The End of Sex: Chapter 4, Learning to Play the Part (of Porn Star): The Sexualization of College Girls

by Catie on November 6, 2013 · 0 comments

by NeW summer intern Catie Verano, student at Hillsdale College

This week, the Online Book Club is discussing Chapter 4 from “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.”

Freitas discusses four categories of girls, labeled as:

  1. The Good Girl
  2. The Holier Than Thou Girl
  3. The Prude
  4. The Slut

Whatever reputation a girl has, there are downsides:

“No one wins with such categories. The Good Girl is happy about her status, yet she is stuck in it, too. She never gets to play the part of the Slut, even if she envies the Slut’s seeming freedom to do what she wants, because if the Good Girl slips up even one night, her reputation is tarnished” (76).

These labels are perpetuated by gossip even more so with the predominance of social media. Oftentimes, these labels become self-fulfilling prophecies as well. If a girl knows she is labeled as a slut, why not act like one?

These four categories of women have been influenced by the media in our culture. For example, Britney Spears’ outfit in her music video “Baby One More Time” made the ‘virgin whore’ popular. This has been a long-standing male fantasy, according to Freitas, in which the woman appears willing but innocent, as represented by her revealing version of the Catholic school girl uniform. Britney Spears is just one example of how much sex was a part of my generation’s culture growing up. We all know what sexy is; we can look like it, act like it, talk like it, and dance like it, but our emotional maturity does not match our sexual maturity. There is a dissonance between our internal and external reality.

“[Young men and women] have all the trappings of sexually experienced men and women; they might know how to be fantastic sexual performers and talkers, on the surface– adept at pretending. But their emotional maturity with respect to sex is another question altogether. They’ve been taught that both men and women are supposed to have ‘sex like a man,’ that is, to hook up, even if they haven’t hooked up themselves. They are also growing up to believe that all of this is normal. And that to act like porn stars is normal, too” (80).

We can see this blatant sexuality on campus. Theme parties are usually centered on placing the man in a god-like position (golf pro, executive, superhero) and the women as some form of prostitute, school girl, or maid, all of whom are meant to be sexy. “Even if the women throw the parties, their roles remain subservient ones, with the themes depending on porn scenarios that cater to men” (82). While most of the time men come up with the themes for the parties, the themes are still appealing to women because they can act and look sexy without a tarnished reputation. Add alcohol to the mix, and it’s the perfect environment for hooking up.

The party scene and the hookup culture are intimately tied. A lot of this behavior can be attributed to “the rise of  ‘raunch culture,’ which gets women to buy into and perform well for ‘guy culture'” (90).  Marketers have figured out a way to sell ‘girl power.’ Women are treated as objects, although it is spun by the media to make it seem it’s her independent choice (as if that makes it better). The media and our culture’s focus on sex contributes to the pressure young women and men feel to be a part of hookup culture.

Discussion Questions:

1) Do men dictate the rules for hooking up? Or do women hold just as much power?

2) How has the ‘raunch culture’ affected the millennial generation?

3) Is it truly a women’s choice to be free with her sexuality? Or is she a product of the ‘raunch culture’?

4) As a young women, do you feel objectified by the hookup culture?

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