I've Got Issues...And Peace


Boulder, Colorado,
October 22
Family, marital, and individual psychotherapist. Mother to four who no longer need my services but still enjoy my love as I do theirs. I specialize in stepfamily dynamics and difficult transitions. I try to write from the heart with a sense of vulnerability, humor and a frank look at myself. Art shown: "Four Pots" by Lindsey Leavell


Editor’s Pick
MARCH 3, 2009 8:20AM

Facebook: Home to Wanna Be Porn Stars

Rate: 123 Flag


(I don't get it...I really don't) 

I went to a professional conference.  They said I needed to get a Facebook account.  So I did.  I started getting “friends”.  Then my children added me as friends.  This was good.  The best thing about Facebook is the pictures loved ones and friends can exchange.  The birth of a baby, an anniversary celebrated, a vacation earned. 

Shortly, my children’s friends started adding me as friends.  I thought this a little odd.  I mean, why would they want their friends’ parents looking at their updates?  I mean…isn’t a little separation, a little unfamiliarity between generations a good thing?  I’m an open person.  Fine…they want me as a friend, they’ve got me as a friend.

I wish I wasn’t their friend.


Seriously!  I can’t take this anymore.  I don’t get it.  I don’t want to get it.  This “wanna be a slut look” starts in middle school and apparently continues well into the 20’s.  You know what I’m talking about. 

And these girls have HUNDREDS of pictures of themselves and others in these degrading poses.  Picture after picture of girls at parties, girls drinking, girls looking at the camera with the “pursed up lips” (this is so not a good look), girls grabbing other girl’s breasts, girls drinking out of beer bongs and…the V SIGN.

The V SIGN is everywhere.  Someone enlighten me about the V SIGN. 

Is this a generational thing or what?  I’m pretty sure I know what the V SIGN is, pretty sure, but WHY?  Is vulgar the new sexy?  Is crude and exhibitionist the new normal?  Is objectification the new feminism?

Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem are rolling over in their graves and they’re not even dead.

AND THE TONGUES.  What’s with the tongues?  Everywhere the tongues.  And the smiles.  These girls are perpetually ecstatic.  Pictures of special note are the ones where the girls are lap dancing for adolescent pimply-faced boys.  Or they are bumping and grinding up against them.  The boys look awkward but happy.  The girls look desperate.  Do they at least get paid for this?

My .02:  Leave the porn to the professionals.  You girls are way in over your heads.

I wonder about these girls and how they are going to feel about all these pictures that are now circulating the Internet for all eternity. 

How are they going to feel when they actually grow up and raise the bar of expectation for themselves?  When they realize that someday their daughter may ask them, “Mom, what were you doing in those pictures?  Gross Mom!”

It’s all disturbing but especially disturbing are the pictures of the pre-16 year olds.  We’re worried as we all should be with the economy and the drop of the stock market.  But what about the drop in expectations and core values?  Where are all the mothers who burned their bras in protest to the sexualization and objectification of women?

Are they not scratching their heads when they see their daughters burning their bras for the pure titillation value to attract the attention of young men?  Is this the only way they can rebel against parents who were part of free love, sex, drugs and rock and roll?

Call me a prude if you must. 

Mothers and Fathers:  Deprogram your sons and daughters.  Stop buying your 10-year-old daughter a padded bra (yes, Limited Express sells them).  Stop letting them see every reality show that normalizes lewd behavior.  Tell them they have a brain that is going to serve them much more in the long run than their breasts. 

And take their frigging computers and cell phones away from them until they can behave like a lady.

A what?

Look it up in the dictionary.  I hope it’s still there.


NOTE:  Parents and young men and women should be aware that it is standard protocol for employers to check out prospective employees by looking at their Facebook or MySpace accounts.  They find a way to get in.  Repuation Defender ( is a business that is very effective in getting unwanted pictures and content off the Internet once and for all.  However, anything that is considered "public record" cannot be removed.




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I don't get it either. Not just the exhibitionism and objectification, but the overfamiliarity between generations on Facebook. Thanks for posting this - it's been troubling me too.
I like your article very much. Pathetic & ridiculous, but I guess ppl have to go through their stages?
oh, oh, oh ... marytkelly ... don't even get me started ... don't even ...

this is a constant issue at our house ... the pictures ... OMG ... the tongue pictures ... and these are sober children ... imitators ... high school imitators ...

don't even get me started ....

gawd ...
I don't get it either.

I used to teach college freshmen. I was one of the youngest teachers, so at the time my students were a maximum of six to eight years younger than me. You'd think that makes us the same generation, but the internet was just picking up steam when I was in high school (I was a senior before I got an email account or got online) and no one had cell phones yet.

My students made me feel so old--not with their familarity with technology, but in the purposes they used it for. Don't they understand that those pictures will be around FOREVER? Don't they consider that someday, they might change their minds about what's a good idea to let someone take a picture of?

I got at least one personal-experience essay about a girl who was SOOOO embarrassed that her mom hauled out a childhood picture of the "I-dressed-myself-Mommy!" nature and showed it to her prom date. But this same girl had porn-star wannabe pictures all over her MySpace page. Ummm, no one's gonna refuse you a job because you put on a tutu and rainboots and no shirt when you were three. They might for acting like a ho on the internet when you're 19.
OK, you convinced me. I'm signing up!!!!!!!!

They look worn out? You got to be kidding! I suspect you're not saying what's really bothering you here :)

(And btw, people are the same now as they were 2,000 years ago or 5,000 years ago. It's just easier to see it now. Vulgar to me is throwing families out onto the street and everyone says that is OK. Talk about degrading people!)
Where are their parents, Mary? I'm amazed at the lack of parental supervision. Perhaps young women have finally achieved equality. Now they can be as classless and clueless as the drunk and stoned looking young men in these pictures, too.

How did these young women acquire their values? About 30 years ago, a University of Colorado professor, Morris Massey, did some research and concluded most of our values are instilled in us by age seven. Our value don't change until we experience a "signifcant emotional event." It could be anything from reading a book to losing a family member or a friend.

What happened to these young women? How would we feel if the women in these photos were our daughters?
It's the era of Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie, etc... The girls today (and this according to my close friend and 23-year old cousin) are more promiscuous than ever. They all actually believe that oral sex is far, far safer than intercourse and that by taking care of their boy friends (emphasis on the word boy), they can remain virtuous. It's a by product of the celibacy rage. RIGHT. Even the dreaded "other" entrance is an alternative to the "V" form of sex. I don't know the answers MTK. But I notice it like you. I'm glad I have a son. If I had a daughter today I'd have to become a registered hand gun carrier. My son has girls 2-3 years older than him blatantly flirting with him and a few have said some pretty crude things to him which has led to him saying, "daddy what is _____? I find my special way of telling him, and truthfully. I don't want him to end up posing for photos like this on Facebook in the not too distant future. But, try as I may, he might.
Rated for insight and relevance.
The only problem with your post, was that you neglected to give us any answers. You're a therapist! You have an obligation to explain this craziness! : )

I'm not a prude either, but I would think that this depersonalization of sex will eventually have some lasting negative effects on these young people.

Especially the girls. There is no question that the early formation of a woman's sexual identity has lasting effects on her self-image for life. I don't mean to sound PollyAnnish, it's just that as a man whose had intimate relationships with quite a few women, I'm familiar with certain patterns of socio/sexual dysfunction in women and it nearly always stems from a 'muddying' of sexual indentity in these age groups.

There's something not altogether 'clean fun' about this behavior is what I'm trying to say I guess.

Right now I'm sure they look at our concern and stifle a laugh and tell us not to be so serious. But I think it is.
What a shame. Don't even know where to begin. Worried about my granddaughters. Dumbing down and slutting down. Ick.
Hell, I'm 30 and I don't get it. It's really a plague. On the other hand - MAYBE, just maybe, it's a sign of some kind of openness in society that can be a very positive thing after this awkward in-between stage, where adults still marvel at its indecency, a removal of taboos. Maybe.
Did we all somehow become archaic when we weren't looking? How did one generation get to be so distant from the one before? I don't know. There has always been a gap, but never as wide as this one. I don't know who the role models are these days. Girls Gone Wild, I suppose.
We protect our children with car seats, bike helmets, safe playgrounds, metal detectors in schools and seatbelts, etc. but forget to teach them how to protect themselves from themselves.
What Michael Rodgers said, after what you said. And to think that both men and women of that age think this is "normal". The last thing I am is a prude, but the first thing I try to always be is a lady. Disturbing stuff here. Highly rated, Mary.
the problem i see , and i'm completely guilty of this oh, wow my ex boyfriend's new girlfriends pictures are HOT, so...i'm going to take HOTTER ones.

its always girl vs. girl. who has the better profile layout, who's showing the most skin...who's pictures have the better angle..blah blah. and its very tiring trying to keep up, so i find it better not to play that game at all...
I have a ten year-old I worry about constantly. I checked on her the other day and she was looking at some Romance IQ test on a girl's website. This was one of the preapproved places we let her go, for christ's sake.

I do have one strategy I will deploy stolen from a phys ed teacher/football coach with three GORGEOUS daughters.

This guy, when his girls were around 14 or 15, took them out on what he called their first date. He came to the door, gave them flowers, took them to dinner, got their chair, etc, etc, etc.

Then, when he drove them home, he sat with them in the car and essentially told them that they should expect to be treated that way, and if they were not, then the boy they were with really did not care about them.

Sounds like a reasonable way to pump up self esteem to me, such that they feel good about themselves and hopefully won't fall prey to throwing the cat around to be liked.

The other trick I have already deployed is to simply insist the kids wake me up when they come home. That way I do not have to stay up and they can't simply sneak by loaded and argue I was snoozing.

Parenting. They think we were born yesterday and don't know what it was like to be a teenager. Hell, I still feel and act like a fucking teenager.
My son had facebook and dropped it... deleted everything. Employers look that crap up... He'd like a job when he gets out of school.
I am very fortunate. My four daughters are so old they mostly post pictures of their babies, and so do most of their friends. So are most of my nieces and nephews.

I enjoy being friends with my daughters' old friends, some of which seemed to live at my house when they were young. At 63, I have yet to find a high school or college classmate on Facebook.

My daughters are also old enough to worry about what their infant daughters will be doing as teenagers and college students and are already ready books on the sexualization of little girls. I am thankful I am not raising my daughters in the 21st century.
Mary - Facebook and so many more web sites have truly brought our culture to a new & disturbing level. And your post points out many of those. Can we every go back to a time when intimacy and decorum where the standard?

Tom Wolfe touched on this in a brilliant 2001 essay called "Hooking Up," in which he described the depersonalization of sex among America's youth, traveling in packs and just mingling with other members of the pack. Sex is just sex and it doesn't matter much with whom it is performed. Now, members of the pack don't bother sneaking off but rather perform for the rest of the pack.

Makes one long for the good old days when a pilfered Playboy would keep a boy occupied and amazed for months on end.

I take some small satisfaction in knowing that while the world went mad, it didn't happen in my house. A liberal in matters outside my abode, I remain John Ashcroft on matters inside it. I routinely hacked computers and phones and fed info obtained there to other parents. I set up a spy cam. I chased punks away with a baseball bat. Fuck the pack. My house, my rules.

This of course involved my eldest daughter, who no longer resides here. She now visits and knows there are rules in this house that will be enforced. She has also separated herself from the pack and has nothing to do with crowds or parties.

The result of all this is that my younger daughter had a chance to go through high school without insane behavior in her house. I think she'd like a boyfriend, but usually doesn't mind staying home on Saturday night, or going out with a friend or two. She has learned there is no safety in the pack, that her internal guidance system is all she has to rely upon.
Great post, Mary. These photos just scream GIRLS GONE STUPID...what they are thinking (or not) is beyond me.
Nothing like making yourselves look like one giant Booty Call to make one Proud!!

I am sure when they see these pictures later on in their lives they will do the hold your head in shame thing.

Not only is it questionable that the word "lady" is still present in the dictionary, but also "dignity", "self-respect" and self-appreciation.

Somebody send them a Webster's ASAP.....before
they push the feminist movement back several MORE steps; consequently losing it's footing completely and falling down the staircase.
very good post, Mary. Your line "How are they going to feel when they actually grow up and raise the bar of expectation for themselves?" nails it.
The internet used to be all about anonimity. Now its anonimity in your face.
I have two sons, 13 and 21. They think most of the girls are "slutty". The boys talk about the girls this way. They tell me! And the dancing! The new trend is "grinding". Literally simulated sex with clothes on. In middle school. I don't get it. There is a lack of healthy shame here and long term effects remain to be seen.
Maybe this will end when women (and girls) are valued first and foremost for their brilliance as people rather than for how physically attractive they are. Seriously, teens like attention and society has evolved such that there is no surer way of getting attention than exploiting one's body (if you're female).

I suspect that the divorce rate and the resulting absentee dads has left a great number of girls clamoring for male attention. What better way to get a guy's attention than loudly broadcasting (by way of posing) that you can fill the space of any of the disposable two dimensional babes he has access to on the internet?

I'm reading The Beauty Myth right now. Don't get me started...
My step sister is like this. She looks like she's having a drunken orgasm in her profile picture.
Mary, I'm completely with you on this one. When I see little girls (and they still are little girls, no matter how much they want to protest they're not) dressing up in slutty clothing and prancing around in high heeled boots "just because Britney/Lindsey/Paris do it", I just want to puke. What happened to the time when women used to rail against the sexual objectification?

(I have to admit though, your line of "Leave the porn to the professionals. You girls are way in over your heads." made me snarf my coffee.)

It's stuff like this that makes me glad I had a boy. For now, at least. (I might have a different answer in about fifteen years. Feel free to ask me then.)
You seriously didn't know about these things? They've been going on for, well, since I was in college. Okay, so people couldn't post those pictures on Facebook like they can now. But those poses? Been around since I was a freshman all the way back in 1986.
Oh, and as for burning bras?

Nowadays, they just don't wear one. =)
Nora: Yes, the exhibitionism and objectification is bad enough. But that they don't care that I am seeing this...I still don't get it.

Tasha: Perhaps this is a stage, but what a stage. And the problem with this stage is that it is being immortalized on the Internet. Difficult to take it back. Many of these young women are under 18--might I suggest a little parental intervention?

irritated: What's a mother to do? I don't envy those of you who have girls at these prime ages who are exposed (or exposing themselves) on a daily basis.

Leandra: I loved hearing from you and your perspective as a teacher. The story you told is classic. I think there are major blind spots here that unfortunately aren't blind for the rest of the world.

Harry: Thanks to your comment, I changed the word from "worn out" to "desperate" which more accurately reflected what I was trying to say. Vulgar comes in all kinds of forms doesn't it. And you're right...throwing people out on the streets is way beyond vulgar.

Aaron: My new word for the day! Thank you.

OEsheepdog: I think part of the problem is the need for many parents to be peers with their children. They can't stand the thought that their children won't like them. My philosophy when my children were teenagers was that if they hated me, I was doing my job! I do think that parents of children under the age of 18 should be on top of their kid's internet involvement, for a multitude of reasons.

Kind of Blue: You brought up some great points. My son has a friend who contact herpes through oral sex. He will suffer with this for the rest of his life as well as have to tell any future partners about this.

new blog: I thank you for being so clear and specific about the whole V-sign thing. Confirmed my fears and more...I also appreciate your honesty. It is good to hear a male perspective and one who respects true eroticism. Thanks for your comment.

Roy: Yes, you would think as a therapist I might have the answer to this. I have a few theories, some obvious like the correlation between this behavior and all the MTV shows, Real World, etc. etc. that normalize this kind of behavior. Perhaps many of these young women had parents who were strong feminists and its a natural rebellion. I think I will defer to others like Tom Wolfe (thank you jimmymac) who have written more extensively about this. I also agree with you that this "phase" will have far more repercussions than say, the hula hoop phase.

Lea Lane: Yes, the further dumbing down of America. Great.

david: Uh, yeah, maybe...I'm just glad you, as a 30 year old male, don't get it. That's good.

Michael: This was brilliant..."but forget to teach them how to protect themselves from themselves." Parenting doesn't stop at 8 or 9...on the contrary, studies show that if a parent ever chooses to be a stay at home parent, it should be during the adolescent years. This always made sense to me.

cartouche: Here's to being a lady. Now how to pass this on to younger women.

Anna: You go girl!

Geoff: I love the story about your friend! HOORAY FOR YOUR FRIEND. He needs to be father of the year. It also illustrates the need for father/daughter relationships. Studies show that girls who have close relationships with their fathers delay sex, are not as promiscuous and don't drink or drug so much. Power to the fathers!

Middleaged: Kids don't realize that employers check on Facebook and Myspace. Many a job has been lost because of this.

Mary: I agree! My kids were just on the cusp of this stuff. I'm breathing a sigh of relief...but I have a 15 year old beautiful step-daughter and I do worry about her.

George: Maybe when these kids are a little older, they will do a 180 and make decorum a mainstay in their lives. We can only hope.

jimmymac: Another FATHER OF THE YEAR! These kids may not say it, but I will...YOU ROCK. Boundaries do connect and your story about your eldest daughter illustrates this. Your children are most fortunate to have you as father.

lori: Thanks for your great comments. This does feel like it has set back feminism decades. I'd love to hear Steinem or Friedan have spoken publicly about this.

Tim: Thanks for your comment. The word "anonymity" may become an obsolete one.
I strongly suspect the young people are modeling what they have been exposed to. In our teen years, we didn't have 12 trillion gigabytes of free porn sitting on our desks. They do. Check out any porn site and see the requirement to enter. "I certify that I'm at least 18." Click. Your in.
Knew my daughter had a MySpace; recently found out she has a Facebook page as well. No pics remotely like this on her sites, but some of her friends are getting edgy. Over the past (bewildering, traumatic) year with our son, I learned the hard way that the kids are making drug connections over these sites as well. I understand HOW to use all of this technology, but I'm still asking, Why are they doing this? And how did we get here? Thanks for a thoughtful post. Rated.
MB: In middle school. Isn't that sad. The lost childhoods. Childhoods that can never be recovered. That is the real tragedy. I remember putting off adolescence for as long as possible. I knew it was my last chance at childhood and playing in the woods. There was plenty of time for boys and such later. You're right about long term effects remaining to be seen. Your boys are lucky to have you as mother.

rbomb: Ah, The Beauty Myth...excellent. I think there are many reasons for this phenomenon, some of which is a lack of relationship with fathers. But for many, it's simply a lack of boundaries and parents being afraid to set down the rules. They need to get in touch with Geoff, his friend and jimmymac!

