Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 09/29/2010

Easy A and Teenage Sexuality

Whether we were actually at the party where it went down or heard about it at school the Monday after, we’ve all witnessed it. Two people hook up. As they walk into school, the rumor spreads with their every step. You would think the two people, that engaged in the exact same act, would be treated similarly. And yet as the guy walks down the hall he is suddenly not just another teen boy in baggy jeans with a serious case of bed head. No, somewhow he has rippling muscles and locks flowing in the wind as he arrives on his noble steed. He gets off his horse, throws a football, chops some wood, sprays axe from head to toe and lets everybody bask in his hyper-masculinity. ”He scored” the townspeople high schoolers whisper to one another in reverence and approval.

And then there’s the girl. Her entrance into school doesn’t exactly belong in a fairy tale, or any literature intended for young readers. No, she might as well be wearing last night’s makeup smeared across her bedraggled face, 6-inch heels and a thong-revealing skirt, because that’s all anybody sees when they look at her.

Behold The Stud and The Slut – a double standard so ingrained into our society and personal lives it’s accepted as fact and the correct order of the universe. And while my description of such a phenomenon may have employed hyperbole a little too enthusaistically (I’m writing this as a physics study break cut me some slack), we all know that this actually happens. It was as I was watching Easy A this past weekend, and this exact scenario was played out on screen as the result of a nice virginal girl just trying to help out her gay best friend by helping him fake a hook up, that I realized just how true it is.

As I watched Easy A, I expected little else than another schooling in this unfortunate but admittedly obvious double standard. Girls get the short end of the stick when hooking up and people judge them harshly while guys only benefit. It sucks, and upsettingly, it’s often due to girls attacking other girls, imposing ridiculously high standards on each other while they hypocritically engage in the same activity.

But that’s a whole other story. The main thing I found myself thinking while watching Easy A was, “Why is our crazy ass society so simultaneously obsessed with and scared of sex?” America is essentially a puritan peddling pornography; it makes no sense, and yet these two ideologies co-exist, if not peacefully then certainly effectively.

Emma Stone as Olive

Emma Stone as Olive

In Easy A, Olive (the main character who is seen as an adulterous whore despite her actual virgin status) is shunned by her community – most notably female figures, her best friend and a hyper-religious enemy – and decides to teach them all a lesson by both embroidering an “A” on her clothing (corsets, for the most part) while helping out the virginal boys in her school by faking sex with them for money (because boys only benefit from hooking up, even with a whore, and shouldn’t she benefit, too?). But the thing is…would this scenario even be possible if we weren’t so intimidated by open sexuality?

The parents in this movie are a fantastic answer to this dilemma. They openly discuss sex with their daughter, even drawing on their own past experiences, and support Olive’s decision to try to exploit the label imposed on her by her community by dramatically living up to their standards, pointing out the flaws in their values. I think it’s amazing that these parents were portrayed as being open about the topic. Our fear of sex probably stems from a lot of places, but the fact that it’s something generally NEVER discussed with parents or in the household (aside from “The Talk”) is almost definitely a huge reason for that. Granted, as we walked out of the movie theatre, a few of my friends balked at this portrayal. “If my mom talked to me about sex, I’d die,” one said as the other enthusiastically agreed. And so would I…NOW. If I had been raised in an environment where sex was discussed openly, I probably wouldn’t feel as much shame about the whole topic. Also worth noting: the girl whose parents were open about sex remained a virgin, where I think most people would assume the opposite result. In fact, not fealing shame about something like sex definitely makes people feel more confident in their ability to make decisions about it and stay true to themselves.

Basically, Easy A outlines the difficult situation teens are put into today regarding their sexuality. We’re pulled in both directions: ashamed if we have and ashamed if we haven’t. But seriously, we need to get rid of this shame. Maybe the answer is marching through school in a black lacy corset with a red “A” embroidered on it. Maybe it’s not. But seriously, we’ve got to own it.

