Consider how many times you've heard that "X" trend has turned "boy-girl relations into a cut-throat sexual race" over the decades; substitute "X" for "sexting," "crop tops," or "coed education," and you've got yourself a Newsweek cover story. This week, X = "pouty self portraits" — otherwise known as the selfie — and the pearl-clutcher is a teenager who thinks her peers only snap selfies to solicit approval from boys and social cred from bitches.
Olympia Nelson, a "year 11 schoolgirl," argues in the Sydney Modern Herald that all selfies are slutty:
But what kind of photos produce an epidemic of ''likes?'' Nothing with too much creativity but hip, titty and kiss. It's the true scourge of the selfie.
Why are we girls competing to be the Queen of Pouts? Why do we scour through photos of celebrities and all our ambitious friends to find out who is the new princess of prurient poses? Even demure girls are tempted to strike sexually suggestive poses. But they must be careful, not because parents are looking but because they might not score any ''likes'' and might then feel a failure, unworthy among their peers.
Teenagers crave validation, yes, and teenage girls are particularly susceptible to pressure to appear sexually attractive and available (but not too available) at all times. But it's depressing to hear a teenager blaming her classmates (and her cell's camera) instead of examining the external forces that cause so many women to associate male approval with self-worth.
Much of Nelson's op-ed is devoted to discussing how mean girls are to one another — her friends leave "calculating" comments "to get higher on the food chain" — without much thought as to who constructed the food chain, or how long that food chain has existed (long before Instagram).
Nelson does name-drop "the patriarchy," always a fun thing to blame, but she concludes her piece with "what we need is some good taste." No, what we need is to stop blaming girls for bringing judgment upon themselves.
Image via Glenn R. Specht-grs photo/Shutterstock.