Jess: Ugh...time for big step-sister to step in!

wskrz: Sorry about the coffee incident :) And you're can put on the makeup, the clothes and they are still little girls. I think the greatest service a parent can give their children is to protect their childhoods for as long as possible. I'll check in with you in 15 years, but it's commonly said that boys are "easier" than girls. Having 2 of each, I'm inclined to agree with this.

Tony: Hey, you're not that much younger than me but no, I don't remember anybody posing like this. And I think that even if they did, the whole world didn't see them and that makes a big difference at a societal level. As for not wearing bras nowadays, I respectfully disagree. Victoria Secret is making a killing selling padded bras and breast enhancement bras, not to mention the ridiculous amount of plastic surgery teenage girls are undergoing. Those plastic surgeons should have their medical licenses taken away.
Amen, you are preaching to the choir and singing my song. I keep wondering why??!! They aren't getting paid and is this all they think they have to offer, just T&A?
It's just bad parenting, plain and simple. When those of us now in our 20's have teenagers, we'll be more aware because we grew up with this stuff and we'll know how to look out for it.

Spoiled middle class/affluent kids have parents who wear blinders. Mom and Dad put the computers in the kids' rooms, give them t.v.'s, clothes, money, cell phones, cars and way too much freedom--and then they turn around declare outrage when the evidence of alarming behavior surfaces.

More parents need to raise their kids in the church and the public schools; unplug the cable, supervise internet time and refrain from all the damn spoiling. All that disgusting clothing in those pictures was bought with mom and dad's money (and transported from the store in the car that mom or dad purchased. Same goes for the cameras used to take the pictures and the computers used to post them online). These girls aren't spending their grocery store paychecks on this crap. I would even bet that few posing even have/had high school jobs. And it comes as no shocker to me that just about all those girls in the pictures were white and apparently hail from Mary Kelly's upper middle class (if not outright affluent) area.
I have a friend that almost ALWAYS poses with the pursed lips or the tongue thing. It's both terrible and comical. She's in her thirties now, but still seems to think this sort of posing is a-okay. She has no idea that the rest of her friends sort of laugh at her for it.

The problem is that girls go through these stages on the way to becoming who they are going to be. They experiment with sexuality. They see this pursed lip stuff and tongue stuff as a funny joke or a way to look uber-sexy. Much of it really is, pardon the pun, tongue in cheek, but some of it's not.

Thanks to technology and for some of them, to the consumer culture we live in, the pictures will be out there forever and some of my friends are still doing this stuff in their thirties. Sometimes, the woman never gets past seeing herself as a commodity. This same friend once told me that she thinks that pornography affects the way we all have sex. And she didn't get it when I said, "Not if everyone's doing it right." (Because if you're really having sex and committed to the whole experience, well, my guess is we all look kind of goofy, not porntastic.) (Except maybe the Jolie-Pitts.)

So, some of it's just to be funny, but a lot of it is perceived as actually sexy. It's just too bad that experimentation, which is completely healthy, is now exposed to the ENTIRE WORLD, potentially for eternity.

This is why I don't have an account at Facebook. Well, that and I'm avoiding people from high school.
I experience girls at my high school (where I work) being inappropriate. The major issue I have is somewhere along the lines, society has condoned this type of lewd behavior. I remember when Luke and the 2 Live Crew were banned for their lewd and obscene videos. When Nelly (I think it was him) had a video with someone sliding a credit card between a woman's butt cheeks, I thought I'd die. What have we allowed to transpire in this nation?

I also believe for many of the young girls in my school, their moms and grandmothers are young and still trying to remain youthful. Some of them dress the same or worse. I have kids coming into high school with 'tramp stamps' (tattoos in places you wouldn't want some dirty guys looking or touching). When you have this type of behavior happening at home with mom watching, anything is bound to happen.

I think society needs to get back to what's the correct thing/way to behave in every situation. I don't think many of these kids realize that a potential employer/college may be watching and taking notes. Some of the kids may realize this and don't realize how damaging this can be to their future.

I think the bottom line is the village needs to reclaim its children!
Spy cams? Hacking into computers and sharing with other parents? And these practices ROCK? Please!!!

The Facebook/Porn revolution has taught kids they have nothing of themselves that is not up for public inspection. And parental spycams and computer hacking only confirm the same message. If you turn your home into the Panopticon, you are acclimating the citizens of tomorrow to Bush/Cheney methods of government surveillance. While you are wondering why your kids have such contempt for boundary maintenance, otherwise known as modesty, you might ask yourselves how you came to have such contempt for boundary maintenance, otherwise known as privacy.
As the mother of a 5 yo girl, I'm living in fear of this stage. Popular culture is absolutely toxic. Unless I go to the swim shop, I can't get a bathing suit for her that doesn't have a v-neck. Excuse me? If she had breasts, I'd be covering them up, not revealing them to the poolside perv. The disney channel is banned at my house because so many of the shows are about dating relationships instead of about trying to win the science fair and score a goal on the soccer team. Rated because I think the pornification of America is another way for companies to sell products and control women.
Steve: Besides the lack of parental involvement, you are wise to point out the power of the Internet. This stuff is so available its taking everything down notches and notches.

Leonde: I would like to ask them if this is all they think they have to offer? Still waiting for my own children to weigh in on this issue. They are ironically becoming more conservative the older they get.

Edgar: I couldn't agree with you more on everything you said. Attitude reflects leadership. Actually the pictures I shared are from places all over the country, not just very white, somewhat affluent Boulder, CO.

odette: Loved the Jolie-Pitts reference. I'm all for experimentation and exploration...but wisdom and discretion wouldn't be a bad idea.
Mary, the pic of the girls in shorts with ass-writing made me think of what my roommate my first year in grad school said of such shorts (we were both 23 and living in a dorm with a bunch of 18-year-old hooker-wannabes):

"That's how you tell they're hos. A lady lets her ass advertise itself!"

Truer words were never spoken.
And Steve makes a good point. Internet porn is a terrible thing for society. The solution is easy: don't put the p.c. in the kids' room. It needs to be out in the open, in the family's main room--or better yet keep it out of the house and in the public library.

The movie "Superbad" sums it up perfectly: kids grow up these days completely fluent in the world of porn before they even know how to talk to members of the opposite sex.
Olga: I love your line, "the village needs to reclaim its children!". Hey, my children were no saints but they also weren't porn wannabees. I sent my children to Cotillions when they were 13. Besides the manners and ways of etiquette we taught then when they were quite young (when you meet an adult, look them in the eyes and shake their hands), Cotillions took it a step further and taught them further ways in the ways of being polite. My kids laugh about this but look back on it fondly.

libertarius: I get what you are saying and I agree. I still think that jimmymac ROCKS because he is a father who cares and is involved, and according to his story, it's working! But, no, parents should just not blindly invade their child's privacy unless the child has given them good cause to. It's a tricky line we parents walk when our children are teenagers. Its' their job to rebel and experiment, and it's our job to try to keep them alive. Not for the faint of heart.

Bella99: Perhaps by the time your daughter becomes a teenage, the pendulum will have swung the other way and kids will rebel in different ways. It will be at the miminum, interesting to watch.
Mary, just the thought of this is very upsetting to me. My daughters are 7 and 5 and I am slightly terrified of what a few years may bring.

Girls & teens (& adult women, too) need to know and believe that they are more than a sex prop for a man.

So, as parents, what do we do? I am really asking that question – both to you and everyone else on this board…
Boys are doing this, too. I have been shocked by some of the things I've seen, too. I have befriended and been befriended by my son and his friends (young men I knew from Scouting days, not strangers) on MySpace. I even had a talk with my then-21-year-old about some of this. (And I think I have a pretty high threshold for picking issues with my grownup children.)

I have also seen my niece (18-21 year) doing the drunken tongue thing. I haven't noticed the V sign until you pointed it out. In my day it meant "peace"; now it means, what, the other "piece"? Not sure on that one.

I don't believe there is any difference in kids today, but they have an all new arsenal of weaponry to act out their immaturity. Most of it is harmless fun, but I don't think you should be shy about speaking with kids you know who are behaving inappropriately. Schools and prospective employers are looking at Facebook and MySpace, too.
Blaming the parents absolves us of larger community responsibilities on these issue. Its not really the parent's fault, because much if not most of this activity happens on college campuses. I will blame the summer-camp mentality of most colleges, which entices students to apply based on "social life" and all but promotes getting wasted, long before I blame any parents for not snooping on their kids computers.

But its not "the media" or the internet or Paris Hilton's fault either. Those are products that are consumed because of a demand that already exists. I think they are less role models than products of an already oversexed culture.

So why do teens do this? Simple. They don't have enough real responsibilities. Youths between the ages of 15-25 enter a period in which our society forces entitlements upon them. They are not asked to give much to their community, and those expectations we do have for them are almost exclusively based upon meeting college admissions standards. In other words, the only real responsibility they have is to put on a show of academic effort (but grades are too thin a standard to hold people to anyways)

Once they get to college they are met with the lowest expectations that perhaps any organism on the planet ever has been subjected to. Schools make far more of an effort to get students interested in drinking than in doing anything substantive. Again, its not about studying, its about taking charge of your life and beginning a career you are excited about.

We have not only extended childhood beyond its natural bounds, we have made childhood an infantilizing and boring experience. Thus, they make up their own fun, get drunk, get naked, get cameras. The college frat lifestyle of wasteful excess: this is about the most exciting thing that the mainstream path offers to young people. It certainly doesn't offer them any chance to be adults. It lasts until they have to pay their own rent.

Kids are smarter than you give them credit for. If they are empowered to get involved in the workforce and be treated with the expectations of adults at an earlier age, they won't act like this.
I'm 24, and I get it. (But You won't find any pics of me on facebook doing those things- although there are a couple of me taking jello shots- shhh- and the ones I'm drunk in, you can't tell I'm drunk, I just look really, really happy. The problem is people "tag" you and you might not know the y"tag" you, so you if you were at a party drunk, and someone had a camera, you could end up on facebook and not even know it.) They think they look really sexy. I don't know why, they just do. It's just what the party crowd does now. And there has always *always* been a party crowd. There is nothing new under the sun.

But I will tell you a story. I'm in grad school and it's a really small program, like 30 students, and we're all in the same classes together. Most of us are at least a couple of years past our undergrads, had families, decided to go back to school. But there are a couple of girls fresh out of college. So, we all added each other as friends on facebook. As a joke, one of the (disgusting, perverted) guys in the class went on one of these girl's facebook accounts and printed off a picture of her. She was taking a body shot off of another girl's crotch. He printed it off and passed it around class. Totally humiliated her. It was funny.
It is no surprise. Porn is main stream. Watch an hour of MTV or VH1. It's not about music, it is about hooking up. The Girls Next Door is about the fun of living as a playmate in a mansion. And this generation have gotten the message and it is reflected in their Myspace and Facebook pages.
Leandra: 23 and living in a dorm with 18 year old hooker wannabees? This sounds like a nightmare!

Edgar: This gets into the laptop that I think of it...appropriately named. And you are again sadly correct: kids are more fluent in porn than they are in relationship skills. This can't be good.

Denise: My biggest advice is to not be afraid to be the parent and set the boundaries. Hand in hand with that is, build an honest and authentic relationship with your children. Listen to them. Be available. Be present. Same with dad. Read Justin's comment below. I think he is absolutely spot on. Seriously, I want him to make a separate post out of his comment. You're already aware, you're not naive. This iwll serve your daughters well.

Rich: You said, "I don't believe there is any difference in kids today, but they have an all new arsenal of weaponry to act out their immaturity." I agree to a certain extent. It's just that it seems that they are in this "phase" for 8-10 years. This can't be good.

Justin: As I said to Denise in my comment above, your comment is spot on/brilliant. Your comment should be its own separate post so wise it is. I do think its a combination of a lack of parental involvement, movies/TV/media, the emphasis on the"social life" and the lack of responsibility. That is huge. All these kids may be in for a rude awakening as their parents lose jobs, status and the ability to enable the lifestyle. Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful comment. And I are smarter than this. Let's start treating them that way.

Holly: The "tagging" feature is what kids need to be aware of. They think that only their friends are seeing these pictures. As evidenced by me, this is not the case. Good to hear from a 24 year old.

MTodd: Yup...definitely part of it.
For the love of God you people need to calm down. Innane statements about 'lost childhoods.' People like Alverson making pretentious comments like 'it comes as no shocker to me that just about all those girls in the pictures were white and apparently hail from Mary Kelly's upper middle class (if not outright affluent) area'

Mr Alverson - If you were the least bit exposed to any diverse urban area you would realise that such behaviour transcends classification. If the young women might be advised to restrain some of their exhibitionist tendencies, perhaps some people here could show some restraint in their compulsion to make sweeping sociological judgments.

I am well appalled how trans-generational facebook-friending has become a norm -- I am in the middle in my mid-early thirties, but my mother and sisters as well as my niece have 'friended' me. Not a huge deal, although it does make me skittish about what I may post now.

Nonetheless, all this tsk-tsking is a bit much. You remind me off the floral church ladies who used to whisper amongst themselves about who was behaving exactly properly in church (a neverminding the fact that they themselves were jabbering to each other).
Hell, I'm 24 and I don't understand. This is just disgusting to me. A few young "ladies" in my friends network post these pics or just give equally lewd status updates: "XXX is licking her boy's cum off her cheeks."

Ugh. Nasty. What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish with this?
Those wild, swinging youngsters of the 70's and 80's spawned, and their kids have grown up with VCRs, illegal cable, adult's "secret" porn stashes, and a healthier (IMO, mentally if not so much physically) attitude to sex and same-sex relations. See also, emo.
As a person I find it fascinating, as a mother it makes me feel like a dung beetle trying to build a sphinx. Congrats on raising down-to-earth daughters.
It's because porn is so easily available.

When I was in middle school, I remember one episode of looking at my best friend's older brother's Playboy magazine. That was it. Not that we wouldn't have looked at more if we'd found it, but that's all there was. One magazine.

Kids have been lewd and inappropriate as long as there have been kids. Girls have worn too-short skirts and too-low shirts as long as they've had the chance to do so.

The difference now is the permanence of it. My seventh grade instamatic camera meant that taking pictures cost money... riding my bike to the drugstore to get the film developed, and if anyone had taken any really disgusting pictures, the store would have called your parents or just not given the pictures back. AND the kid in question would have had to stand there at the photo counter and pay for them.

Fast forward to today, where my third grader, who has never watched a Hannah Montana show, knows from school that Miley Cyrus had a boob job and didn't tell her parents. Whether or not it's true doesn't change the fact that third graders are talking about this.

I'm dreading middle school. I really am.
I knew this would make EP!! But I guess I was unclear in my previous comment.

This posting and all these people on here lambasting these girls are being completely hypocritical. You yourself don't treat yourself as an (money, sex, job) object? You don't treat your children as objects? This whole freaking society treats people like objects!! Who are you kidding? You are all to blame.

This I can tell you: show me someone who's "angry" about this and I'll show you someone who's committing the exact same crime. I know faux outrage is hip because it's easy but that doesn't make it any less phoney. And all these same, tired comments can be cut and pasted right out of the sixties.
Hey Pill Bug, this is a middle class and higher phenomenon: not necessarily the behavior itself, but the photos and facebook pages. One has to have free and easy unsupervised access to a personal computer, a digital camera, too much free time and too few responsibilities to create these facebook 'albums' for the world to see.
libertarious...really insightful comments as usual.

Hollycomesalive...I guess I don't agree that the situation you describe is so "funny."

And HarryHomeless you have a valid point. Faux outrage can be tiring. Especially when its as if to say this generation is different/wrong/disgusting when in fact they just have tools to do things that previous generations didn't. and i think a lot of this stuff is meant as a joke or to make them popular. How it is used against them later by employers, grad school classmates et al might not be such a joke though...
As Anna Fletch says:
"its always girl vs. girl"
That's what's most disturbing about this, I think. Despite all the sex lib talk of the sixties it all still seems to be directed at men's pleasure.
Ah, but when was experimentation ever about having good sense? Experimentation must be about making mistakes, too.

This post leads into another one, one about privacy. I think privacy, the idea of privacy is changing drastically. These kids don't really have privacy in the same way that we do. They don't. One drunken party, a "friend" with a camera, and they're on the Internet, doing something stupid. Which one among us hasn't made the mistake of drinking too much, once or twice. Or, just hasn't made a mistake, period?

We disapprove of these pictures, and that's understandable. But, we live in a consumer culture, and women, despite Ben Sen's post about male bashing, are not equal. They are not. They are still seen in terms of their sexuality, in terms of their selling points, so to speak. It's much more disturbing to me to see that play out in those pictures. The sex, that's NORMAL. The experimentation, should be done on the way to adulthood for a good, well-rounded understanding of sexuality. The posting of pictures in a place where they will never go away, combined with the strong evidence that our culture STILL views/teaches women that their sexiness is all that matters, difficult to see.
I am Facebook friends with a 21-year-old cousin, but I never look at his profile, because yeah. It's just too disturbing.

We've become the cranky generation that doesn't get Those Kids Today, you know...
And Harry: I don't think it needs to be either\or. I do think we ought to be ashamed about homeless people being chased with kicks and threats out into subway stations and into the freezing cold, but personally I am also deeply worried about the treatment of women in society. It's a big problem, too, and within groups of socially disadvantaged people, women tend to do worse than men.
1. Its not about porn . Its about regular sexual activity independent of what comes off your TV or computer. These kids aren't imitating porn stars, they're imitating their older siblings or classmates.

