Yesterday a 10-minute clip from Kendra Wilkinson's teenage sex video hit the ‘net (it's NSFW but you're on your own to Google it). And what I saw was infuriating to me.
I'm not angered because I have any problem with watching sex on tape - for the record, I watched the Pirates porn last week, and it was better than 75% of the mainstream movies I've seen this year. No joke. And normally these celeb sex tapes don't bother me either, but this one in particular pisses me off.
Kendra doesn't really want to be videotaped. She says so on quite a few occasions.
"Please don't do it," she says. "Please?"
"Kendra," he says, annoyed. "I'm barely zooming in. Just go."
"Can you not?"
"You'll like it. Trust me. Watch. Go."
Kendra seems resigned to her fate, and, almost instantaneously, she shifts characters, from a very young woman being pressured into a sexual situation she finds uncomfortable to a willing sexpot, grinding obligingly on the bed with a black panther blanket across it. (Jesus Christ.)
As her male companion puts the camera close-up on her vagina, she shuts her legs.
"What?" he whines. "Just do it. Just keep messing around."
She pushes him and the camera away several times after that, each time slipping instantly back into character as soon as he expresses annoyance.
He begins performing oral sex on her. She's not entirely comfortable with this. She wriggles around and clamps her legs close, against his head.
"Keep ‘em open. Keep ‘em open. Keep ‘em open. Open your legs. Open ‘em. Open ‘em."
They have sex. He has trouble staying hard. He's gross, really - a balding redhead in his late teens or early twenties with a pube-hair goatee, bad teeth and a too-large nose - pudgy and pale all over.
He comes inside her, even though she's obviously asked him not to. She makes a face and she rolls off the bed. He acts surprised and upset by her action. She tells him she doesn't like it when he does that. He mutters something about a blow job.
This isn't a sex tape, really. It's that thing we talk about that happens to our young women. That thing that we, as grown-ups, write about and research incessantly and condemn broadly, but don't remember so vividly. It's right here on video.
It reminds me to some extent of the Paris Hilton sex tape, but even more so here. It's that space where young women have discovered and perfected their sexuality and its value, but haven't yet figured out how it's empowering. They just know that it's something people want from them; it's something people expect from them. Something young men expect from them; something, perhaps, that young men haven't learned how to ask for politely. It's uncomfortable and new and everybody's learning, and what happens, more often than not, is that the male partner's desires come first and more forcefully, and the young woman is disrespected and disempowered and left with a sense that she's less valuable and less capable of demanding respect and control than her male counterpart - a sense than lingers into her twenties and beyond, even though she might not recognize it as such.
You should not be turned on by this. You should be pissed off.
This isn't rape - not even close. And Kendra's not even unhappy the whole time. But you can tell who's in charge; you can tell who's in control. It's made clear. Kendra's requests are completely ignored; she's totally disrespected here, naked and exposed.
So the next time some enterprising journalist wants to wax poetic on "what's happening to our daughters" - to cite studies and surveys and books upon books - maybe she could take ten minutes and watch the Kendra Wilkinson sex tape. What's happening to them is right here, right on video.
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