Anyway, Jezebel points out Carol Platt Liebau's argument that "girls are being led to believe they're in control when it comes to sexual relationships but they're actually living in a profoundly anti-feminist landscape where girls compete for attention on the basis of how much they are sexually willing to do for the boys."
Now this makes me nervous. I spend a lot of time harping on how women should learn and understand their bodies so that they can have gratifying sexual experiences, whether alone or in relationships. Liebau makes me question this argument. Could I have been wrong all along? Could I have been tricked into believing that I, as a woman, wield the sexual power, when in fact I am just feeding into a patriarchal society that I refused to acknowledge?
I'm not sure I'm willing or ready to buy into Liebau's argument. As a woman, as a human being, I have agency, and whether I decide to use that agency in a sexual manner or not, I am still making my own decision. I may be impacted by social norms, but for the most part I try to break out of the (chaste) box society puts women in. If Liebau is so concerned with little girls emulating older women, perhaps she should look no further than American history; sure, society is oversexed these days, but women are getting married much later in life, compared to the 14-16 range common in the Middle Ages. I also think it's interesting that she would resort to blaming the media for the sexualization of tweens, when just last week the Times published an article about the ineffectiveness of abstinence-only sex education, which is a governmental function, not a media one. Teens are having sex younger and getting pregnant more frequently. The media could have something to do with it, but it’s the government’s fault for funding ineffective programs. And most of these programs are anti-feminist. Debbie Nathan argues in The Nation that abstinence-only programs are targeted specifically for girls, intent to plant the notion that having sex before marriage is considered “deviant” societal behavior. This is so deeply embedded into the heads of girls that, even when they choose to get married and lose their virginity (though 88% of girls who make virginity pledges end up breaking them), they cannot disentangle the concepts of “good” and “bad” sex. There is still a negative connotation attached to sex that lurks over them, and it becomes a completely unenjoyable act, focused solely on pleasing their husband. If we could stop framing the abstinence debate and the (sex) objectification of girls in a patriarchal context, perhaps then women can break out of the “anti-feminist” Liebau speaks of, and when little girls dress like sluts, we wouldn’t think it was a bad thing because we wouldn’t even have use for the term “slut.” But that’s just my idea of utopia, I guess.