3. Its not "just like stuff in the 60's." This is more public, and it is not about liberation or feminism. It is about acceding to the demands of a chauvanist party culture that begins in high school, reaches a sort of Mecca in college, and continues for years after.

4. I stand by what I said. Give these people some responsibility. Ask and ye shall receive. If we actually expected more from them, then they would rise to the occasion. All we expect is that they get in to college, and all college expects is that their parents pay tons of money while their kids are given a drug-and-alcohol fueled playground.
Girls are terrible!
2. I apparently never learned how to make numerical lists in college, due to this party culture....
My mind is kind of boggled by this, and NOT in the same way as you and most of the people who commented.

Who are these girls whose Facebooks you're looking at? I go to a big college, I love to party, I have friends who go out 4 or 5 nights a week, and I've NEVER seen girls give the V-sign or pretend to be giving a blowjob for a picture. I think that you've just stumbled on a social circle of girls with serious problems, but that in NO way gives you the right to generalize about my generation. It's not even CLOSE to being a representative symptom of what's wrong with my generation; we may have our problems, but this one is NOT one of them.
"Its not "just like stuff in the 60's." This is more public, and it is not about liberation or feminism. It is about acceding to the demands of a chauvanist party culture that begins in high school, reaches a sort of Mecca in college, and continues for years after."

This comment says it well. If it were about really being liberated, that would be fine. But it's about conforming to what's expected, esp for girls/women, and for the pleasure mostly of others. That's not freeing. I also don't get that things are really set up for the girls/women to have pleasure - seems oriented towards the boys/men on that side.

I can't imagine what's going to happen when all these kids start job hunting. It's well known employers look up this stuff. Maybe it will be so common it won't matter. or maybe the recession will be long past and employers will be happy to hire anybody. But then again, maybe not.

Actions have consequences. But many people don't learn that until well past age 25, or 30, or....
My head spins around this subject as well. I teach college age kids in a vocational program (culinary arts) that requires everyone to wear a specific uniform. You would be surprised at the lengths to which some young women go to try to "sexy up" their uniforms; uniforms that are designed to keep them safe from the dangers of the kitchen like fire and sharp knives. It would make me laugh if it weren't so sad.
oh lord i know im just feeding the machine with this comment but why the hell not, im feeling fiesty today.
1. Its prostitot, these are young girls not sorority girls.. theres a huge difference..
2. Face book is the devil, and only used by drama queens and people who feel the need to be looked at and brag about their lives to their so called friends. If they were really your friends dont you think they would know what was going on in your life with out having to see whats new on your profile. seriously people...

now about the girls. I agree, parents are too blame, there are too many busy parents out there that dont monitor what their kids do.. and they keep starting younger and younger. Im not eve gonna go on my Hannah Montana rant.
now before you go calling me a hipocrite.. guess what guys Im 28 years old. I dont let my girls out of the hosue with their asses hanging out and for that matter I dont go out of the house with my ass hanging out. There is nothing sexy about grinding your girlfriends, and im not just saying this bc i have no rhythm and cant do it.. its just not sexy. Most guys I know pretend to think it looks sexy but really just know it looks lame and kinda out of date.. either that or im hanging out with more mature guys lately.
either way.. pull girls next door, girls gone wild, and every other I wanna be a porn star type show and for christ sake let little girls be little girls!
thank god for strawberry short cake!

It was "so funny" because she was so embarrassed- and for good reason. You'd have to know her. She's a sweet girl, but her and another one like her always dress inappropriately to class. Boobs hanging out all over the place, spandex pants very obviously without any underwear...We'll have a test that's super hard, and they whine to the professors as if the professors care. This is grad school. You need to at least try and act like an adult. Put your boobies in your shirt where they belong, if you don't like a test grade, suck it up- the professors don't give a damn and take all of your hoochie mama pictures off of facebook. There's nothing wrong with going out and partying, but there's 1) a time and a place for it and 2) don't parade it all over the freaking interwebz. That's going to bite you in the ass. They just dont' get that.
I know there will always be adults saying some version of “kids today” but some things really are different.

Back when I was in college (waaay back in the early 90’s), people that didn’t do the work actually flunked out. Whereas now, I have a cousin who came home last semester with 2 F’s and he is still welcomed back at his university. It’s such a business. They’ll just keep taking your money, no matter what. This isn’t his first bad semester - what do you have to do to get kicked out? (My cousin is actually a really sweet kid, he just isn’t doing what needs doing academically.)

So colleges are also perpetuating the extended adolescence by not failing out people who aren’t cutting it, and even that level of responsibility has been lowered.

I know I sound like a cranky old person! Creak!
My take is this: the way to understand the sexuality of the modern adolescent girl is to understand its rapidly increasing similarity to the sexuality of an adolescent boy. Since the invention of the Pill, the advent of feminism, widespread ideas about freedom and self-fulfillment for women, the evaporation of the religious sphere and the proliferation of sex education and pornography, a modern girl's sense of her sexual self is radically different from girls of previous generations. There is no longer the spectre of unwanted pregnancy. The role models and the rules are expanded and changed: from pure and withholding to exploratory and bold. Girls, like boys, will be 'sowing their wild oats' and learning about their sexual selves early in life.

We must stop expecting modern girls to be like the girls of the previous generations and adjust our perceptions of how to guide them. I believe it helps to realize that the differences between the sense of the sexual self between males and females is closing. We must accept the fact that the sexuality of our daughters is increasingly like the sexuality of our sons.
I admire your courage in taking on such a hot button issue. This is a subject I’ve discussed with my daughter and her friends. Though some may simply dismiss this type of concern as a pick and choose form of “moral outrage” which is a hypocritical in nature I feel they are missing the heart behind your piece.

Perhaps the key word in the article - which puts this issue in perspective for me - is the word: “Daughters.” These young girls (and they are girls not women) are our daughters.

Caring parents live with many fears concerning their kids. The fear that my daughter may be used, abused, or harmed in any way - either in her reputation or emotionally or physically is a valid and deep concern. I long and hope for her and her friends to find lasting relationships where they will be treated with respect, cherished, and valued as the gifted beautiful girls they are.

It is, therefore, a genuine grief to realize that our “daughters” may be allowing themselves - and in many cases willingly offering themselves - to be objectified as a source of gratification for the more selfish and base instincts of people who would use and discard them without the slightest regard.

Censorship is a frightening thing and an action that should be sparingly used - if ever - in a truly free society. But I do not feel that is the central question raised by this issue.

What must to be addressed, in my opinion, is why any young girl would willingly surrender her incredible worth to be viewed or used as an object of selfish gratification for anyone else. And I’m not sure there is a single answer to this question.

What I am sure of is that fathers (and other men of influence in a young girl’s life) play an enormous role in conveying to our daughters what is most attractive, compelling, and moving to us in a woman.

If men, by example, show our daughters that the women in our lives are cherished and valued on every level because of who they are and all they represent to us - rather than conveying to them that looks and lust will win the day - it may be a good start in preventing them from allowing themselves to be viewed and used as “objects” of selfish desire.

Men of influence in a young girl’s life can demonstrate to them all that is beautiful and valuable about a woman and encourage them to never hand over the power they have to be treated respectfully as the beautiful and valuable girls they are to anyone with lesser intentions.

In the end our daughter have this power over their own lives. But we can help them understand that.

That my poor two cents. Please forgive the length of my reply.

Thank you Mary for your searching piece.
Now, I know that these photos are already freely available somewhere on the internet, but you're certainly not doing these girls any favors by spreading the photos to an even wider audience. That's pretty inconsiderate at best, in my book.
It is pretty amazing. It isn't just facebook either. At least facebook provides some protection from just anyone seeing these photos. When I was checking out photo sharing websites I first looked at webshots and that site had tons of photos of teenagers partying, usually in what looked like their parents houses. The photos weren't hard to overlook either, since they tend to be the most popular in their categories. Don't they think their parents might find these photos? The parents need to step up and explain to their kids that 1) they shouldn't be idiots, and 2) they shouldn't show everyone that they are being idiots.
This is one live-wire of a subject. And lots of good commentary. But Mary, I just have to compliment you on a really well-written piece. Your writing style is direct, funny and contains complex ideas in perfectly shaped, easy-to-open boxes. Thanks!
marytkelly said to kindofblue:
You brought up some great points. My son has a friend who contact herpes through oral sex. He will suffer with this for the rest of his life as well as have to tell any future partners about this.

uh, he doesn't "have" to tell his future partners. his past ones clearly didn't tell him....

I hear what you're saying...but I took grad classes too and I would have been mad if someone printed photos like and passed them around to humiliate somebody. I guess that there will always be people happy to humiliate others, and others who enjoy watching the humiliation, but to me grad school was not about that. and the woman might learn what you think she will from that experience, or she just might just feel more worthless and/or helpless (such pictures are around forever it seems once they're around...and feelings of worthlessness have something to do with the problem in the first place...)

just saying...

and monsieur chariot, I appreciate your take.
I recently got a Facebook account because my friend Julie likes it to keep track of her kids and friends. I had a blog, and felt like it was the "anti-blog" with one sentence entries, and pictures...sort of the "non-literate" bloggers haven.
I have had reports from Facebook from my oldest daughter for a several years. She was "friends" with her cousins and some younger kids of friends. She would show me the (gross) pictures they posted, and she would express concern for their safety, and whether their parents knew about their posts. I know for sure one parent that did, and would talk to her daughter about it. The cousins that showed up drunk and drinking etc. are from a fundamentalist family who kept their kids on a very tight rein all through high school with strict discipline, strong work ethic, and virtually no commercial TV from the time they were small. I don't believe that the girls were doing the "porn" stuff, but there were some compromising situations displayed. So, I don't know about others, but these children didn't lack for parental supervision and primarily "went off" after high school when they were on their own. I guess I should check on my own daughters. I have the feeling it's a show-off thing that they do to make a splash without realizing the consequences which is not atypical of teenagers. In my day, that would mean a pregnancy. What to do? I think that Maryt has the right idea....parents....know thy children....and monitor their internet adventures just like you would if they were leaving the house half naked. And it doesn't hurt to mention the word "lady" in conversations. I think I'll go do that! Thanks, Maryt!
Here here! This is a call to arms that I take very seriously. Thanks for spelling it out.
I just read Edith Wharton's "The House of Mirth," which begins with the heroine Lily Bart getting caught coming out of a man's apartment building (they weren't up to anything) and her attempts to squelch the snowballing rumors that spring from that.

While I in no way would want to go back to those levels of expected propriety, I wonder how any of the girls in these pictures (who look like high school or college students) would be able to understand Wharton's work were they assigned it in an English class. It's not just a shift in societal standards of appropriate behavior with the opposite sex--those go back and forth like a pendulum--but a complete lack of any concept of societal shame.
Well, I tend to think while people here may seem comfortable tsk-tsking almost no one has been able to coherently express exactly WHAT is of such concern to them other than a sort of general feeling that 'objectification' is bad. I would say, being in my mid-30s, that the world is LESS sexually repressive and LESS gender-divisive than 20 year ago. This is just my observation.

While certainly, it is possible to go over the line into twisted or to over-expose oneself as a substance abuser before potential employers, I see little harm in some modest play with sexuality.

For some reason this discussion brings to mind a PhD study my frined worked on. the theory, also posited elsewhere, was that young children are constantly putting things in their mouths... candy, dirt, legos, crayons -- whatever. They do so for a purpose, was the suggestion. The purpose was to willfully expose themselves to toxins, bacteria and contaminants to the end that this would increase their resistance to infection in the long run (and is therefore an evolutionary behaviour).
To those of you who are saying some sort of variation on "its no big deal" or "generations change," or "don't be so offended, hypocrite," I will say this.

Moral issues are not particularly important in-and-of themselves. But they are important because they usually represent a deeper issue in society. For example, take Gangsta rap. Am I morally offended that young black men are rapping about crime and guns and gangs? No, its just music, and some of it is pretty good. But thats not the point. The point is that it is reflective of serious problems in communities with crime.

I don't think anyone should get morally upset at this oversexualizing of ourselves on facebook. I don't think we need to string up these girl's parents either. What we need to do is ask, "what is this a symptom of? What is the real problem that is causing this, that is worth caring about?" My answer is what I wrote above; that education in this country has become disconnected from promoting real responsibility... so much so that colleges now actively promote irresponsibility. That is the major problem.
M. Chariot - not only are you witty you are wise as well.

A lot of what's being said sounds like "slut-shaming" to me. There continues to be a double-standard in that this behavior among boys gets them dubbed "studs" and same behavior gets girls branded "sluts." I'm not saying the pictures or behavior is anything we should be encouraging but we should be careful about laying the blame and responsibility all at our daughters' feet. We need to educate responsibly and comprehensively about sex and teach young women to have pride in themselves.

Also- some of this is just purely being young and dumb.
CM GRowell..."At least facebook provides some protection from just anyone seeing these photos."
I wish that were true, but there is no protection as one can easily right click on a photo, download to desktop and then spread it all over the planet!!
Anyone who posts a photo of any sort on facebook gives up any privacy or ownership to the picture.....and let the consequences fall where they may.
Very interesting and timely post. The content hit two areas. The first was the increasingly promiscuous public behavior of young women showing up in internet photos. The second was the concern that parents, relatives, employers, and spouses would eventually see it causing problems for the future.

I worry about the behavior, but I don't have a solution.

Many of our children do this, including my relatives', but the parents are not on Facebook. I've asked them why: it just isn't interesting to them, and is not on their radar screen. I have commented to many friends that I worry about the postings people are making on the internet. Today, if we want to find out about a person, say for a job, we turn to Google. Everything comes out; all the information is available. So....if you are an employer who Googles the name and finds a prospective employee with drugs, alcohol, parties, and sex on the internet, what do you think?

A couple of weeks ago, Facebook faced a firestorm of protest because they wanted to own the content forever. Wow! You can't get it off. If a young person posted an embarrassing photo, and later worried that a parent, friend, or employer might see it, there was no option to remove it. This is a disconcerting thought. Actually it is probably still there on the giant servers around the world that contain all of the information we create every second.

It's a whole new world out there; young people don't have the education, knowledge, or foresight to see the dangers that such behavior might generate them. The world is moving so fast; life is changing at a geometrically increasing pace. Technology is creating new abilities for us that are is impossible to keep up with. I'm worried about our childrens' future, for a thousand reasons, and this is just one of them. It's just a crazy world!
Holy crap I'm glad I have boys.
I guess my thoughts mostly resemble this by Justin: "Kids are smarter than you give them credit for... Give these people some responsibility...If we actually expected more from them, then they would rise to the occasion. All we expect is that they get in to college, and all college expects is that their parents pay tons of money while their kids are given a drug-and-alcohol fueled playground."

This issue is too complex for sound bite. Those kids mirror us: the (supposed) adults--all of us. Our values are mirrored in those photos you've copied & pasted above. Everybody runs around giving the non-verbal cue "Look at me. Look at me" in both attire and attitude--an emphasis on superficial achievement and less on substance... Our country has been in contraction since the 60's, and this is the world we wanted.
I believe I know the reason for this behavior: at heart, women are sluts. The evidence is right in front of you. Look at FaceBook. Look at the holiday known as Halloween. Men don't have to objectify women; you do all the objectifying for us. Anything different would confuse the order of things and feminism confused things. Don't worry, we still love you -- even if you are objects. No romance without finance.
I know I know. I was actually afraid to look closely at your pictures because I feared I might see some of my husband's younger sisters in it...oh dear. I guess all I can say is that older generations never understand younger generations. Madonna did a number on feminism and women, as did Camille Paglia...I'm not saying they did anything bad per se, it's just that a door got opened.

And then the door stayed open, and pretty soon we didn't want to know what was behind the door. Try to imagine yourself as the uptight 50s woman looking at the 1969/Summer of Love and saying those crazy hippies are so disgusting...

OK, I am the mother of a young daughter, so I know I have no place trying to justify this. I know my time will come when I will be sickened by her "lifestyle" choices. I know they will offend me at some point.

I'm just going to try to remember how horrified my mother was when she found out what was going on in my life as a teenager. Though it's probably true that it was NOTHING compared to what's going on with teens today. Nothing.

Great post, as usual.
Facebook is tame compared to MySpace, which is mainly just half naked, drunken 20 year old girls. It has it's down side too, though.
P.S. I recently had a potential employer get a hold of me via facebook to offer me an occasional writing gig. Since that time, I've been much more self conscious of what I write on their. Forget about pictures...I'd never do that. But then again, my life is fairly boring.
Why the outrage over the women's behavior and not the men's?
You know, I am a prude, but these pictures do not bother me. They are no different than women dressing and Flappers or the Lesbian "trend" of the 1920's. As for if this would affect job prospects, I'm not sure. It's so commonplace that I doubt many people raise an eyebrow anymore about people's behavior in private. I frankly assume everyone is having kinky sex and doing drugs on the weekends. At several places I've worked, it was very common for the male coworkers to go together to strip clubs for retirement partys, etc. They never seemed to fear the loss of their jobs from such behavior, but I guess that's our male-dominated society for ya.
What did happen to values and morals?? All the work the generations before them did to get where we are now and then do this. Great Post
The comments have taken on a life on there on so I will gracefully give way to this fascinating, somewhat intense conversation. It's clear to me that there are many reasons for this phenomenon. And, while Arjun claims to be at a big college and never see pictures like this, there is no doubt in my mind that this is a common occurrence.

These comments have provoked a discussion and in some cases a debate that is much needed. Let's all have our eyes wide open as we watch or are a part of trends that may or may not be ultimately healthy or destructive in this fast paced/technologically spinning out of control spiders that are the Internet. Comments that are especially noteworthy were made by froggy, Dennis Knight, and Monsieur Chariot who, as usual, always offers a unique and intelligent approach. Justin Schmidt has many good things to say and Ralph Tingey brings us up to date on Facebook property rights.
Homeless Hairy, Just Juli and Pill Bug offer some different perspectives that are worthy of taking another look at.