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  • Suzanne Duffy @ at 2:53 pm, September 29th, 2010

    Brilliant post! The double standard is ridiculous and it’s about time it was turned round. Even though I live in Britain, which is a more secular country than the USA women who have a few relationships are branded ‘sluts’ Women and men both enjoy sex and as long as they’re responsible, what’s the problem?

  • toongrrl @ at 7:20 pm, September 29th, 2010

    That movie sounds badassed. Should become a modern classic

  • Ryan @ at 8:43 pm, September 29th, 2010

    Female selectivity in sexual selection is ubiquitious throughout the animal kingdom.

    If a female has a large amount of sex partners it indicates that her standards are quite low. The source of the slut stigma upon females is biological in origin and cross cultural as well.

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 9:08 pm, September 29th, 2010

    The historian Diodorus Of Sicily, wrote about the Amazons of Libya around 100 BCE.

    The Amazons rejected marriage as subjugation. Every so often, they were granted a leave of absence during which they copulated with randomly selected males from nearby towns.

    There was a caveat however, only women who had killed a man in battle were allowed to participate in the festivities.

    Hmm kill Ryan, go on a boinking spree, what’s not to love.

  • A @ at 9:33 pm, September 29th, 2010

    What makes a female who has sex with a number of partners a slut and a male who does the same thing not one? That’s not nature; that’s a social standard that humans have developed and that must change.

  • Natalia @ at 11:50 pm, September 29th, 2010

    Honestly, I’ve never understood how two people who equally participated in something could be treated so differently. If you caught two people killing someone, you’d send them both to jail right? Why send one to jail and let the other go for no reason? It’s a very simple scenerio. Everyone would agree that justice should be fair. Yet, when it comes to gender roles, people really don’t see the damage they are causing.

  • selects @ at 7:05 am, September 30th, 2010

    @alex, hahahha, ily, too funny

    @ryan, and by valuable you mean in the kitchen, right? seriously. just give up. you’re arguing against feminism in a feminist blog. what the fuck are you trying to achieve

  • Steph L @ at 10:12 am, September 30th, 2010

    @ Ryan
    If there’s one thing I hate more than a chauvinist, it’s a chauvinist who uses bad science to back up his arguments. Yes, there are some species where this is true. There are also species where the “best” females have the most partners. And since humans are far enough removed from animals now that, even if we could tell which group we identify with biologically and which is social stigma, there are plenty of good things we do that are totally against biology.

    But still, at least here you’re refuting that men are better at science than women, so I suppose you should be applauded for that.

  • Ryan @ at 12:59 pm, September 30th, 2010

    @selects In what kitchen? Do you mean women staying home while weaning an infant or preparing nurturing sustainence such as meals for their family?

    No silly, women give men those choices now….don’t they? Besides women should work outside the home and children should be sent to an affordable government or corporate child care facility….right?

  • Alex Catgirl @ at 1:18 pm, September 30th, 2010

    Amazons are as mythical as the Spartans,meaning they are not, but they are legendary…..

    As opposed to stupid, bitter, easily replaceable little drones like “Ryan” who are dammed to spend their entire laughable existence alone working menial, soul-crushing jobs…. who are just pathetic.

    Why don’t all of you the universe a favour and DIAF.

  • Ryan @ at 1:20 pm, September 30th, 2010

    @steph l.

    Typically in larger life forms, mammals specifically, females are more choosy as to who they copulate with. Males, to the chromosomal level are the variable.

    Personally, if women trick themselves to believe that they play the same role in the process as males it ends up being better for me. I’m not complaining, I rather enjoy women that are “loose” “easy” or “sluts”.

    We have a 40% single woman birth rate in the U.S. anyway. It’s not like men should expect to commit to women in marriage anyway, esspecially taking the risk of getting emotionally close to children. Women own children everybody knows that. Men are just valued for the fun part….sex.

    Marriage in the U.S. is at a historic low. Men aren’t part of the matriarchal familly silly.

    Now….if women can just be independent and self supporting without men or government taking care of them while at tje dame time sharing custody of childtenwe will be equals. As it is women are unable to survive on their own without a man or government supporting them.

