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(Most of them had faked it.) And while the majority of them regarded providing oral sex as a mandatory feature of the most fleeting sexual encounter, they rarely received, or expected to receive, oral sex in return.
(Several rejected the idea of cunnilingus as embarrassing and worried that their vaginas were “ugly, rank, unappealing.”)Some of the misery of teenage girls’ sexual experiences is attributable, Orenstein contends, to the “hookup culture” in which sex, “rather than being a product of intimacy…has become its precursor, or sometimes its replacement.” (Rates of female orgasm are much lower for casual encounters, she notes, than for sex that takes place within committed relationships.) Another contributing factor, she suggests, is the part that pornography now plays in determining normative standards of teenage sexual behavior.
And everybody wants to be the girl everybody wants to fuck. The “empowering” nature of hotness is a theme that crops up frequently in Sales’s book.
Every girl who isn’t that girl secretly hates herself…. A number of the girls she meets vehemently reject the notion that they are oppressed or objectified on social media.
Danielle, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, 2010; photograph by Rania Matar from her book A Girl and Her Room (2012), which collects her portraits of teenage girls in their bedrooms in the US and Lebanon.(In 1992, only 16 percent of women aged eighteen to twenty-four had tried anal sex; today, the figure has risen to 40 percent.) Despite the fact that most girls report finding anal penetration unpleasant or actively painful, they often, Orenstein claims, feel compelled to be good sports and submit to it anyway.(According to one study she cites, girls are four times as likely as boys to consent to sex they don’t want.) Among the girls she interviewed, the most common reasons given for doing so were a fear of being considered “uptight” and a desire to avoid “awkwardness.”History has taught us to be wary of middle-aged people complaining about the mores of the young.(A group of thirteen-year-olds in Florida explain to Sales that girls who acquiesce to demands for “nudes” run the risk of having their photos posted on amateur porn sites, or “slut pages,” while those who demur are usually punished in some other way—by being branded “prudes,” or by having sexual rumors spread about them.)The unsparing gaze that social media train on girls’ sexuality—the supreme value that they place on being sexually appealing—engenders a widespread female anxiety about physical appearance that is highly conducive to “self-objectification,” Sales claims.
All of her interview subjects agree that on sites like Instagram and Facebook, female popularity (as quantified by the number of “likes” a girl’s photos receive) depends on being deemed “hot.” “You have to have a perfect body and big butt,” a fifteen-year-old from the Bronx observes grimly.The popular culture abounds with inspirational images and anthems of girls “leaning in” and “running the world.” But according to two new, rather bleak books, these official signs of progress have given us an unduly rosy impression of the modern girl’s lot.