Actually, I'm enjoying everyone's comments. The thing I love most about this vital community...the thoughtful and thought-provoking exchanges.

Many kids on Facebook insist that their pictures are private because only their "friends" can see them. This post illustrates how wrong they are. Someone takes your picture anywhere, puts it on Facebook, "tags" it and puff...your privacy has just been pissed away.

navelgazer: Yes, I'd love to hear more about your thesis and preliminary findings.
I think fat chicks that pose like porn stars are hot. Get a life.
Is the concept of "love" going out the window? I just can't see these girls falling in love. Getting married, having babies, getting divorced, working out to keep in shape, griping about the lack of "good men", yes, but falling in love, that sweet, mind boggling, romantic, heart crushing sentiment - I just think they'll think it's corny, or that it doesn't exist. It's so sad, not just for them, but for our disintegrating culture as a whole.
M B,

"The new trend is "grinding". Literally simulated sex with clothes on."

I'm sorry but are you fucking kidding me? Or just Amish?

Is it that damn "rock and roll" music?

Wake up.
My little one is a tween and she has cellphone with text capabilitiesa and a laptop. She is on a social network site that is designed for kids and "protected". Sometimes, I go through her texts to see what's up. She gets mad: dat privacy thing. I tell her that if she has nothing to be ashamed about, she should not have to worry if I look. Thank God that for now it is all tween sentiments.
But I will keep a vigil.

I know my method may sound Neanderthal to some, but you know what? Sometimes old school is the best rule.

Rated 4 eye-opener.
This is an issue I deal with concerning my older daughter and I try to monitor the MySpace and Facebook but she can have multiple accounts. So it is not good monitoring. Also I guess like any generation judging the one preceding it concernign clothing or music her clothing choices cause me pause . . . until I see what my students wear. Low cut is the shirt of choice for young women in my classes. (And when younger I was never known for being prudish in my clothing choices and more than once got into trouble for wearing mini-skirts to work.)

Ummm. . . one of my goals for Spring break was to update my Facebook and learn how it works but I will use the private setting and avoid befriending students or friends of my daughter based on your post. As you note some distance between generations is desirable.
First, it amuses me that many of the people decrying the young ladies’ lack of social propriety are the same people who post stories regarding the most intimate, embarrassing details of their life on Open Salon.

Second, it confuses me that several commenters here are so flabbergasted that porn actually has an influence on young people. Porn is ubiquitous, and 99% of kids today have seen hours of hard-core porn before they’ve ever been intimate with a real live human being. How could that NOT inform their values and beliefs about sex?? Seriously, I would like someone to explain that to me.

Third, yes, you all really do sound like fuddy duddies. You’re reacting as if these are spread-eagled naked shots. They’re photos of girls sticking their tongues out. I fail to see the reason for hyperventilation over that. The vast majority of these photos are simply meant to be funny. And if you think these are bad, I guarantee you would all have heart attacks if you saw the photos that *didn't* make it onto Facebook -- kids actually do have discretion. Many of these photos are the "tame" ones of a batch.

Fourth, I find the sexism and double standard in these comments distressing. Easily 90% of these comments are portraying the idea that young women are delicate flowers and their sexuality is something to be protected at all costs, while no one has voiced the same concerns about young men.

Fifth, kids do need to learn about presenting a public image to potential employers. At the same time, most people have private Facebook pages and employers can’t see their pages, so some of the hand-wringing here is a little overdone.

Last, when did you all forget what it was like to be young? I'm shocked that so many commenters here operate under the delusion that THEIR children aren’t like this. If your kids take photos like this, you will never know because your kid will make sure you never see them. But here's the deal: if their friends take pics like this, there is an exceedingly high probability that they do too.

This is not something to feel guilty about because as parents, you have little to no ability to neutralize the pervasive, cumulative effects of the pornified culture your child lives in. If you want to change the behavior, you need to change the culture.

Last, since most of you don’t seem to remember being 19, I will remind you: 1. Kids lie to their parents; 2. Kids tell their parents what they want to hear to go get them off their back. And don’t forget that your kid can choose to block you and you alone from viewing images that they post on Facebook, and you would never know the difference.
I believe that the V thing is meant to tell us that they are cunning linguists, so to speak 8/
Every reason why I don't have a facebook or a myspace
Let's be fair. They're not emulating porn stars, they're emulating Rock of Love contestants.

Facebook began around my sophomore or junior year of college, and I usually kept it at arm's length, remembering the day that the common belief was that internet social networking was for losers. I was the target audience at the time, but it rapidly expanded to high school students, then everyone, changing it drastically from a safe space for hedonistic college students. I admit that when I started getting friend requests from my high-school aged cousins and kids of family friends, I was shocked to see their photos. Apparently "prostitute" is an acceptable halloween costume for a sixteen year old now. But the thing is, we've come to the time where young women finally feel comfortable figuring out their sexuality. They're going to mis-step, they'll play-act, they'll look ridiculous, but hopefully one day they'll come to some sort of balance. That's just being young, with raging hormones.

When I think about it, when I was in high school, I took embarrassing, "sexy" pictures with my friends on an occasion or two with a disposable camera, and I remember my older sister's friends doing the same. Though relatively tame, I stashed my pictures in my sock drawer, and eventually destroyed them. And I was one of the smart kids. I just always thought that enjoying your sexuality and being an intelligent, valuable citizen shouldn't be mutually exclusive, but had the sense to know that that idea wasn't commonly accepted in the high school social scene. I can see similar patterns with my mom's generation. She grew up one of the smart kids in conservative, small-town America in the early '60s, and I found out later that she was way more promiscuous than I ever was.

Young people have always experimented with their sexuality. Sex-positive feminism teaches that female sexuality need not be shameful. It's just a symptom of this generation that it happens with public documentation, just like tweets and status messages about everything from having a cute new pair of shoes, to getting on the bus, to taking a nap. It's mainly an issue of overshare.
kryptogal: I really appreciate your comment. You make many good points, yet my unease continues. And it could be as simple as every generation thinks what the younger generation is doing is scandalous and disgusting. It may be as simple as that. And it may not be. I had access to many more pictures that were more explicit than the ones I put up. This is either the tip of the iceberg or it's an ice cube that is melting as we speak. I hope I am being a fuddy duddy. I hope this is MY trigger and nothing else. But I don't think it's that simple. And I'm in the company of some very thoughtful people. I'm still of the opinion, especially when I hear the stories of what is going on in middle school and even THIRD GRADE, this phenomenon should be given the time to look at it from all angles and not a dismissive wave of the hand.
In a world where TV, Cable, Movies, music, delights in sexual adventurism and parents are busy with ...? what I do not know, girls find that sex is a thing one cannot fail to enjoy. Problem is STD's, otherwise it seems like wonderful entertainment to them. They find out too late... far too late...
I was quite surprised to see that you reposted these photographs...they may not be your daughters, but they are the children of someone, a sister of someone...
Robin: How about this? Shoot the message and not the messenger. I took these pictures from posters who have HUNDREDS of friends. These pictures are not private.
That is no reason to continue to proliferate them...
Cassandra: Almost missed your comment. More valid points. Your comment about the Rock of Love wannabees made me laugh. I think one common denominator in these messages is that the Overshare Factor is something to consider.

Monte! You showed up at my post! Thank you.
Robin Sneed......obviously these people in the photos are the daughters/sons of someone but my feeling here are they are NOT children..and we need to stop acting like they are. They look like 20 somethings with a brain, although in these pictures their brains maybe double-doused with tequila shots. There are consequences to everything we do and the consequences of them knowingly posting party pictures are coming true today. We can't have a discussion about this inclusive of photos? Some times putting behavior smack dab in the face of the person behaving badly isn't a bad thing.
Mary - this is my take;

I think that every generation needs to find a different way to be outrageous and shocking - it's an adolescent rite of passage. But, if you track back over the last several decades there isn't much left that can shock - our culture is gradually becoming increasingly desensitized and rapid fire media is making the world smaller.

In the 40's and 50's the things that parents and adults found shocking is laughable today. In the 80's when I passed 20 I lived very much on the edge of that time as well - some of the "shocking" things were laughable as well - like the second earring on my left earlobe. Unbelievable by today's standards - peers at the university would stare and whisper at the audacity of having 2 earrings on one ear. HA! Then came the punked out hair with patterns shaved up that back and the entirely black wardrobe. It was fun, and free, and a little slutty as well.

As for the soft porn FaceBook sluttitude of today's generation- I would have to say it's an ATTEMPT at a rite of passage, a way to let it all hang out, a way to show that you are a free spirit - do you remember "streaking" in the 70's? However, as I said, there just isn't much left that can shock! I'd be much more concerned if it was a behavior that was harmful or self destructive. However, the one thing the kids need to keep in mind these days is that once they put a picture out there it may likely come back to haunt them later, so if they're planning a career that would be damaged by such a thing, a little caution would be advisable....
Mary, I share Robin's concern about the violation of privacy for the people pictured in your post. I understand that they prove your point, quite well ;). But including them here also contributes further to their exploitation and depersonalization. Especially with Kerry asking everyone to promote this post to the stratosphere, I urge you to reconsider how including them serves to promote your overall goals for this piece. It would stand without the pictures, and, for me, would not feel so compromised in its message.
Hilarious article MarytKelly. Allow me to turn you onto a another distressing Facebook trend -- the coy glamor shot pose. This is the sophisticated/hipster alternative to the frat girl "I'm a slut" pic. The girl gazes up into space, or looks at us over her shoulder, or covers her eyes with her bangs. The photo is black and white, or perhaps sepia, as if taken on someone's back porch in the bewitched hours after a party. The girl is mysterious, pretty, dignified. Or something.
Sorry! I do have a conservative streak...not always pretty.
Re Kryptogal:

"First, it amuses me that many of the people decrying the young ladies’ lack of social propriety are the same people who post stories regarding the most intimate, embarrassing details of their life on Open Salon."

Seconded! No offense, but I don't care about any of your life stories, intimate or not.

"Second, it confuses me that several commenters here are so flabbergasted that porn actually has an influence on young people. Porn is ubiquitous, and 99% of kids today have seen hours of hard-core porn before they’ve ever been intimate with a real live human being. How could that NOT inform their values and beliefs about sex?? Seriously, I would like someone to explain that to me."

People's values on sex have always been more depraved than we think. Its just that nobody has admitted it before. Now that its so easy to capture the evidence, it goes public more often.

" Many of these photos are the "tame" ones of a batch."

Yes, thats the point. I think most of us realize that, and we're talking with the understanding that plenty of worse stuff is out there.

"Fourth, I find the sexism and double standard in these comments distressing. Easily 90% of these comments are portraying the idea that young women are delicate flowers and their sexuality is something to be protected at all costs, while no one has voiced the same concerns about young men."

Absolutely not. The only thing to be concerned about with young men is that they are perpetrating this. I'm not going to argue that female sexuality should be repressed or that daughters should be overprotected. But I will adamantly state that these kinds of photos represent males getting what they want: Female self-objectification. Men are not victims in this, they're eating it up. It constantly annoys me that people say that its sexist to focus on the females and not the males in these situations... nobody thinks about male objectification because nobody, least of all males, cares about it. Males (physically) care a great deal about objectifying females, and so it is not at all sexist to say that females are the "victims" here. The situation itself IS sexist; females being socially conned in to performing for males.

"Last, when did you all forget what it was like to be young?" Yeah, Jocks got the most attractive girls who wore the least amount of clothing. It was chauvanistic then too, but you couldn't right-click-save it.
Can someone please explain how these photos actually harm people? I hear a lot of emotional outrage and fear but very few logical descriptions of actual harm to the women in the pictures or those who view


Let's walk through some of marytkelly's points and see if they're really as bad as imagined:

1) "employers ... check out prospective employees by looking at their Facebook or MySpace accounts"
This is probably the best point marytkelly makes, especially if the employer is, well, like marytkelly and outraged by such pictures. But that's kind of a tautological argument: I'm outraged because I'm

afraid other people will be outraged! Anyway, this problem is only half true: MySpace pages are publically viewable but Facebook pages are, by default, only viewable by "friends" of a page's creator. In

Facebook, page creators can even further limit access to albums to an explicit list of people.

The obvious implication is that being a porn star is inherently bad. Let's take a look at this for a moment: Pornography, as of 2006, is a $97.06 billion industry with higher revenues than Microsoft, Google,

Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and Earthlink combined. ( This isn't to say that revenue makes right, but it does show that pornography and

thus porn stars are much more mainstream than most people imagine. Many people believe that porn stars are drug addicts and carriers of veneral disease. While I can't speak to drug addiction, the pornography

industry has strict testing guidelines and follows OSHA standards for the adult industry! While being a porn star has some risks like any other job, the main risk to porn stars seems to be being denigrated

by a judgemental society.

3) "pictures of themselves... in degrading poses."
Frankly, I would rather see my children in "degrading" faux sexual poses than seeing them passed out drunk or doing other dangerous things.

4) "V Sign is everywhere"
5) "Is vulgar the new sexy? Is crude and exhibitionist the new normal? Is objectification the new feminism?"
6) "girls grabbing other girl’s breasts"
Could these not be interpretted as signs of newly found female sexual empowerment? The V Sign is an obvious reference to cunninglingus, which many feminists and sexual therapists recommend as much more

likley to lead to female orgasm. It's empowering women, saying sex should be pleasurable for BOTH men and women. And women grabbing each other's breasts: this is something men have pretended to do for ages.

Woman are now empowered enough to do it themselves.

7) "girls drinking out of bongs"
Ah, finally a real issue! Binge drinking and especially underaged binge drinking is indeed a problem which can lead to death, drunk driving and possibly unwanted sex. But the majority of the outrage is

addressed at sexual poses not drinking.

8) "Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem are rolling over in their graves and they’re not even dead."
For Steinem, the ill of such photographs is "no equal power or mutuality... In fact, much of the tension and drama comes from the clear idea that one person is dominating the other... an imitation of the

male-female, conqueror-victim paradigm, and almost all of it actually portrays or implies enslaved women and master." The funny thing is, these photos are all about mutuality -- the photos often involve

large groups of men and women and are often taken by women. These photos are incredible social and group oriented.

7) "The boys look awkward but happy. The girls look ridiculous and desperate."
This is a double standard applied by marytkelly. Both men AND women look awkward and happy. Why is it that only the women look desperate? This reveals more about the viewer's perception than any objective


8) "I wonder about these girls and how they are going to feel about all these pictures that are now circulating the Internet for all eternity?"
They probably don't feel much of anything now nor will they feel much in the future as there are probably millions, if not billions of these photos already on the net. It's just another drop in the bucket.

Again, the sheer prevalence of these types of photos doesn't make them right but certainly reduces the social stigma that could be applied to them.

9) "When they realize that someday their daughter may ask them, “Mom, what were you doing in those pictures? Gross Mom!”
Uh... not if their daughter is posting similar pictures.

10) "It’s all disturbing but especially disturbing are the pictures of the pre-16 year olds"
Our society tends to have a negative reaction to sexualization of children -- the main argument being that it leads to sexual abuse and early sexual encounters. Of course, the original post doesn't exactly

address this. As an aside, the average age of first sexual encounter in the United States has been 16 for a couple of years, even before the advent of Facebook. It will be interesting to see if Facebook

photos contribute to an early age of first sexual encounter. But it is interesting to ask, "What are the problems with early sexual encounters?" There are some obvious problems: Regret, STDs and unwanted

pregnancy. The later two can be reduced via education. But where does regret come from? Might it be caused by society denigrating sex and thus causing a self fulfilling prophecy?

11) "And take their frigging computers and cell phones away from them until they can behave like a lady."
This argument runs counter to the supposed feminist outrage against these photos. "Act like a lady" was a term that used to be used to oppress women -- to keep them from working, going outdoors, to keep them

in corsets, etc. "Behave like a lady" is the most anti-feminist expression possible.

So yes, these photos might hurt employment opportunities if the user is dumb enough to share them with a prudish employer. And yes, it may contribute to the sexualization of younger adolescents, but is

probably more of a symptom than a cause, given that adolescents were already having sex around this age before Facebook came around.

Other than that, the outrage against these photos is just an emotional judgement. And it's that judgement itself that's hurting the women in these photos more than anything else.
You know, I've been watching the various business news channels all day long, and I think I can help you out here.

What a lot of these girls are doing on facebook is like what Faux Business does. They tart up the women, have them put on fuck me pumps, wear a skirt so tight their thong lines are showing, and show some skin. But at the end of the day, their ratings are tiny, because while eye candy is nice, we want intelligent commentary and analysis.

What CNBC and Bloomberg do is the opposite. They put on (for the most part) talented, smart, and sharp anchors. Yes, some of them are gorgeous. Maria Bartiromo didn't get the name "money honey" because she's smart, hard working, and tenacious. Erin Burnett didn't get the nickname "street sweetie" because of her brains.

Bloomberg's anchors aren't as well known, so they don't get nicknames. But Deirdre Bolton, in addition to being sharp, is beautiful.

Women need to ask themselves who they want to be? Do they want to be one of the "Foxtrots" as they are known on the NYSE floor, strutting around in six inch fuck me pumps with skirts slit to there?

Or do they want respect and admiration for not just their looks, but for much, much, much more?

I can't, for the life of me, name one Faux Business anchor other than Liz Claman, who came over from CNBC.

I would run out of fingers and toes naming various anchors at CNBC and Bloomberg. Why? Because they know what the hell they are talking about in addition to being gorgeous.
Donna Sandstrom...I understand where you are coming from but...

