Good Morning America ran a segment this morning about the sex lives of teenage girls in light of Kerry Cohen‘s new book about high school promiscuity Dirty Little Secrets. In a sit down discussion with a handful of teenage girls, the interviewer asks the girls to dish on the promiscuous sexual behaviors of girls in their school — so blatant slut-shaming essentially. Allegedly, the idea behind this segment is to reveal “what parents should know about the sexual culture in high schools today.” I can assure you nothing has changed since you were in high school, including holding girls to sexual purity while holding no such expectations for boys.
The girls featured in the segment are quite articulate about the reasoning behind “some” of their peers engaging in sexual behavior, citing attention and popularity. But discussions of “hookup parties” and drunken make out sessions inevitably return to young girls exclusively — despite that we’re assuming that these girls are being intimate with boys. And while the girls list various reasons as to why their female peers choose to such engage in such behavior, not posing the same questions about the young men at those parties places this sexual scorn explicitly on girls.
If we’re going to line up young women and judge them for their sexual behavior, including inviting their peers to give us all the gossipy details regarding the biggest school “sluts,” than the absence of boys is quite problematic. Placing only girls on the panel and then asking questions only about other sexually active girls perpetuates the notion that only girls should be accountable for sexual behavior.
In a heterosexual scenario, holding girls accountable for sexual behavior that boys are engaging in too is sexist. And maintaining that young girls function as the gatekeepers of sex — just because they’re girls — is completely archaic and outdated.
Sorry Good Morning America. Nothing new here.