluts'.

It's good that you've taught your daughters to look down on other children.

Finn Kristiansen said...

Rap (and other popular music) largely created the modern usage of words like "ho" (along with bitch).

People like to create some sort of intellectual or feminist spin, linking it to Madonna's long ago relevance and ability to play with the ideas, supposedly, of power and sexuality. Reality proves otherwise.

No matter how women might try to make the usage of those words "fun" and "positive", the words are still funneled into society from the thoughts of men, and men tend to know what they mean by them, no matter what women try to imagine men mean.

Young women today have a total disconnect between message and intent, and assume that men can parse the mixed signal in a way that is satifying (to the woman). But young men are usually stupid or selfish, with all roads, messages, and signs leading to their loins.

Balfegor said...

It's good that you've taught your daughters to look down on other children.

Oh please -- teach your children not to spit in public because it's disgusting and you're teaching "your daughters to look down on other children." Well yes. Because it is disgusting. And so is dressing like a slattern when you're 8 years old.

Mozzul said...

Woah wait a go on stereotypes, this is why teenagers actually give up on talking to adults I agree to a certain extent that fashion takes its prey too early but i think the general attack on certain styles
"Public education seeks to beat my son into feminine submission and I have the voluntary prostituteration of my daughter to look forward to."
and such like is a little over kill, plus the some of the comments actually move onto teenagers themselves...which is kinda my expertise since i am one i guess i felt parents needed to hear it from us, ignore this comment if u want.

Fashion is obviously a form of expression, and i guess that's why it becomes so important if you look like something it is easier to become something and i guess it depends on someones personal perceptions tht "something" as whether its desirable or not. So on a teenage "journey of self-discovery" (how cliche) its a vital tool along with music etc. but i guess with parents they dress their kids wen their lil as wat the other kids at school dress as and they feel pressured to do so becos they dont want their kid to be the odd one out. That's not bad parenting that's just pride. God bless you parents you don't half try, quite often fail but you realli do try, i just dont think your being fair on other parents realli i mean no ones perfect. You must no tht yourself. Sorry if this is patronising it wasnt meant to be.

Mozzul said...

ooh after reading a few more comments (there are a lot erm has everyone forgot that teenagers do like have brains or the majority of them anyway...