"Every picture tells a story don't it"
.....and when posting on facebook a photo, a comment, or a blog can become a networking cluster bomb that explodes throught that site at a million miles a minute. Again...personal responsibility is something everyone might have to learn the hard way.
These type of women in college I've met as a prof. They hate feminism, think it is about hating men. They want to compete with the wild free-spiritedness of male sexuality and behavior. Interesting peice...btw: why won't you write me back Mary Kelly???
You know I was one of those kids who had a great "real" -fake ID (made my the DMV) before they had computers that stored photos of people. I partied, threw parties like a rockstar. I was the one who bought the kegs for people -at age 17, in the late 80's. We were the cool kids. There are hardly any photos of me from age say 17 through 21 where I didn't have either a cigarette or beer and usually both in my hands...
But let me tell you. We NEVER did the slut poses and such. It is so wrong, we had values. We were not slutacious (is that even a word?) kidding or otherwise. I don't get it. I think they may be trying to be funny, imitating Girls Gone Wild and such. But honestly ladies, just as I cringe at my beer drinking an cigarette smoking pictures of yester-year.... Yours are infinitely worse! You will regret it years from now. Plus, once they are up on the Internet, anyone can download, add to another blog. Perverts can exploit them whatever.

I really don't know what to say, but even though we are not Catholic, I WILL send my daughter (who is presently still age 2) to a Convent school if she ever gets notions like that above; that much I promise.


To Sara Knight--

Yeah, I'm sure no girls who've had Catholic schooling would act in such ways.

Wait. I did 11 years of Catholic school. I know that's not necessarily the case. In fact, the environment sometimes allows for even more over-the-top behavior.
This is not a plug for my art, but I'm gonna talk about it a little because it's relevant I think. One of my major projects has been drawing portraits of teenage girls from MySpace. You can check out some of the drawings here:

Obviously I am interested in the complications and implications of online networking and the way people (especially girls) choose to portray themselves in their pictures, as well as the viewer's relationship to the pictures.

I'm not interested in condemning girls who post suggestive pictures of themselves (or the culture which apparently forces them to exploit themselves), and I think to do so is highly reductive and puritanical. I'm not encouraging the behavior you denounce, but I think it is far more complex than you paint it.

Not everyone considers such pictures to be degrading, including most who post them I imagine. Shockingly, I think a lot of them may actually be having fun in the pictures and may actually think it's fun to post them. We can't pretend that sexuality isn't part of youth and growing up; Facebook and MySpace just make it more visible in a real way. Doesn't anybody else here remember high school?
You aren't a prude, and neither am I.....and I find all of that so terribly gross.

What ARE they thinking...are they thinking at all???
I have spent the past 15 years writing grants that are full of statistics and stories about what our young people face growing up in todays' world. While I can easily relate to the "What the hell are they thinking" posts, I have been trying to see it from the side of those young girls. One of the things that keeps coming to me are the quotes I have read from kids who really believe they have no future to live for, that terrorism or some other unknown act of violence or environmental collapse could take them away tomorrow. Live for today. OK, so I would choose a different way to express my fears and frustrations than semi-porn Facebook shots. That said, I do remember my mom building a "bomb shelter" in our basement in the 60's. That was pretty scary and I didn't end up flashing my boobs to people I hardly knew, or anyone for that matter. I don't know, I just feel like, as adults, we have to take some responsiblity here. We raised these kids. Well, I didn't. Mine are still in grade school, where the sassy poses and tongues hanging out have already reared their ugly heads. I am hoping I am raising my kids to make wise choices and we surround them with young adults who can be role models...but then one of those role models recently friended me on Facebook and now I get to read all about how he blacked out at a party last night in the middle of something going on with his girlfriend. I don't have the answer, I just know that along with all the young women in those photos, there are lots of smart, amazing women who have the ability to change our world. I am voting for them.
Oh, and I think DoomGoober makes many salient points.
I wanna make it clear that I am thinking of both genders. I understand acting out and rites of passage and oh hell, I lived through the 80' I hope you know where I am coming from here.

I guess I just find it a bummer as a feminist. I want these young women and men to treat themselves as more valuable than they portray themselves here.

It ain't the end of the world, but class, I find, is increasingly valueless.
As somebody who is only slightly to old to have grown up with social networks, I want to make a few observations:

1) These pictures are NOT mostly taken by or for men. The majority of these pictures (especially the group shots) are taken by girls and mainly meant to show OTHER GIRLS how cool they are. And yes, teenagers believe ridiculous things to be cool, being slutty is just the coolness du jour. They're trying things out - the only real problem about this whole thing is that they often make asses out of themselves...

2) The made-up employment issue: Due to flickr, Facebook, cell-phone cameras and other technological marvels, the percentage of college graduates without "compromising" pictures is rapidly approaching zero, with an E.T.A. of about five years from now. There that goes as a selection criterion.

3) These girls and their peers (and that includes the guys) do not feel that their poses are demeaning. They have views regarding sexuality, privacy, friendship, the media and freedom of expression and lifestyle that you cannot even begin to understand. At least not by going into a hissy-fit over "eroding values".

4) The definition of "character" in this generation seems to be drifting from "who you are, all the time" to "who you can be, when want to." At the time these pictures are taken, the protagonists -and that's the key word here- are trying to have a good time. Being human, and teenagers at that, they naturally often fail. But that's not for you to judge!

5) Puberty is drifting closer to childhood dramatically, as is the availability of information on sexuality. What you were like when you were 15 is simply not interesting anymore.

6) Responding to an other commenter: Of course these kids fall in love and have romantic relationships just like everyone else. Do you actually believe that simulating oral sex on MySpace has any effect on anybody's ability to feel and give love?

7) For better or worse (probably worse), these kids are well over feminism. They either have absolutely no stance regarding their place in the world, or they've come out the other side and are into territory that hasn't been defined yet.
newblog: Damn... just can't get anything by you.

To some of the other commenters who think I am condemning these girls, let me say this. I am not condemning...I am expressing concern...I am expressing a lack of understanding...I am expressing befuddlement...and I am expressing concern. My 21-year old daughter has many friends who post these kind of pictures and she thinks it's disgusting and that they are being "rebellious". Well, nothing wrong with being rebellious. This is the task of the adolescent.

And call me crazy for being disturbed at the pictures like this that middle school kids are taking! Is 10 now the new 21?

artsfish: I always love your reasonable and calm perspective.

Doom: I appreciate the time and patience it took for you to write your comment. You have a point well taken with the "double standard" comment. Guilty as charged. As for the term "lady", I'm pretty sure that you and I see this word much differently. If being a lady means being repressed, you're right. If lady means a woman who has self-respect,self-value, self-dignity and dare I say (and this goes for both sexes) some self-discipline...then lady works just fine for me.

JASON: Please be patient with me. I think of writing you every day but then I have so much to say I get overwhelmed. Stupid really. But I will make it up to you I will...

Donna: I always respect your opinion and today is no different. I have been wrestling with this all day. I have an upset stomach about this. To omit the pictures feels like following a recipe with no pictures. Pictures are powerful. Pictures speak volumes. I did not take these pictures from someone's camera. They are all out there in cyperspace available for many to see. I understand what you and Robin are saying, I do. And I'm still torn.

Chris K: Your art is good and your pictures telling...again, I am not denouncing nor am I trying to simplify. I think my comments would clarify this. I'm not one of these therapist types who acts like they have to be an expert on every condition known to mankind. I work with parents and families who are terribly concerned about this. I think it's okay to be concerned. Like the majority of the commenters, I think it's critical to be concerned.
Persophone13: Thank you for expressing so well what I have been somewhat clumsily trying to express!
I don't think it's critical to be concerned. I really agree with almost everything DoomGoober said. And I remember high school (and junior high) and don't find any of this the least bit shocking. Guys and girls liked fooling around and clowning around, we just didn't have the technology that exists today. The shocking thing may be that youthful sexuality--in all its awkward, pop-culture mimicking, goofy, embarrassing, touching and weird ways--is being displayed honestly by the youths themselves. I think that is threatening to some people.
Monsieur Chariot--Very well said. Thank you.
To be fair, there are plenty of pictures on boys' Facebook pages of them doing stupid shit too--beer bongs come to mind.

Re: future employment. Maybe some of the posters are right, and that these pictures will become so ubiquitous that their existence is no longer a barrier to future employment in more conservative fields (think what's probably the single biggest field for college-educated women--teaching). But the LACK of such pictures of your younger, stupider self isn't going to hurt your chances of getting hired.

Also, I don't buy that Facebook pictures can be kept truly private. Even if they're viewable by "friends only", all it takes is one "friend" to right-click-save-as and re-distribute them on another website.
I fear for my teenage daughters.

I think I have raised them better. Then again, the other day, my youngest, 14, was disgusting at the dinner table, got called on it, and then said, "there are no rules!"

This is excellent, maryt. You are a swell human being.
From prostitot to sorostitute, with a stop at Club Libby Lu in between.
What if the reason they look like sluts is that they are sluts? And what if they are sluts, Mom and Dad, because you made them that way?
Don't neglect the simplest answers, just for being unhappy truths.
If *everyone* has done this, a generation from now ... why, no one will care about what other people do in their personal lives! Where would we be then?!
Remember those wonderful flower power free love days back in the 60's? They were being rebellious, they were "just" being teenagers. Today, 1 out of 5 TEENAGERS have STD's. The percentage goes up with age. Call me old-fashioned, but the idea of an STD just doesn't sound very compelling or that rebelliously satisfying.
Thank you so much for posting this, I agreed. It is also timely, I've just been added as a friend to my nieces' pages, and find I'm having much the same feelings, there is a great deal of this I simply don't want to know! I remember so clearly my own teen age contempt for the stuffy morality of my elders, but it's very hard not to squawk when I see some of the stuff I'm seeing !!
I have a picture of myself with my three friends at the age of 13 being "slutty." It's pretty innocent by today's standards - this was the year Flashdance came out and we are wearing brightly colored tights and leg warmers with sweaters falling off one shoulder - but at the time we thought we were all that.

The main difference between us then and girls now is that we took a Polaroid picture for each of us, and that was that. Now the pictures go everywhere.

I can't understand Facebook anyway. Nowhere on the internet will you learn my real name; at my 20 year high school reunion, I was the one no one could find so they had to call my mother. I have a life and I have an online life, and frankly, the more separation between the two, the more comfortable I am.

You know, I've been reading the comments, and the more I read, the more I remember. We were a bunch of wild little sluts, and frankly, I bet some of the ladies here pretending to be shocked were too. We used to brag about giving blow jobs, and give phone sex, and I had a friend who once masturbated with a banana at a party. But here's the thing: we grew out of it. By the time we were the age these girls were, we had pretty much calmed down.
Ultimately, the better lesson here is mind your privacy settings, and don't friend your mom--especially if your mom is a "values" vigilante hellbent on publicity.

BTW, Facebook is a walled garden. If your settings are done right, your employer can't see anything. And "the tongues" indicate cunnilingus: the act of using the mouth, lips, and tongue to stimulate the female genitals.
Get ready for a painfully oversimple answer: Britney and Christina. Bigger answer: rampant sexism where women feel the only way the can look sexy is looking like a porn star. It's there way of saying "Hey guys, I'll do what you want. Just like me." Its a desperate need to fit in in a sexually competitive, unnerving, disturbing world. Its sad, actually...and disappointing.

But thanks for your piece. We need to talk about this issue more.
The problem here is that no one on either side is taking responsibility. One can kind of look at the naive 15-20-somethings and have a bit of pity because at one point, we've all done some fairly self-disrespectful things.

However, I think a lot of the blame tends to not get shoved on the previous generation. I've heard so many parents discuss how ugly and pathetic these bouts of social prostitution are, and immediately say things like "where are there parents!?" and "it's all of these reality programs that are creating this!"

Well I've got news for you all. It was you generation that created these programs and it continues to be your generation that lets them watch these things. You hear mothers and fathers get indignant and huffy when they see these things on TV and then they immediately turn the other cheek as their own children are watching them. I'm not saying that anyone in particular on here is doing this necessarily, but as much as I'm upset by the serious lack of self-respect in these boys/girls....I think I'm more upset at parents that turn a deaf ear and are blatantly hypocritical about the situation. People ask "where are their parents?!" and don't realize the hypocrisy as they take an hour out of their day to type out a blog or a comment on a blog while their child watches exactly what they're protesting.

As for the actual acts. I don't really think this is all that new. I just started reading "The Ethical Slut", and while I doubt I could ever live in such a fashion as to have multiple partners throughout my life, or be quite as sexually adventurous with numerous partners at the same time....I can see it's appeal. These girls/boys are doing EXACTLY what the generation before them did. They are just have the tools to make that more public than ever before. The idea that this will not come back to haunt them is simply a lack of foresight, a trait which I think pretty much every single person on this earth dealt with around that time in their lives.

Just some thoughts.

I think it's because everyone 25 and younger think and act like they are on a reality TV show. I'm not making this up.

I don't think that they "get" that there isn't a compulsive need out there for someone anyone to "see me! see me!"

It started I think with the Truth or Dare movie - Madonna ( the start of the Reality era.... In which warren beatty asks her "is there anything worth doing if the camera isn't rolling?"
Part of me wish that girls were like thi when I was 16! But maybe not. I remember a recent study finding that 1/4 of the teenage girls in the US are infected with Herpes. That's about as unsexy as it gets.
Great post! Right now, I'm very happy I don't have a kid. Hopefully, all of this will go away by the time we do.

I don't think this is that big of a deal. Every generation has it's mistakes, and public sexuality seems fairly minor. Yeah, some people will take it too far, but there are always people who take it too far.

I do, however, find the commercialization of pre-teen proto-sexuality troubling. Part of the job of teens and tweens is to push the boundaries a bit. And the job of their parents is to push back and establish boundaries. Buying your tween daughter a padded bra isn't pushing back and establishing boundaries. It's outsourcing that role to somebody who doesn't care about your child.
I'm disgusted . . .but not shocked about this kind of thing. Someon mentioned the fact that adult material is within easy reach of teens . . .it s true. Even back when I was in high school (97-2001) the internet wasn't nearly what it is it now. and the most "naughty" thing we did was sneak up on Friday night a watch fuzzy (illegal) HBO and snag my best friends brothers Hustler and "dared" to have a beer.

We thought we were being "so bad", when in reality, we were just being kids . . . . it was harmless and curious fun and no one got hurt or put themselves in a bad situation. Sad thing is, once you put crap in cyber space, it stays there and and can be passed between 100,000's of people in mere seconds . . .

I do not understand why employers are looking at "would-be-employees" FB and MS accounts? Granted people shouldn't post this kind of crap on ANY social network site (or any site that isn't intended for adult material) Period. I had a MySpace account, for like 2 minutes . . . . Lame!
Took me a while, but time for my .02. It starts way, way, way before Facebook and Must be controlled by parents. I am SO tired of parents who say, 'oh the kids know more about computers and cell phones than I do.' Wanna protect your CHILDREN? Fucking LEARN!

I know a 10 year old who already dresses and talks like a wanna be rock star (thank god she doesn't yet know from porn stars) and a 13 year old who seems more like a kid from the 1950's. Guess which one is happier? Right, the young teen.The poor 10 year old has been allowed to succumb to peer pressure in her more affluent community. What 10 year old needs a fancy laptop and an iPhone??? She's missed her real childhood, moved on to tween, which she's not ready for... and it is so PREVENTABLE.

Our parents said NO. My husband and I and many of you said NO. Why are so many parents today afraid to say no? If you don't set limits and d appropriate boundaries when your kids are young, by the time they're in high school and college they'll have no moral compass. So even when they're reached the age and time to experiment and make mistakes, they have no clue what's really too far and self-degrading and dangerous. And sooner or later, they will blame you.

Showing tongues or tits isn't liberated, it's demeaning. We can't stop the older ones who're already there. We have to stop the younger ones from getting there.
Mary - thanks for the thoughtful reply. One more thought - if it was a mistake for these girls to take these photos, publishing them here both compounds that mistake (punishes them for it?), and exploits it. I can't speak for your stomach, but that's what's making me queasy about it ;)
Is this an ad for

If not, then this must be some sort of a joke. First of all, those women fighting for women's rights NEVER BURNED THEIR BRAS. And that is a fact. So, I suggest you get back in the books, and get cracking.

Second, the fight for gender equality is exactly that - right for women and men to be idiots, and for such behaviour not to be understood or examined in detail, or criticised.

What you are having a problem with is really the definition of behaviour as tied to classes within society. It bothers you that these "middle class" young women are displaying their behaviour to rest of society. I do not believe that these young "ladies" act any different than their parents had. The only difference is that you get to put with it now, and there are pictures to stay.

Do you know what their kids are going to say reviewing the photos? Same thing you should: kids being stupid, and having fun. Whether that fun is tasteless is by no means a debate, but this veneer of good behaviour that "oh you so older members of society exude" seems duplicitous, judgmental, and largely hypocritical to boot.

Oh that, and you are obviously mistakenly living in a wrong neighbourhood.
Kids are getting STDs because they're not wearing *condoms*. The Bush administration tried to push that ridiculous abstinence only agenda, and there you go. Teenagers are going to have sex. Teenagers have always had sex. Honestly, nothing has changed with "kids these days". Who was the older guy a while back who wrote a post about how he met his wife- something about a threesome while in college?

The biggest lesson here is: ***Take it off the fucking internet!*** Girls want to go around making hand signs about oral sex, Who cares? I don't care. But they should take it off the internet- for their own safety.
Even my grandma, my puritanical church lady grandma, who's in her 70's, talks about her and my grandpa going to look for "turtle eggs" at night on the (then undeveloped) beach when they were dating in high school. You think they were looking for turtle eggs? Huh. I'm sure they were getting some "Night Moves" themselves.
It troubles me every time a dead girl is found in a ditch, thrown away like garbage.
OK. A few thoughts:

(And please bear with me while I play Devil's advocate for a bit; it's just that nearly EVERY person on this entire site seems to be middle-aged, nauseatingly wholesome and completely incapable of relishing the joys of nihilism -- which is why I have no idea why I still post and read on OS. Meh. Black sheep complex?)

OK, just try to have a sense of humor, please.

1) You are either a lifelong prude, or an ex-harlot who finally 'saw the light'. Which? (This is NOT a 'yes or no' question.)

