linked up: because it’s finally Friday

While I add the final touches to my thoughts on Zombie Girl: The Movie and gear up for the Oscars this Sunday (again . . . go Bigelow and Mo’Nique!!), let’s recap some of the latest girl-related news items.

It seems like every where I turned this week, there was a new article related to girls, hooking-up, and casual sex. Rachel Simmons’s post is what set the whole thing off. She posted her thoughts on hook-up culture on her blog, in a piece titled “Is Hooking Up Good for Girls?” Simmons was inspired to write the piece after receiving countless emails and letters from girls as the relationship advice columnist for Teen Vogue. In these emails girls seek advice on how to handle their feelings within hook-up culture, noting that they follow the “rules” of hook-up culture, but often feel unfulfilled or broken-hearted. Many times these girls ask Simmons how they can make a boy fall in love with them or want to date them, after they’ve already hooked up several times. Moreover, many of the girls express fear of opening up to these same boys and sharing their desire to take the relationship in another direction. It’s this last bit that makes Simmons weary of hook-up culture – how freeing can it be for girls if they’re still afraid to voice their desires? Is it all right for girls to voice their sexual desires when hooking-up, but feel ashamed wanting love and/or wanting to be in a committed relationship?

Simmons expresses how complex hook-up culture can be for feminists, but takes the argument in a scary direction, almost romanticizing gender roles and traditional forms of courtship popular back in the 40s and 50s:

“Can I still be a feminist and say that I’m against this brand of sexual freedom? I fear feminism has been backed into a corner here. It’s become antifeminist to want a guy to buy you dinner and hold the door for you. Yet – picture me ducking behind bullet proof glass as I type this — wasn’t there something about that framework that made more space for a young woman’s feelings and needs?”

At the end of Simmons’ piece girls are left with these two options, a binary between courtship and hook-up culture – neither of which addresses the range of girls’ sexual desires and freedom.

Wednesday Jessica Grose from Slate weighed in on the debate with her article “The Shame Cycle.” Grose discusses a backlash against casual sex occurring in media and public discourses in the U.S., and she argues that females are “caught between the false liberation of the last decade and the fervent conservatism of the new one.” Grose contends that the late 90s and early 2000s gave us a girls-gone-wild version of (so-called) sexual empowerment, in which we saw Christina Aguilera’s Dirrrty side and Paris Hilton’s rise to fame, but that girls and women didn’t gain a whole lot. Grose further argues that this new decade is ushering in a conservative period, in which Taylor Swift dominates the charts and scoops up award after award (for an in-depth look at the gender politics surrounding Taylor Swift’s songs, videos, and persona – I recommend this piece by feministmusicgeek). Again we’re left with a binary.

My favorite two cents in this debate came from Kate Harding, who posted her thoughts, and respectfully argued with Simmons’ finer points, in an article on Salon titled “‘Hook-up culture’s’ bad rap” Harding argues that it is pointless to debate whether hook-up culture is inherently bad or good. Instead, Harding argues, we need to support girls’ sexual agency and help girls learn to voice their desires – whatever they may be:

“If we stopped telling girls and women how to be What Guys Want (But Would Totally Never Tell You Because Ew, Feelings Are For Girls) and started telling them that what they want matters, that every sexual and romantic partnership from a hook-up to a marriage can be fantastic if you both want it and miserable if one of you really doesn’t, then maybe the ones who want relationships wouldn’t get stuck waiting for guys who don’t to fall for them. And meanwhile, the ones who enjoy exploring their sexuality more casually would be free to do so without being slut-shamed, and the ones who don’t want guys at all wouldn’t be erased from the picture entirely.”

Harding’s piece is the only one to provide a spectrum of choices and options for girls. Girls can enjoy hook-up culture AND feel comfortable in wanting a relationship. Moreover, Harding’s model creates a space for queer girls, who’ve largely been left out of the discussion surrounding hook-ups and casual sex.

** Note: Simmons is great about wanting to dialogue with fellow ladies and feminists about this issue. In an effort to generate that dialogue she has linked several articles that counter her views on hook-up culture at the bottom of her post, in case you want to read more on this subject.

Moving on, there was other news this week that had very little to do with girls hooking-up.

All Girl Army, a Young Feminists Project, is looking for feminists bloggers between the ages of 10 and 25 who would want to contribute to the site. Bloggers would be expected to post a minimum of twice a month and participate in online discussions. For more information on this opportunity and the application process, check out AGA’s website here.

Jess Weiner tweeted about a girl-related project earlier this week. Step Up Women’s Network hosted a workshop titled “I Dream To . . .” in which girls with particular career aspirations were paired up with women from that profession. The workshop’s site complicates the notion of what girls can do and who they want to be when they grow up. I’m happy to say that these girls have their sights set high and are branching out into a wide array of fields and professions.

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~ by actyourage09 on March 5, 2010.

One Response to “linked up: because it’s finally Friday”

  1. That Harding quote is my favorite. I can’t imagine how it could be said better.

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