Unintended Consequences of Feminism Part 3- Girls Gone Wild

While it may not be true for older women, for younger ones (approximately 35 and under) you are only truly an emancipated woman if you can freely express your sexuality. Most often that expression is supposed to come in the form of flashing your breasts at any guy who has a camera, going out several times a week and getting drunk, ‘hooking up’ with who ever grabs your fancy and wearing clothes that even hookers would be embarrassed to wear. Should you choose not to go for any of that then you must be repressed in some way (usually by your religious choices) and are therefore, not truly emancipated.

The girls gone wild phenomenon is personified byHollywoodstarlets-LindsayLohan, Britney Spears, Paris Hilton et al. They are the role models that teenagers and women in their early twenties see as powerful women; women who have it all. Power, money, great careers, fantastic looks, droves of guys desperate for them, and the real draw card- fame. Despite the considerable amount of words in print criticizing the failings of these starlets, they are still seen as a product of the feminist movement. And rightly so. Without all the great strides that our foremothers made, there would be no Paris’ orLindsay’s or Britney’s- they paved the way for women to be free to express themselves however they pleased. So where and when did expressing ourselves become about getting the most attention? When did it become all about getting a rise (excuse the pun) out of men?

Pop culture today is rife with overt sexuality, but its all female sexuality. It’s about women being sexy and gorgeous. Look at music videos, magazines, ads, and what do you see- gorgeous sexy women. Even mothers in popular culture are represented as gorgeous and sexy all the time. Its down right disheartening. That dominant, in your face, flaunt it kind of sexuality is fine, but its not the only kind there is. It is however the only kind that gets noticed in the 21st century.  

Male sexuality is much less in your face and, I would argue, public expressions of male sexuality is for the benefit of women. By which I mean, you don’t see alpha males being butch and macho. You see perfectly toned, hairless young men in their primes with expressions of docility on their faces. The stare out from their ads as if to say, “tell me what you want me to do”. Women stare out from their ads empowered, tough, in control- worth it. We live in an age of women on top. At least when it comes to what’s acceptable in the public arena.

I’m not suggesting for a moment that any of this is wrong. It isn’t. Women should be encouraged to be free of any hang ups and issues in regards to sex, but I’m just wondering if this is all there is? Surely life is more complicated then popular culture would have us believe. Surely there are other forms of sexual expression then the ‘in your face’ version? Surely, it is still sexy for men to men, not well built boys? And, my biggest question, why do women do it? Do we really need to be wearing the shortest skirt and the strappiest top to be considered sexy? Do we need to flash our tits at guys just because they ask? If it floats your boat as a woman well then sure, go for it, but it doesn’t (or at least shouldn’t) mean that girls who don’t flash, the ones who like to dress appropriately for the weather, or who just like to be comfortable shouldn’t be considered sexy.

Popular culture is us. Altogether we make it up as we go along. We buy the magazines, watch the shows, listen to the music and so on; we’re the ones who accept and create ‘normal’. So why have we accepted a culture in which only one form of sexuality is in the spotlight. Exhibitionism is just a facet of female sexuality. Trawl through the porn sites and you quickly realize that men find just about anything sexy, but (outside of the porn industry) women aren’t encouraged to explore those aspects of sexiness.

In a way the overt female sexuality, now on sale at a store near you, is in itself another way of controlling femininity. It is less ok, in this day and age for a woman to be ‘soft’ then it is for her to be ‘ballsie’. Again, it isn’t anyone’s fault that it has become this way. It isn’t really an outright conspiracy to put women in their place. Its simply an unintended consequence of feminism. In gaining the right to express ourselves, we are left of the question, well, what do we want to express? Forty years ago we were burning our bras, now we are flashing them. Its still feminism right? Because its our choice. Maybe its just my imagination, maybe its just the popular culture I’m exposing myself too- it just seems to me that there isn’t a whole lot of choice about what we are expected to express. At least in terms of letting the world know that you a free woman with a healthy attitude to sex and how comfortable you are with yourself. In a way, the ‘girls gone wild’ are what you get when the popular girls grow up, and just like in school, so many of the other girls want to be just like them. Those that don’t want to be like the popular girls are the outsiders, the weirdos, the ones who were (are?) definitely not sexy. 

In today’s world, as an unintended consequence, women are defined by their place on the sexiness scale.Lindsay’s been in and out of rehab for the past few years, hey not to worry, she’s still sexy, right? Britney may be a hot mess but she can still sizzle in her music videos.  The message is that all is forgiven to the sexy hot young thing. You can get what you want if you are prepared to flaunt it. I have heard young women boasting about what freebies they could get thanks to the sheer power of their breasts. You can bet your bottom dollar that the feminist movement wasn’t aiming for that when they were busy fighting for our rights.

Originally Published on Rusty Lime 11th July 2008

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9 thoughts on “Unintended Consequences of Feminism Part 3- Girls Gone Wild

  1. This is really really good. I myself am on a quest to release myself as a 40 yr old woman from the grip of an over sexualised childhood/past/society! freeing myself opening my heart body to a truer sexual energy…is a little tough going still finding it difficult to relax and look into my partners eyes (which i think is a BIG problem and a result of the way we have been used and have used our sexuality…)
    BUT for the love of all that is I will succeed.. ;-))
    Thankyou x

  2. I think this premise is excellent. And I agree with you on both sides of your argument, about the empowerment and ”hairless” boy look. Really interesting sociologically, and from a semiotical point of view as well.

  3. Well, this article or rather this series of articles are opening our eyes on some of the realities about women. Men are getting in more and more troubles because women, but what we must look for is justice for not women or men alone bothaltogether.
    Plus I would like to know the name of the author of this articles ” unintended Consequences of feminism.” Thanks.

    • Hi Emmanuel,

      Thanks for your interest in the article. I am the author of these articles but I prefer to keep my name private at this point. And I agree that justice for both genders is important.

      • Hi Feary Godmother,
        Well, it is ok with me. I think it is good thing to keep your name private. I am currently writing a doctoral dissertation on violence by men as a response to their emasculation. As a rule I have to give quote and their authors otherwise , they’ll accuse me of pligiarism.
        By the way, are you writing other articles? Hope to read from you soon.

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