2) If you think Facebook is bad, I'll have you know that a lot of these racy photos wind up piled end-to-end on 'non-nude' websites like this one -- jailbaitgallery"DOT"com -- which is probably where most of these prospective employers stumble upon them.

3) Thank you for the pics.
In all honesty, shedding my histrionic veil of antagonism, my thoughts on this matter are probably more in line with Ms. Irma Arkus who commented slightly above.

Thumb to Ms. Arkus.
Oh my, what a provocative post and interesting thread. Is it possible to say that I agree with everything everyone's said? Because I do. I feel like a rag doll being thrown about or the rope in a game of tug-a-war. As a meta comment, I agree with those who pinpoint the crux as the public/private issue. Separately, I think sometimes we olds like to project a sense of loneliness or desperation or soullessness onto teenagers who see the world differently than we do, when there's really no evidence to suggest that they're unhappy or regretful about their behavior. I think they're forging new paths, especially in the public sphere and it frightens many of us. Maybe if we remember that each of those girls has a family and a job and perhaps a pet or worry or funny quirk, then it's harder to demonize or fear the culture so much. But then again, I see the negative side of desensitization--young adults simply becoming inured to genuine intimacy. I can't say I don't worry about it.
I'm not so inclined to judge for a number of reasons. I do know a few college-bound teenagers girls who I think are pretty honest with me, although of course that's a tiny sample. Mostly, I just think this is complex and not necessarily (or entirely) what us olders may think. I remember back to when the way I dressed and talked made adults think I was totally ruined, when indeed I was no such thing, just expressing myself within a cultural context. The current post-HIV cultural context includes the idea that sex=intercourse is dangerous, even potentially deadly. (Whereas we worried about getting pregnant.) I think young, sexually maturing people want to feel free to express their version of sexuality, in a cultural context that we may not entirely understand. But I don't think many of these girls feel that having intercourse is a safe thing to do, and I think most of them are not having intercourse. Instead, they are having oral sex and showing each other that they know what's what. I think girls are more open to girl/girl sex, too, not necessarily because they are lesbian, but because it is a safe expression. Anyway, I don't know either, but again, I don't think this is a sign of a ruined generation. Really.
some people are attention whores and will degrade themselves by any means in order to get attention. Whether it's good attention or bad attention, it's still attention. Sure you have people calling you a slut and a whore because you posted a pic of yourself on facebook kissing 3 guys at once while they grabbed your ass and breasts, but hey- you wanted the attention, right?

about the only thing i do on Facebook anymore is send my buddy links to funny youtube videos (most end up being from Kids in the Hall)... occasionally i'll put pictures up, but that's cause i'm pretty sure my computer is going to epically die on me soon- so i'm just preparing so i can recover everything...
thanks for writing about this; you've spawned a really interesting discussion!

i want to throw a wrench in the whole thing by asking you to comment on another blog post... the one titled, "Bill O'Reilly and the Faces of Rape".

and i'm curious if you could put your finger on exactly what bothers you about these images? women are objectified in our culture all the time and i think it is a problem. it's a bigger problem when a girl who sends porny pictures of herself to her friends can be charged with child pornography. are women's bodies weapons of mass destruction that must be strapped into protective shielding all the time?

or is it ok for girls to decide to objectify themselves just as a phase or experiment? why shouldn't it be?

i'm remembering my first college roommate, who took great pains to explain to me that she was only on birth control to stabilize her moods and had two quilts with the lord's prayer on it... who then went to a pimps and hos party when she rushed for sorority. her social shame evaporated in the community she chose because it was a hindrance.

nice points, doomgoober.
great post..i suddenly feel a strong urge to go hug my long-haired , guitar obsessed, left leaning and passionate pro-hemp advocate - 17 year old son

he leaves his room at least twice per day to get snacks and use the toilet...i'll wait outside his door and ambush him

Irma: I'm sorry, have we met? I don't remember meeting you but we must have met, had some kind of previous encounter where I must have made you incredibly mad. This is the only thing that might possibly explain the hostility in a comment where a post merely invites a discourse, a discussion and a debate. BTW, never heard anyone describe Boulder, Colorado as living in the "wrong neighborhood". But being right is clearly not my forte.

There were several commenters who used the term "judgment" and a desire to not judge. I think for me what has been valuable in this multi-layered discussion is to hear all the OPINIONS of others. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. There doesn't need to be a right/wrong answer to this. There needs to be no blame placed on only single source. At the end, there may be nothing to place blame on. The offensive-to-some word "lady" was never meant to be interpreted as repression. I've come out of repression and I'm never going back there, nor are my daughters. The more ideal word would denote a woman of strength, independence, self-reliance, and self-respect.
Let's see, what sort of role models do young girls have, and what sort of message are they getting? Feminism is one problem. Far from teaching girls to be strong, it teaches them to do whatever they want because they can. It doesn't teach them to be the holders of the moral compass. Nature has decided that men should push and woman should resist. this is not sexist, and not a bad thing, but now men get whatever they want, whenever they want it. Magazines like Cosmo etc also teach women, supposedly, what men like and how they should get multiple orgasms and never accept any man who isn't perfect. Television programs are full of sex, and virtually nothing is taboo. The trouble with all this is, it's driving men away from forming attachments and teaching girls to be whores. Unlike what you might believe, men aren't into long term relationships with sluts. A roommate of mine once moaned to me about why couldn't she find a long term boyfriend. I told her not to sleep with guys on the first date which caused her to blow up at me. Here's the thing ladies: Men want someone they can respect, and that's not the girl who puts out at the drop of a hat. We don't want someone who has been with every other guy in town. Men are much more likely to form a lasting relationship with the girl who says no, than the one who drops her drawers after a McDonald's burger. It's disgusting to say the least and with the rate of sexually transmitted diseases amongst young woman today, it's extremely risky and unhealthy. If you think the behavior of young girls on facebook is bad, try looking through the rest of the internet. College girls having sex in front of a room full of their peers is just one of the things that horrified me, and I wont go any further with other revolting things I've stumbled across without even looking. I'm certainly glad I'm not a young man anymore as I'd definitely stay single.

I shudder at the things my 15 year old daughter tells me about what goes on at school. I'm sorry, but parents are largely to blame here. Kids are uncontrolled and not being given a good home education to go with the school one. Parents need to be much firmer with their kids, and keep an eye on what they're doing and with whom they're doing it.

Laugh at me if you will, but I thought a guy's point of view might help.
Alright, let me explain the phenomenon to all of you folks.

Girls are competitive. They all want to bang that one guy on the top of the pyramid. And this is how they compete for him. Facebook is just a new tool for an old game.

It has nothing to do with being subservient or man-pleasing. 99% of these trollops do not give a flying crap about pleasing men in general, only about pleasing that ONE man on the top of their (local) pyramid.

So you mothers can all stop being worried about you darling little sons being taking advantage by all the little sluts running rampant around your middle school. It is not going to happen. Do I have to repeat? They are not the least bit interested in him.

And don't post about how your sweet little son is oh-so-popular with the little trollops. I know your motivation, it is just the grown woman's way of flattering herself, kind of an older version of the slutty facebook pictures.

Is everyone sufficiently offended now? I thought so.

The problem is not all the sluts and their facebook pcitures. The problem is that 99% of the male population is not getting any of it. Now THAT is a real problem.
Bes7tme.......LOL on your comment AND the love the word "trollop" is so underused. funny reply.
bes7tme: I wasn't offended in any way, but I'm still laughing.
Again I am on my knees (not for that) but to thank which ever greater power bestowed upon me the wisdom to not have children. I would not handle this well. Not. At. All. Well.
Thank you to those who liked my comment. I was very pleasantly surprised by the positive reaction.

As you all well understood, it was intended to be humorous but also to point out that the parents should be less worried about their daughters degrading themselves and more worried about which men it is they are "degrading" themselves for.

-- Just a regular guy, and even more so in middle school
Ah, com'on, it's not that bad. This is just the 21st century version of what the hippie generation did. (Yeah, back than it really was about fun, the ideals were nice accessories).

It's the same old story. Free love? Mini-skirts? How did the parents of those generations feel?

(Those women of 68 with free love and all that went with it - to them it might have been about emancipation, but to their parents it was just SHOCKING and VULGAR and OBSCENE and SLUTTY)... familiar?

Fact is: "we" (the old ones) don't "get it", because we look at it with our own programming - but that's already a couple of decades past what's hip to young folks.

Controlling (or, as you call it: "deprogramming") your kids isn't a good choice - rather teach them how to deal with reality (yeah, even that crazy reality in the reality shows) in a healthy manner.
This phenomenon troubles me greatly. I guess I'm lucky because I've had three boys, but my 16-year-old has a girlfriend who likes to do the big cleavage thing, and I wonder what these kids are doing when they're alone. My now college student had a sexual relationship when they were both 15 and it wound up being an emotional disaster.

My youngest is grounded this month. He lost his driving, internet, cellphone and iPod privileges because the two of them lied to a bunch of parents and spent the night together in Mom's house after Winter Ball. They swear nothing happened, but what the fuck, anyway!

When I drive him to school I see all the cute little high school girls, looking just like, well, high school girls. But they invite me every year to help run 'Casino Night' for the graduating seniors, and at that affair, on campus no less, the girls have their formals on and their tits shoved up and out for all to see. Don't you dare look goddamnit! So I'm trying to run a craps table and they're all leaning over and falling out all over the place and it's really fucking troubling, titillating, disturbing. Did girls have breasts that impressive when I was a kid? Jesus, I was born waaaaay too early. When I was that age getting laid was like the hardest thing in the world. Now, the girls insist on making it easy.
What worries me the most is what it says about the loss of the sacred. I wonder how much young people (boys do this, too) value their sexuality... I wonder how well they even understand themselves in that regard. And I'm exasperated with our society for the way it deals with sexuality. It seems to me that this "lewd" behavior is an attempt to express something about themselves that they can't quite grasp (or they wouldn't be expressing it in this way). There is so much stifling of sexual expression that it ends up exploding out through booty shorts that read, "Gaucho." I think that if we provided a warm, open-minded and intelligent environment for kids (yes, kids... they are sexual beings, too!) to express their sexuality, there would be much less of less. Bravo to you for your call to parents to deprogram their children. And what a great word, "deprogram," because programming is exactly what has gone wrong. It's a battle to avoid all those sexy-yet-stifling-of-sexuality forms of media out there (magazines that give awful sex advice come to mind), but we can do it. And the more we do it, the less there will be as people are reintroduced to the beauty of unfettered sexuality at the core of every human being.
MK... I found this so provocative that I spent an idle day writing a piece of my own in response. I found I have similar concerns and a completely different point of view. I hope you'll let me know what you think. Cheers.
This seems way way way overblown. So girls like to post some lewd pics og themselves online drinking and having fun? I mean honestly I don't see the big deal. maybe it's just because I'm just over 30, but you go to bars, clubs, parties in high school, college, post college and pl make fools of themselves and fool around sexually all the time. Is it really such a big deal? I mean weather we want to admit it or not on some level after puberty were all sex objects. Joking around with some pictures which aren't at all pronographic if you ask me seems like nothing but normal play. I think ppl are way to overobsessed with a morality that just doesn't really exist in American society. Kids grow up. Boys become men girls become women and at some points they explore their sexualit. It's perfectly normal.
As for all these job and grad school scares I mean I think that's way overblown as well. It may happen, but are hiring mngrs really that concerned about your facebook pictures? In my experience their much more concerned if you can do the job over your morals. And playing devils advocate here lets say a girl actually was fairly promiscuous in college is that some reason not to hire her? Cqan she not do the job for some reason? She supposed to be a virgin when she goes to grad school? Really who cares. I think it's less an issue than it was 10 yrs ago and it'll be even less of one 20 yrs from now especially with everyone having pics online and growing up in some degree to the public eye. Are grad schools and employers going to ban everyone? Seems unlikely. I do think their may be some reactionary backlash, but in the long run I doubt anyone will care.
This is a wonderful, feed, Mary.

Very much enjoyed your's of Valentine's Day, 'Juicy Melted Butter Love'---well you know, exceptional!
The comments are often for enjoyable than the daily O.P. post? Statistical?
No prove?

Perhaps Open Salon can have a No New Post Day, and only allow Reader to

By the way, I know the Lady in the middle of the photo is not one of your lovely,
She's Kathy?
In high school,
In Biology class,
Student went so ape.
Folk were fascinated.
Sex was a Virginal word.
No one mentioned vegan.
To calm down we had fruit scones.
No one owned a Volvo automobile.
We parked in lover lane in pickups.
After a waffle cone we studied texts.
Civics, geography, math, Hiroshima,
politico's collaboration in Criminal acts.
Shakespeare's cliff (notes?) tower-bridge,
Awakening. A grain seed dies in the Earth's soil,
"unless a seed enter death, it never will sprout."
O virginal pure? Impossible. What's purity? huh.
dark, moist, abundant possibilities, and a real Life.
Hart Crane wrote of life's paradigm in:`The Bridge.'
Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to the parapets,
Tilting there momentarily, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan. Hart Crane.
I am sure the one in the middle of the photo is (Kathy) Valerie.
A distant, familiar, sister? We 'made-out' in a barn full of straw.
Healing is impossible in perpetual loneliness. Who's a specialist?
Then we bawled? Got dizzy as two 'mad dogs' spoke of Virginity,
Infinity, boundaries, geology, space, energy, Love and Innocent?
Then we ate ice cream while it was still on the plate.`Wilderness.
I hope I don't forget your birthday? Who can comprehend Birth?
I always remember Oct. 22, too. Wails, sparks, travail, wow wows!
In bible class, assert that Goldilocks may have been misunderstood.
Gads. My Lent absolution comes post-eating, good 'Breyers' flavors.

Ya Yippee. Yummy,
O scream`ice cream.
I never am real sure.
She looks like Kathy!
This is so needed!
Just digged you, girl!
I think they do it because they think it's what men want and they are competing for men. It is instinctive behavior. If they do not "win" they do not get to become mothers--and one day--the crones who represent the highest values of the society. This is not to say a woman who does not have children cannot become a crone.
Let me amend that a little: I think they are doing it to "attract" men, so they can then choose among those men which they think are worthy husbands, or to use the more crass term: mates. "Sexiness" is the come on. Didn't you do it? It is women who deny their own instincts who have been co-0pted. I think this falls under the parameters of "normal" behavior--especially when it is done in groups so it is "contained." I'll bet most of them participating will never do it again. It is an unwritten ritual. I don't think it's going to end anytime soon, though it is a mature woman's place and role to temper it.
Couple more things.

All of the girls in the photos you posted LOOK LIKE THEY'RE HAVING A GREAT TIME. They're smiling. They're laughing. Their eyes are shining. They aren't faking a good time to look cool or trying to prove something to a guy or any of what has been posited here...they're drunk and having a blast. And I have a really hard time condemning people for having fun when there is no obvious harm involved.

This is why I detect a serious undercurrent of puritanism in these comments. Whenever a group of people is outraged over another group who appears to be having great fun, and the first group has to go to great lengths to articulate some vague and non-concrete reasons that they're allegedly bothered by the fun, I get suspicious.

Here's the deal: these people aren't trying to convey a message with these photos. They aren't code for "I'm a lesbian" or "I give blowjobs indiscriminately" or whatever you're worried about. They're clowning around. That's all. They're supposed to be funny. I swear, it's true.

In my collection of party photos, I easily have half a dozen photos of GUYS in the faux-blowjob pose. And these are grown, professional men. But when you're taking photos at a party, people naturally get into funny poses. "Porny" poses are one of them. I have just as many photos of guys in faux-gay porn poses as I do of women. These aren't really any different from making an ugly or funny face for a photo. I realize that to many of you, they are different because you are apparently offended at overt joking around about sex, but I don't think the subjects of the photos are drawing that distinction.

Last, I can't help but notice how many comments here are of the "boy it was so much harder to get laid when I was a kid variety." Most of these comments really seem to boil down to anger that women are no longer acting as sexual gatekeepers. I think some of you may want to examine exactly why that bothers you so much, and whether or not jealousy has any role to play.
Bill E.

"they insist on making it easy"

I think you are getting it wrong. These young ladies are not making it easy for anyone, they are simply power-tripping all over the young men (and anyone else within sight, such as yourself at the casino table). No wonder the young men respond by being slackers, stoners and trying to suppress their own feelings. What else can they do?

Kryptogal, don't put down who do not or did not get any of this imaginary people are seeing in the photos. They (or should I say "we") really do not deserve that type of abuse.
Does no one see the irony of this piece being in SALON, where the resident expert is staffer Tracy Flory-Clark, who wrote just a few months ago about her healthy, happy, beneficial lifestyle of constant hookups, which she stated were wonderful, sexually satisfying growth experiences? Also how she learned all about sex from watching hard core porn on the internet starting at AGE FOURTEEN, with her parent's approval (they were ex-hippies, ergo boomers)? How her first sexual encounter at age sixteen (two years post hard core porn) was "as-PORN-ational" (her own invented word and capitalization), because having learned all about sex from pornography, she was eager to put it into action?

I am just as concerned about young men being exploited in all this as I am about girls -- it's not about sexism or wanting to protect girls, it is wanting to see some humanity, some emotion, some romance attached to sex and not have people degraded into a pack of wild bonobos. What's next? Slinging poop at each other? We are inadvertently teaching young people that sex is a commodity, you were born to exploit it, that youth is so tantalizing and irresistible than you CAN exploit it (at least for a decade or two) and that experience...whether a vacation or graduation or drunken frat REAL AND AUTHENTIC unless you capture it on film and promote it. Andy Warhol's sad little prediction about 15 minutes of celebrity.