  • Georgia @ at 4:24 pm, September 30th, 2010

    where the f*** are you from ryan? women CAN and DO survive WITHOUT support from a man or government, i know plenty of said women.

    perhaps it is a combination of you believing that men are superior, your close mindedness and ignorance that results in you thinking that women can’t fend for themselves, but you’re wrong. wake up.

    yet you also seem to think that men are the “sad” ones (i’m not saying women are), but i think that that opinion stems from fear of women fighting for their rights (some of which men already have), and gaining equality (-that you clearly don’t believe in, don’t kid yourself.)

    now, stop desperately seeking attention on a feminist blog (the attention you lack in your life), and diverting nearly every blog post towards replies to yourself, and get the f*** out.

  • Katherine C. @ at 4:43 pm, September 30th, 2010

    I haven’t seen this movie yet, but it sounds fascinating! Nice, thought-out review.

  • Shanmin @ at 3:30 am, October 1st, 2010

    LOLRyan. It’s a troll, isn’t it? Let me be honest: I hate seeing people responding to him— we all know he’ll never “get it”, and arguments will get us nowhere… and it draws the comments off topic.

    Now. When I first saw the trailer, I was actually surprised that something so feminist would come out into to mainstream, and then I was sad for being surprised. The whole obsession/fear of sex just creeps me out— this movie looks brilliant. I’ll have to see it.

  • blakerivers @ at 3:01 am, October 2nd, 2010

    @The Author’s Question:
    “Why is our crazy ass society so simultaneously obsessed with and scared of sex?”

    It’s a matter of suppression. If you strongly work to suppress such powerful urges as sexuality, then the natural outcome will be an unhealthy explosion. It is like trying to dam up a strong river: you keep fighting to stop the flow but this only makes the cracks bigger.

    Blame puritanical thinking I guess. They taught that sexuality was something to be feared and excised. No wonder we ended up where we are.

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 9:33 am, October 2nd, 2010

    One chuavinist, many feminists. Hmm. , I never watched Easy A, I heard it was good but franly I don’t want to be watching a movie that paints my sexuality as “slutty.”

  • Heather Aurelia @ at 9:33 am, October 2nd, 2010

    oops-chauvinist. Sorry.

  • Alec A @ at 4:23 pm, October 2nd, 2010

    Julie you are so insightful! I’m actually going to go see this tonight so I’ll tell you what I think on monday!

  • Ryan @ at 7:18 pm, October 2nd, 2010

    Ryan=doo doo poo poo head.

    In formal debate, if you’re opponent has been reduced to name calling or ad hominems you know you have won the intellectual discourse.

  • Valerie B. @ at 7:40 pm, October 2nd, 2010

    I LOVE the part in Easy A, towards the end, when she looks directly into the webcam and says that your sexuality is nobody elses goddamn business but your own. Haha it was an excellent movie that held a feminist message (note: not everyone in teh movie is a feminist or has feminist beliefs. But that doesnt mean that its preaching antifeminism!).

  • Nyxie @ at 12:10 am, October 3rd, 2010

    Agree with all except this: I have very open and honest discussions about sex with my mom all the a time, with a bluntness that many of my friends can’t even manage with each other. That kind of open talk is very believable.

  • Quinc @ at 4:21 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    Off hand I wanted to ignore it as all previous movies about adolescent sexuality are so bad, stupid and sexist. But now it honestly sounds like some feminists have managed to infiltrate Hollywood. I would ask who, but I don’t want to blow their cover.

    @ Ryan, from what I’ve seen you rarely if ever actually listen to others. You’ve ignored all of the counter-examples and most counter-arguments thrown against you. Most of your arguments seem to just be reiterating MRA rhetoric and beliefs but without the necessary evidence. Actually, often your comments are rather irrelevant to the original post, as if you are just picking the most relevant piece of MRA rhetoric rather than actually reading the post.

    Because you listen to us even less than we listen to you, and your comment DO tend to derail discussions, you have lost all respect.

