The purpose of our blog is to discuss topical issues, stories, and situations, as well as to share what we are up to and new ways for you to get involved. We are always searching for possible answers to the question: Why is a girl's worth culturally and historically relative?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sexual Standards and Stereotypes

This month, American audiences will be introduced to two movies that, on the surface, seem very different. One is Easy A, a modern-day version of The Scarlet Letter that follows a teenage girl who fakes losing her virginity. The other is The Virginity Hit, a gross-out comedy about friends who conspire to get their friend laid for the first time. What's interesting about these two movies, as one writer points out, is that they highlight the uneven standards about sex that exist between girls and boys.

The Virginity Hit is supposed to be funny, so it doesn’t even try to examine the emotions and consequences that come with losing your virginity. Instead, the characters go through a series of adventures and comic mishaps, much like a teenaged version of The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

Easy A, by contrast, is a cautionary tale full of lessons learned. When word gets around that the main character may not be a virgin, she is alternately shamed or objectified. Eventually she finds that her life now revolves around what she supposedly did, and she is devastated. (Sample line from the trailer: "I always thought losing my virginity would be more … special.")

These movies and others like them are reinforcing negative stereotypes about the first sexual experiences of boys and girls. For boys, losing their virginity becomes a quest, and they should be rewarded and congratulated for achieving their goal. Girls, on the other hand, are traumatized by sex and end up suffering dire consequences.

The question is whether these movies are simply mirroring the true experiences of teenagers, or if they are in fact influencing attitudes by presenting these gender dichotomies as fact. I don't really know for myself–I was a virgin throughout high school, and when I finally did start experimenting in college I had friends who offered me applause rather than guilt. I'm glad I was able to bypass this kind of drama, but I feel for any girl who has to endure shame and mockery for having sex–for doing the exact same things that boys do.

You can view the trailer for Easy A here, and the trailer for The Virginity Hit here (for your information, it’s pretty crude).

-Miriam Musco
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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