Much of what is described here has less to do with female sexuality or Facebook than it does to...ALCOHOL ABUSE. Most of the participants are drunk -- they drink to lower their inhibitions because otherwise they would NOT drop their underwear, stick out their tongues or expose their breasts/genitals. What is sad is a society where you can't have fun, where you are a loser, IF YOU ARE SOBER. Teens are known scientifically to have less brain development in the area of impulse control -- therefore, laws restricting them from alcohol make sense. But we wink at these laws, we broke them ourselves (some of us) and we often allow teens to use alcohol in our homes, because we rationalize "it's better than if they went someplace unsafe, or drink and drive".

One entirely correct commentator said that we have such low expectations of kids -- never lower. Most upper-middle class kids do not even have to work part time anymore. We are so obsessed with their success in school that we want them studying all the time; no need for a job. Also a job would cut into "study time" and hey, they don't need the money. What help would a few thousand dollars be anyhow, when colleges cost $100K plus for four years? We put them under huge pressure to succeed, and they then need to "vent" in explosive ways -- drunken parties, drugs, promiscuous sex (yes, I mean boys too). This acts as release valves for over-pressured kids who still really have no responsibility in life, no direction, no moral compass...just BE A HUGE SUCCESS, get into the right college, make big bucks.

Porn and sluttiness, for girls, WORKS -- in a crude superficial way. It DOES get boys attention...for a while. Fatherless girls are often almost crazed to get male attention. They see that their moms were rejected by dad, or have trouble dating, because of their age and less-desirable sexuality (by harsh societal standards) -- but THEY, teen girls, are lionized...they are the standard of beauty...yes at 11, 12, 13...our culture prefers the body and face of a Miley Cyrus to an adult woman's body and face. So you have very little time, you must exploit your "assets" while you can.

We are teaching both boys and girls to value superficial success over human relationships and family -- go to a fancy college and get rich! have an impressive order to accomplish big things, you must postpone love and family and kids for many years, into your 30s. This is frustrating and lonely -- again, the outlet is drunken partying, "having fun", no-strings sex, polyamory -- anything to keep the loneliness at bay.

How much of this would go on without the fuel of alcohol? Think about it. How much of this would go on without the omnipresent pornography, especially the type that objectifies and degrades women (hint: there is no such erotica for women, hence to see sexual images they must view MALE oriented porn!)?

How much of this would go on if CHILDREN (11, 12, 13, 14) did not have cell phones with cameras? Why do they need cell phones -- we justify it by obsessing they will be kidnapped (yeah and the kidnappers will give them time to make a hurried phone call back to mom and dad!). Why do they need their own computer in their bedroom and full internet access? Parents are clueless and in denial about what their kids are doing; they think they are studying when they are addicted to Facebook and MySpace. Most parents I know will not admit their kids drink to excess; one told me she knows her 15 year old has "had some beers" but she's positive her angel would never get drunk.... The same mom allows co-ed sleepover parties in her house; "they aren't doing anything because we are right upstairs!" Yeah, right...and Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

I recommend the book "Pornified" for anyone who has an interest in this subject in a larger context. It opened my eyes.
Laurel962 saud;

We are inadvertently teaching young people that sex is a commodity, you were born to exploit it, that youth is so tantalizing and irresistible than you CAN exploit it (at least for a decade or two)

Very well put, Laurel. This is at the core of the matter. I dunno that it is inadvertent, though. It may simply be base instinct when all regulation is gone.
Did y'all miss the 60's?? How about Goldie Hawn on Laugh-In? Sorry the the internet is catching every kids crazy behavior, but it WAS there before this wonderful invention.. just not for national exposure..

This medium has created a new mean (average), but don't think lessons will not be learned. This article sounds like the old.. world is going to hell rattle.

Sexuality has been displayed since early Greeks civilization and before. Kids aren't gonna let you stop their basic human functions.. hormones will explode no matter how much you pretend that it's "just not happening..."

But yes, I agree that family rules must be put in place and decorum established. Just don't assume missteps (in the name of fun) won't occur as well... after all, the best comedians do seem to curse a bit too.

Oh yeah and as for the "world of work"? They're posting too. Lighten up.
Laurel962 wrote: order to accomplish big things, you must postpone love and family and kids for many years, into your 30s. This is frustrating and lonely -- again, the outlet is drunken partying, "having fun", no-strings sex, polyamory -- anything to keep the loneliness at bay.

This may be somewhat correct, but I think it misses the more important picture:

The postponement of "love and family" is entirely voluntary. Many women do this simply because they *can*. Their 20s are spent in Manhattan bars trying to land a one-night-stand with that proverbial guy on the top of the pyramid, while the men they actually deserve (their equals, as it were) are completely ignored.

Their 30s are spent watching sex-and-the-city and still dreaming of mr impossible. The rest of their lives are spent in loneliness, all due to their own errant choices.
It would not be so bad if they were the only ones suffering, but all of mankind is suffering with them.
More comments that were read and appreciated. To reiterate where I'm coming from on this: As a therapist, I see the suffering that arises from people's choices and behaviors. As a mother of 4 children and family therapist, I am witness to the rise of STD's, eating disorders (rampant now in middle school girls), mothers dyeing their daughter's hair at 6 and shaving their legs at 9. Stores that sell padded bras to pre-pubescent girls. 13 year olds addicted to their cell phones. Read the research. This ain't the 60's. Technology is presenting challenges that are new to everyone.

Stella, I appreciate your coming in with a couple of comments. You and I have very different opinions about this. We're all throwing out theories here and time will play this out. Young women may become older women who will be questioning their parents lack of involvement in their lives. After suffering with STD's, eating disorders and alcoholism, they may start questioning some of their decisions. And they may not. Obviously, this post was the perfect post in the sense that it has stirred up a lot of conversation and discourse.

If one takes the time to reread my post, I'm asking more questions than answering them. Being honest when I say "I don't get it", and yes, throwing out a judgment in the sense that honestly I cannot stand seeing beautiful young women demean themselves. I took most of the pictures out, but I have 4 children in their 20's and a step-daughter who is 15. Between my personal experience and my professional, I am concerned. I am not prone to be an over-reactive person (don't ask my husband if this is true). And it will be interesting to see how all of this plays out or amounts to a great big zero.

Stella, Facebook started out as a site for college students. I certainly didn't join to be some kind of voyeur to a younger generation.

Facebook has morphed into a site for professionals and the largest number of people joining Facebook are over 40 years old. I have felt uncomfortable with my children's friends "adding me as a friend" because I really don't want to see this stuff. I have decided, after reading all the comments, to remove them as "friends". I agree that they should be allowed to have their own private playground and I don't want to be privy to it.

My post was not intended to single out young women only. But looking through hundreds of these Facebook pictures, the boys seem to be very passive. But since I have 2 boys, I'm sure there is plenty of material for me to write a post about my concerns about the young men of this generation.

What has not been addressed enough for my own taste is the sexualization of younger girls starting in the 5th and 6th grades. Can we have some guidelines here? Can there be some boundaries? Childhoods have been lost. I think that's problematic.

Laurel had some great comments that I resonated with. Especially her pointing out the use of alcohol involved in these pictures. She is spot on when she says they go hand in hand. And that is a whole another topic.

I will say that I am continuing to reflect on everything that has been written. Always good for the brain to get rattled from time to time.
I have a difficult time applying the words 'pathetic' and 'desperate' to *any* woman. I am 45, and I've heard it applied to my cohort so many times for so many things - jeans too tight, heels to high, makeup too bright? Oh, look how sad and pathetic she is. Plastic surgery? Oh yes, you are desperate to catch a man, pathetically trying to regain your youth.

The judgements rain down. Everyone wants to tell a woman what is appropriate, it seems. The leading glossies' best selling issues are the ones that tell women what to wear to be appropriate 'at any age!" Oprah has a nice older gay man that regularly instructs women of a certain age what is appropriate - I well remember his little diatribe against shorts on any women over 40 ...a big no no, apparently, because in HIS view, most women over 40 have legs that are 'absolutely horrifying!'

Let's reverse that for a minute. Let's take an aging lesbian, put her in the same shiny leather blazer and overpluck her eyebrows and give her a column in, say GQ, and have her tell men what is appropriate for them to wear, and how not to look horrifying as they age. I picture this imaginary scenario, then I picture the imaginary readers flipping her a not-so-imaginary bird and wearing whatever the hell they damn want.

I feel extremely uncomfortable hearing people say "I'm glad I have boys!" or, "I dread when my girls are this age" or "I'll kill any guy that comes near by girl; she won't date til she's 30!" What message are we sending to girls?! That they are a pain in the ass, troublesome, not worth it, not 'easy', a danger to themselves, a danger to the reputation of the family, a danger to society itself. That we value them only when they are easy, controllable. No wonder they contort themselves this way and that, always wanting to be thinner, more pleasing, the sweet one, the good one, the one no one talks about. And when they are ready to burst out of this box and act crazy silly sexy for awhile, we tsk tsk and say, why can't you respect yourself? Don't you see you are just a puppet of the media, the pop stars, the desires of boys?

I give girls more credit than that. And more slack. Young people are supposed to be dumb. It's practically their job. If they knew everything already, they'd be born 45 (maybe I should up that to 50, since I am 45 and do not yet know everything, only most things).

I can't get behind the outcry to somehow force girls to conform to what is ladylike and appropriate - to me, this is a measurement on the same ruler that has the "she got raped because she was asking for it, did you see how she was dressed" trope. The idea that a woman can 'cause' antisocial behavior by the way she is dressed, by the way she acts 'too sexy' is an idea that needs to be put out to pasture. "She was wearing a halter top, your honor - I had no choice but to assault her!"

The world contains anti-social elements - of course. Girls and women must learn to navigate these. But the key is - it's up to girls and women to navigate these. Restricting their dress and actions through censure and shaming will not eliminate crimes against women. It will not ensure respect of women, either. I can think of a few places where women are ALWAYS dressed 'appropriately'. Those places like to stone women, for the sake of the family honor.

I look at these pictures and I do not see anything sad or desperate or pathetic or degrading. I see juicy life. I see beautiful girls awkwardly trying out their sexuality. I see lovely faces and bodies. I see carefree happiness. Most of all I see youth, flaming youth.

This behavior is not the product of technology and the pornification of the culture. I was a relatively mild teenager - a few good friends, straight As, academic and athletic scholarships, worked 40+ hours a week from the day I turned 16. I had serial boyfriends, all lasting 1-2 years - no casual hook ups for me. And I still managed, with all of this responsibility, to have my drunken fun, act sexy and stupid, get an STD, get my heart broken, and have anorexia too...all without benefit of Facebook, MySpace, Britney, or cell phones.

This behavior is not new. It is as it ever was, and ever shall be, world without end, amen. It is not caused by Britney any more than it was caused by Elvis. Those pop figures arise from the pack as much as lead it.

Women in boxes, women in boxes - it seems we must always be putting women in boxes, ,making sure they dress and act appropriately. And who knows what is appropriate? Why, everyone but the women themselves - Bill O'Reilly knows. Church leaders know. Older people know. Oprah's gay fashion columnist knows. More magazine knows. So many people to tell us what's what.

I see no harm in these pictures. If I could tell these girls anything, I would tell them, enjoy yourselves, because this time passes quickly and soon enough it will be time to put away childish things. Enjoy your beauty, enjoy your youth. Act silly and be sexy. Learn about sex. Explore the world, and learn who you are and who you want to be. Be kind, be generous with your happiness and energy and self. Be careful, be safe. Have fun.
mary! sorry I hiajacked your comments! I got carried away thinking out loud. It is a good topic, obviously something much on the minds of many. Thanks for bringing it up. I hope it was OK to share thoughts that seem to be somewhat against the tide. I am certainly not judging those who have different viewpoints - to each is own.
Sandra, never apologize for "hijacking my comments". Many people felt strongly about the subject of this post and many of the comments could have been full blown posts themselves. I always appreciate your feedback.

As for the pictures, I removed most of them because as Donna Sandstrom pointed out to me, if I felt the pictures were degrading to women, then I was part of the problem by posting them here.

All I can say is that I think if I showed you all the pictures I have access to and the FREQUENCY of these pictures, year after year, I think I would be surprised if you did not start to share the same unease I feel. I had 4 teenagers at once so perhaps I have been inundated with this for years as well as the suffering I see in my practice, but I'm still not buying that this is some normal rite of passage for young women.

Eating disorders are at an all time high for young women, alcohol and drug abuse is starting at earlier and earlier ages. I really think it's okay to ask oneself, "Is this a red flag or this just normal?"

At its essence, this was what my post was about. I certainly inserted parts of myself (and my ego) that judged some of this behavior as "desperate". However, realistically, just because someone is a woman or a man, this does not make them exempt from "desperateness".

I live in a college town. In my work with college women, I can only say that they are more than willing to admit that they do not feel good about these behaviors. I'm no researcher so I'm not saying this to "prove" anything. It's just my experience over and over again that when young women are focusing on developing their true inner strength, their inner cores, they start to make different choices for themselves. For most of them, this includes not getting wasted and exhibiting sexual behaviors that are not congruent with them.

I also see that the word "lady" or "ladylike" behavior was construed to mean submission and repression. This was the last thing I was meaning and was saying this more tongue in cheek. The more ideal word would denote a woman of strength, independence, self-reliance, and self-respect.
I would amend the honorable M. Chariot about one thing. The sexuality of the males, as they are being raised by more and more mothers who are more invasive and demanding that they adhere to female values are becoming "softer" and less likely to act out than are the girls. Also, since respect for male bonding and lineage becomes less the males become more "sensitive."

We are watching the roles reverse themselves. The sexes are going in the opposite directions.
RE: MySpace--I have a music page on MySpace and have a number of younger friends. I have never seen anything like this there. I'm not saying it doesn't exist, it just doesn't characterize the kind of social networking that goes on there accurately.
I have always kept a close eye on my kids. Not because I don't trust them, but because I've been there already and know the pitfalls. As far as I know, the older one does not have a Facebook or Myspace account; but then again, I haven't asked (might have to ;-D).

My daughter has been taught how to dress appropriately by her mom and I. we let her pick out clothes for herself within reason, and are not afraid to put our collective foot down on things that are not age-appropriate.

So, I partly agree with Edgar that parents need to stop being so self-centered and start paying attention to their kids; and on the other hand, parents need to be mindful that their kids need a certain amount of freedom in order to grow. A tightrope to walk with no nets, but that's what being a parent is about.

Ben: I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your perspective and your 3 different comments. A lot of truth to what you are saying, especially in regards to the role reversals.

Steve: I'm not familiar with MySpace. This is good to hear.

Bill S: You have always struck me as a person who is very balanced in all areas of your life. I'm not surprised this extends to your parenting...lucky children.

deepclev: Thanks so much for your comment. It is especially valuable because it's not so much your opinion as it is your experience. Very helpful.
An online social network and people. Put the two together. The people want to be creative, but we do not have the traditional methods of creativity--instead we have an open forum and each tries to outdo as well as imitate the others. Instead of offering a new generation of hairstyle and dress, there are online appearances--pictures with poses and handsigns, favorite music and bios, adding up large numbers of friends showing popularity, displays of favorites, comments and cute graphics. The book from years ago, Medium is the Massage, is still on target today. Written pre computer and cell phone it described some of the consequences of changes in communication. And yet outside this online world, this imaginary world of pictures and friends, there is an alternate reality of everyday life, global threats and problems, work and play, competing with our play time, our fantasy friends and pictures, our alternate selves. Perhaps the Invasion of the Body Snatchers has occurred, but instead of pods that imitate our bodies and create emotionless copies, we have computerspace selves with online emoticons and altered values, a distorted image of who we wish to be.
Oh, c'mon everyone...where would you be if you were 15 in 2009? The library? The embroidery club? Or mass "sexting" (don't ask) all your friends of friends courtesy of your parents' friends & family cellphone plan?

I agree, it ain't pretty - but, in its day, neither was grinding along to Elvis. Plus ca change...
It's the coming of age ritual - how daring are you, how far will you go to prove you're "one of us", or to keep your mate? It's gaining credibility within the peer social network - the same as it's always been, but now everything is so visible, and everyone's one-uping each other.

I think there's a lot of depression riding along with all that false frivolity. I always viewed my wild phase in college as another social obligation, like prom. The message sent from so many sources is that if you aren't wild and crazy in your teens and twenties, you'll regret it later.

Sexually molested children tend to act overly sexualized because they feel it's expected. It's important not to demonize them. Same principle applies here. These kids were exposed to way too much way too soon. Growing up with Girls Gone Wild commercials, Jerry Springer, and "reality" shows is a far cry from what most of us grew up with.
i love the first line of this post. gave me a good chuckle.

and it did seem slightly odd to me at first that they wanted to friend their friend's mom, but i can see that, too. you're a cool lady: lots of kids want to friend cool adults.

i had a completely opposite reaction to most of the pack, though. we did a lot of crazy things when i was in college, too. we didn't post them on the web, because it didn't exist, and we didn't even post them on the dorm walls, which did.

so there is a big change: not necessarily in the wild behavior, but in how public we are about it. the web really did change that, by changing the entire way kids think about private/public boundaries.

i get the concern about how these girls will feel 20 years from now when the pix still exist, but keep in mind that that will be in a world 20 years from now, where the boundaries we grew up with are completely changed.

if you're thinking how embarassed you would be right now at the age of 40 (or whatever) in 2008 to have these pix from when you were 20, that's a completely different question. in 2028 . . . whole different world.

the bigger issue sounds like the shorter term brought up here: when they graduate in 2-3 years and employers see them. not a great thing--but probably not as bad as you might think. if this truly is a huge phenom, with a majority of college kids doing it, then employers will see most applicants doing it, and it becomes the new reality.

to me, the big thing is not to lament what has happened to this generation. every generation is appalled by some of what they see in the one that follows. (yes, bob dylan was talking to his parents' generation. so was every poet that ever lived, practically.)

the world is different, so dive in and understand why. the fewer judgments, the easier to understand.
I appreciate the many comments here, and your most recent comment, Dave, that was so thoughtful and much appreciated. I've thought about this post a lot. Harry the Homeless was persistent with me feeling that my post was somewhat "out of character" for me. I realized he was right. Dave, you touched on this by mentioning the "judgment" towards these young women. And for that I am guilty. Ego can be a bitch. I realized that the post was indeed out of character for me, at least the me that I want to present to the world. This post was written from the ego and not the heart. I re-read it several times and cringed with my judgments, i.e. describing these girls as pathetic, desperate.