    Interesting fact to counter Ryan’s typical evolutionary argument: If you look at the two species closest to us, Chimpanzees and Bonobos each female mates with each male. Chimpanzees actually have gigantic testicles to make sure they have the most sperm in each female. Bonobos well, it’s mostly for fun it seems. IT interesting article I just found:

    http://www.primates.com/bonobos/bonobosexsoc.html

  • Merlin @ at 4:33 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    @ryan

    Steph_l is correct regarding evolutionary theory

    Anyway That particular piece of “science” would only apply to BREEDING and not fornication for fun. Even if such an instict for spite on a female having sex at will even existed it should be disregard, as we as a species are more than capable of acting in opposition to our insticts.

    In short, people who slag off girls who have sex should know better.

    AND GIRLS: Ryan is clearly a troll. Even if he isnt he’s clearly a collossal misogynist who also happens to be wrong on this issue so can we just call a moritorium on replies to his comments please?

    Seriously people, It really isnt worth arguing with him AT ALL

  • Fbomb blogging connection-iftekhar hannan « Gender, Race, and Class @ Pace and Beyond @ at 11:27 pm, October 3rd, 2010

    [...] Posted by iftekhar718bx Filed in Uncategorized Leave a Comment » [...]

  • Ang @ at 12:19 pm, October 12th, 2010

    The double standard is terrible – why can’t girls get some too? There is nothing wrong with a girl wanting to have sex

    However, here is some food for thought – there are so many – TOO MANY – girls that will sleep with a guy just to feel good about themselves. So, maybe- MAYBE the slut stigma helps to prevent girls from having sex for a guys approval – then again stangely enough, the “slut” can be enticing to the attention starved girl.

    I’m not sure if I really believe the stigma is a good thing – but I wish more girls would have sex because THEY WANTED TO, not because they felt the pressure of others to – but then again, if they did, they’d be labeled as sluts!

    It just goes round and round…how sad!

  • A. @ at 10:00 am, March 17th, 2011

    “We’re pulled in both directions: ashamed if we have and ashamed if we haven’t.”

    That’s just such a perfect way to put it. It epitomizes the conflict that surrounds me as a teenage girl. There are girls who are condemned for being sexually active, yet many girls are also belittled for being virginal. It’s quite a conundrum, and it sucks for everyone involved.

  • Jim @ at 11:33 pm, March 27th, 2011

    The slut stigma exists because women are pursued by men, therefore have more opportunities for sex. And the decision to have sex is ultimately up to the women; how many rape cases do you hear of women raping men(I imagine this would be hard to do considering a man has to get an erection.) Women make the decision on whether or not to have sex, that’s why it’s not looked upon as virtuous for a women to give it up to everyone. Guys on the other hand have to solicit women; women don’t go up to guys very often asking them out on the town. And since men know that women get a lot of offers they are turned on by the idea of being the one guy she gives it up to. Where as women are attracted to men that are in high demand by other women. Men want to think of their girl as this innocent little thing that only wants to give it up to just them, where as women are turned on by a guy who is able to sleep with lots of women. The man wants to be the one the women chooses, and the women wants to be the women who pries the bad boy away from all the other women because he only wants her. Each sex wants to be desired by the opposite sex, and men don’t desire women who sleep around because most feel once a slut always a slut, where as women will see a guy who sleeps with all kinds of women as a challenge; they want to be the one who is able to keep the one who always strays from straying because she is hotter than all the other women. It’s true in my experience. The women that I treated well, walked all over me and never called me again. The women that I was indifferent to, never called, and fucked their friends couldn’t get enough of me. I’ve found the most effective way to drive a women crazy is to date other women; the only way you get the women you really want is by playing her off other women. I know when I go out to the bar with my girl that when she sees the attention I get from the opposite sex when I walk in, she gets jealous and usually fucks me good later. But what she doesn’t realize is that I never get the same attention from other women when I’m not with her. Women are very competitive with each other and want what the other girl has.

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