My post was more of a rant than a compassionate earnest look at a phenomenon I do find disturbing. The early sexualization of pre-adolescent girls concerns me as a mother and a therapist. I have young women in my practice who have regrets and struggles along these lines. They are struggling with eating disorders and low self-esteem. Some of these young women may do this out of rebellion and self-expression. And some from places of woundedness followed by regret.

As for the job market, this is a real concern. All of my children are in their 20's and they know first hand the effects of employers who are making it a practice to check out their applicant's Facebook pages. 60 Minutes did an episode on this a couple of years ago. The job market is extremely competitive, especially for those just entering it and it would bode well for everyone to make sure that the best "them" is represented to the outside world.

Anyway, I appreciate the responses this post illicited and think that going to either extreme would be a mistake. One extreme says "kids will be kids" and the other extreme judges and demeans the actions of these women. Coming from a place of reason and empathy is always the best way to go.
thanks, mary.

i hope my response didn't end preachy. i didn't mean it that way. i was just thinking that yeah, there's a lot of troubling stuff going on here, but . . .

parents were also appalled by elvis. the network would only film him above the waist, because he moved his hips too much--what a big whore! (that's how they felt. it was indecent for America to see.)

they thought the whole rock 'n roll thing was horrifying and/or sinful or noise, and would pass quickly.

later we had david bowie, the sex pistols, prince, madonna, and a ton in between. each one shocked many people.

so is that evidence of a continual slide toward decadence, or an evolving openness toward sexuality, or just gyrations in random directions, with each generation appalling their parents and then taking their place as the appalled party a few years later?
Whoa....Sandra...thank you, thank you, thank you.

I wish I could just copy and paste your reply a thousand times, quote for m-f'ing truth, as it were.

Women are not the gatekeepers and avatars of social decency, people! It is Not. Our. Fucking. Job. to make sure that the pearls of the world don't get clutched!
Interesting, too, that several posters mention men as the root of the problem--but then conveniently excuse them from providing a solution.

Men objectify women and are giant sexist assholes! Therefore, women must keep their legs shut. Why is the solution not, "men must stop being shitheads"?
Well,What?: Oh, poor, poor! The women who CHOOSE to post obnoxious, obcence photos/videos online , are so OBJECTIFIED !

Give me a break, how about women AND men owning up to their behavior and making responsible choices, eh?

Thank you for posting this article and please do not apologize for it.
ms. kelly...thank you for sharing...keep getting invited to facebook and have not felt the need, so far...perhaps this is instead of fighting against the viet nam war?...teens need to do their rebellious thingy, yeah? you must know that well, being a therapist. as a touchy/feely girly, still...i am a "prude," like one needs photos...words, maybe, not must use imagination...and america being such a babe in arms country, we are still so uptight about sex that we go in the opposite direction, flaunting it, reducing it to crumbs, instead of cake...taking away its beauty and meaning, methinks. i have faith that someday we'll get over this nonsense and relax about it all...and we'll think of sex as a fantastic, extraordinary, loving experience and not make that much of it, in public. there's the rub...making it okay in our hearts and heads, so that it isn't everyone else's business and we are mucho okay with that.
Gypsy, good to see you again! I LOVED your comment. I wish I had been able to express what I was saying so articulately. Your comment resonated with me. I especially loved this, "we are still so uptight about sex that we go in the opposite direction, flaunting it, reducing it to crumbs, instead of cake." Well said!
Yeah! This is outrageous! What would really make your point is more pictures!
If you folks really want to get depressed, take a look at the promotional ads for the reality show "Toddlers and Tiaras" on TLC, apparently all about the quest for fame and glory on the kiddie beauty pageant circuit. Based on the promo's, I wouldn't dream of asking anyone actually to watch the show itself and I've studiously avoided it myself. How anyone could bear the sight of tiny little girls barely out of diapers, slathered in makeup and dressed in miniature Vegas showgirl getups, being tutored in the fine art of shaking that money thing is utterly beyond me.
I just wrote an article about how Britain is cool with Prince William marrying Kate Middleton, who has flashed her girl muffin ala Britney while getting into a cab drunk, after reporters found out she's been taking him to Spain to meet her drug dealer/pimp uncle. This is the ROYAL FAMILY! Paragons of grace and decorum! If this is how the role models are behaving, how can expect ordinary, young girls to act any better? I agree this whole thing is troubling and sad.
This is back on the feed! Some interesting new comments. Here's my re-take. The sexualization of pre-adolescent girls is of course disturbing, but these girls pictured on FB are not pre-adolescent. They are at a fairly typical age when sexual expression and exploration begin. And though Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem are figures of the feminist movement, the were, also, Barbarella and a Playboy Bunny, respectively. So I am not so sure about the grave thing.

I like Dave Cullen's comment. I think as attitudes about sexuality open more and more, we will see less and less of the "cartoonish acting out" that we see on FB. When it's no longer shocking, people don't want to do it.
I was surprised to see this up on the feed again. I had regretted a few of what for me were out of character catty comments. I could go back and delete and rewrite, but it would muddy and confuse the subsequent comments. Clearly, it's a generational thing and perspectives are different. I have clients in this age group and I do not judge or condemn them or their facebook book pictures. However, I will continue to be honest when I say that many of the pictures bother me. I continue to cringe. Having a son work for an on-line reputation defender gives me another point of view. He works for a company that is thriving spending their time getting stuff like these pictures off the internet. It does affect employment and these are tough economic times. Take a look at this from

"You have a bullet-proof resume, stellar references, and you just aced the interview with the HR manager for the job you really, really want to get. But you don’t get it.

Who knew that sharing would come back to bite you and leave a huge black mark on your job application? After all, we all grew up being reminded over and over that sharing is a good thing.

Well, it turns out some companies are now using social networking sites to check out job candidates. And social media has made it easier than ever for big brother to keep tabs on us.

According to a study conducted by, 22% of 31,000 employers surveyed said they search social networks to screen candidates. And one-third of those said they found information on sites like Facebook and MySpace that eliminated candidates from consideration.

Have a look at the top areas of concern those employers found on social networking sites:

• Information about alcohol or drug use (41% of managers said this was a top concern)
• Inappropriate photos or information posted on a candidate’s page (40%)
• Poor communication skills (29%)
• Bad-mouthing of former employers or fellow employees (28%)
• Inaccurate qualifications (27%)
• Unprofessional screen names (22%)
• Notes showing links to criminal behavior (21%)
• Confidential information about past employers (19%)

Maybe posting those pics of your latest inebriated romp showing you in a, well, compromised state, wasn’t such a good idea?

Universities and colleges have become aware about the new practice and are now counseling students to be more cautious. Northwestern University in Chicago started over a year ago after one career services staffer was baffled why an outstanding student with a GPA above 3.7 couldn’t get an internship interview. When questioned, the employer simply said, “Have a look at her Facebook.”

The study found that employers in the media, professional services and finance industries were most likely to go online to check out candidates’ profiles with more than 35% admitting to the practice. Among the least likely were charity and retail industries, with just 8% and 7% of companies respectively going on sites like Facebook to check out applicants."

It will be interesting to see how this generation feels in 5 or 10 years, or when their children are teenagers. One thing is more than likely to be sure....they will have their own new sets of concerns for their children and like any generation will say, "What the heck are they thinking???"
Yes Neil, I know I know I know. I wrote a subsequent post called "Ego is a Bitch" ( where I regretted some of my catty comments, something I think was not my typical style. Sometimes that Catholic school upbringing gets the best of me! I am still bothered by the pictures, but that's my trigger and I admit it. I think we were writing our comments at the same time btw!
Hey Mary,

Loved this post. So glad that it popped up again because I wasn't around when it was first posted. I can see why it's getting so much attention because it is articulating what so many of us have been feeling.

My friend Patty and her husband are taking care of a 9 year old girl and a 7 year old boy for the summer. She went shopping for some clothes for the girl and COULD NOT FIND any shorts that weren't tight, skimpy and designed to show all leg. She ended up buying her boys athletic shorts because that was the only appropriate thing she could find. How crazy is that?!

You know I love my Madonna, but I'm sure she's rolling around in her not yet grave knowing that she may have single-handedly sparked the "girl as proud slut" movement. And Britney Spears is perpetuating it. And every reality show on TV is selling it. Girls really don't stand a chance.

I weep for parents of girls growing up in this atmosphere. And to make things even worse, girls have become so horribly mean to each other, that if they DON'T fit into this stereotype, or act like brainless Jessica Simpsons, they are brutalized.

I don't have a daughter, but I'm getting worked up just thinking about it. Is it possible this is a temporary "coming out of the closet" for women anomoly that will eventually swing back to something more reasonable?

My 12 year old niece is so smart and so savvy and even she's starting to act like a nitwit to fit in - and she has fantastic parents. I'm really pissed.

Kind of Blue,

So true about the girls these days. A friend of mine had to explain oral sex (by another name) to her son, after her son had been propositioned by a girl to do this to him.


Unfortunately, "grinding" isn't a new thing. When I sponsored a dance when I taught middle school in 1998, I was warned to prevent grinding from happening.
i'm not sure you are on the right side of history. whatever reason women have for cultivating a 'slutty' image, is in large part a response to society's ambiance: sex sells, etc.

in any event, you are sliding off the stage, the next generation is setting it's patterns of behavior, and wallowing in sensuality is not the worst feature youth might have. beats the hell out of male oriented muscle and violence, for instance.

then there is the lively possibility in strait-laced america that much of it is simulated, even exaggerated just to outrage your generation.
That's why you hafta limit who you designate a friend on Facebook! I'm just on there to keep up with the kids and grandchild. But if I had ever seen my daughter like that on Facebook there would have been some kind of verbal butt-whoopin' going on!
aoafedotcom: Thanks for your comment. I didn't know about Prince William's girlfriend but I've never found the royal family to be the paradigm for healthy living! I wrote this in March and haven't thought about it for awhile, although I continue to see these pictures on the Facebook pages of my children's friends and relatives. I continue to cringe. It's difficult for me to normalize this given the increase in STD's and eating disorders among young women. And I think it would be unwise to discard these behaviors as normal. If there wasn't such an increase in suffering, it would be easier for me to buy.

Sandra: You make a great point about Steinem and Fonda which would invalidate my point about "them"...I wasn't really being specific to them personally but to what I felt was one of the intentions of feminism and that is not to have women being seen as sexual objects, but so much more. These Facebook pictures certainly do not reflect the intelligence and capability of these young women, and for that was more the reverence of the turning over in the grave.

That, coupled with the prospects of being employed, which is a real concern for any social networking (Open Salon not being immune btw...once our words are out there, they are out there), it would be good for all of us to understand the different implications and complications the Internet has brought to all of us.

KW: You and I are the same page about this and it was wonderful to talk to you today. I see the effects of this in my practice and the struggle of self-esteem, which is of course an age old issue. The best people to talk to about this is of course the young women themselves. Maybe I'll try to get in touch with some of them and do another just won't be scientific.

al loomis: I disagree with you but that's because I've lived in liberal Boulder, Colorado where parents are known to party with their own children. There's nothing straight laced about the way these young women were raised and I think that it's giving too much due to these women that they are doing this for shock value. I don't even think that must thought is being put into it. KW may have a very valid point that Madonna, etc. unwittingly brought on the "girl as proud slut" movement. Why do I get the feeling that many of these young women will be much stricter with their own children than we were with ours?

Walter: I'm adding you as a friend on Facebook! Thanks so much for reading and for commenting.
Hallelujah and praise the Lord! FINALLY... someone else besides me is fed up and disgusted with the way young women degrade and devalue themselves. Dr. Phil hit it right on the nose when he said that women are the gatekeepers. His advice? CLOSE YOUR LEGS!

Seriously, I don't think there's one absolute thing you can blame this on, and there won't be one absolute thing that will bring back decency and decorum.

Great entry. RATED!
Alcohol and reality TV. Then add a digital camera or a webcam and you've got a disaster in the making. Young girls wanting to imitate what they see as stardom. It's a shame to see all this going on, and scary with a daughter just turning into a teen.
"And though Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem are figures of the feminist movement, they were, also, Barbarella and a Playboy Bunny, respectively. So I am not so sure about the grave thing."

Whoa! Steinem went undercover as a Playboy Bunny to write an expose of how they were treated in the Playboy clubs when those clubs were considered the coolest thing going in the mid-60's. This was in pre-Ms. magazine days, when she was an investigative journalist for New York and other mags, and it was pioneering piece of journalism on how women were being treated like meat even during the supposed "sexual revolution". If you read it (it's in her first collection of essays) it's a blistering piece, and Playboy retaliated against her for it for many years, including by spreading the rumor that she was a "real" Bunny - I'm sad to see that that disinformation has taken hold and tarnished her reputation.

Now Fonda's a different story. She's done a lot for women but up through her marriage to Ted Turner, the way she lived her life always made me boggle at her being considered a feminist icon. And she basically said the same thing about herself in her auto-bio a few years ago - that she was in her 60's or so before she finally figured out that she did whatever the current man in her life wanted her to do, even when it went against her principles or desires, from Vadim (Barbarella) to Turner. This was not news to many of us women who've observed her over the years....
I think it's just because your daughters friends are sluts. I have all my real friends on facebook and none of them have ever done that to even have a photo to even post.

The other possibility is it's an American thing, because me and my friends are not American.

But I'm sure there are plenty on lovely, non slutty American girls. Maybe you just need to face the fact that your daughter is hanging out with sluts.
i hate fb's slowing becoming the next myspace...WTF!!! all these people taking pictures of's self voyeurism... they just need to move themselves to porn sites like redtube or whatever those other sites are...

ok...i'll admit.. i love porn..hahah!!! all the way!!!!!!!!!!!
Takes a village to raise an idiot. Check out what is in the stores and on the ads (and all TV shows are ads). At home here we just dealt with the V pic thing with a fourteen year old. We convinced her to pull it down - the main convincing came from her nineteen year old sister.
oh, how i hate the tongue look. great post.
Thank you. I look at my 14 year old neice's MySpace and it makes me pretty ill... pics of her with her mouth slack in oral sex position with "69" written on her forehead. WTF? I teach 9th graders and this is the norm. Parents seem afraid (and yes this includes my sister, who has "done everything" and "taken away everything" yet my neice still walks around with her cell phone and the pics are still up) to step up and do anything. Sad. Sad. Sad. And why oh why if these girls are doing this, do they indeed want to share it with their parents, aunts, etc. Doesn't this just really say they see nothing wrong with their behavior? What have we done?
You should do what I do and just ignore anyone under 40.
The most liberal blog in the known universe and you people are all shell shocked at the state of the youth that YOU created.

You're all pining for virtue yet you do everything you can to denigrate the very source.

Here is my 20 yer old daughter and 18 year old sons MySpace links.

No puckers or porn stars here........Just good old wholesome Christians. Be jealous.
My teen-aged niece is from a very strict Christian home. She left her good home and is living with friends now because she thought her parents was too strict (she found her new friends on Facebook, btw-scary! My aunt and her classmates were abused by Christian ministers for years. Being devout anything is not a barrier from the ills of the world.

My point is that 'bad things' happen to good people all the time, regardless of how you prepare. We have raised our son in a loving, structured home, both parents attentive and engaged and he still has hit the skids of rebellion at 14. We look at the bad things as life's challenges to overcome and strive to make the world a better place for our children and others children.
I remember what our parents said about *us.*

I've even heard what *their* parents said about *them.*

I try not to get too judgy, and take the long view. I'm amused to think what *our* kids will say about *theirs.*
Jeff, I totally see your point. And I've thought about this a lot. I work with a number of teen and college aged kids. They are teaching me about the reasons why they put pictures up like this, sext to one another, and generally view sex as something casual and "no big deal". However, as my children have entered into their twenties, they are becoming more conservative than I am! I will be interested to see how social researchers translate the effects of the Internet and technology as it relates to teenagers these days. Thanks so much for reading and your comment.
congratulations on getting cited on daily beast... "getting off on facebook"
I basically cant find a lot to argue with in your article, but the dailybeast article, I have to laugh at..... its ripe for satire.....
I do have one question for you.. what do the words "sex positive" mean to you, if anything?
This behaviour does not puzzle me but it does worry me. I often shake my head at the stupidity of people my age and younger. do we even read books anymore?
I'm a 26yo woman from New Zealand, I have photo's similar to what you are discussing, albeit relatively tame in comparison to most. I don't pose for photos like these anymore, but looking back I can tell you that the behavior exhibited in these photos is embarrassing to me in some ways. Embarrassing because I look back and think what a brainless trashy bimbo I look like, which I am not and also because I realise these photos are available for future employers to view. This worries me immensely. However, I'd like to attempt to explain the reason for the posing in the first place. First there is peer pressure - Well not so much pressure but the desire to be accepted, so we conform to what is perceived as the norm (Just check out any 'reality' TV show for what is apparently normal - Yes people do actually believe these shows are real!). Second there is alcohol, people lose their inhibitions when they drink. Third everyone wants attention, some of us just go about it in the wrong way.
This is concerning but essentially, as you point out, it is up to parents to do their job. I'm lucky I was raised well and have very few images like this compared to most, but what few I do have make me cringe at times.
Personally I feel the guidance starts in the home, just because one's children are young doesn't mean they are not absorbing information. Don't treat them like they are ignorant because of their age. Teach them from day one to make good healthy decisions and they will eventually turn out okay. Try not to judge them and try to be there for them so they are not afraid to turn to you if they need help. Most important of all treat them with respect and teach them to respect themselves. I hated it when I was a teen but I cannot thank my Mother enough today.
All I can say is God help us if we don't start addressing these issues in our own homes first.
Thank you Mary for finally saying what needed to be said.
Thanks for the great article here. I perfectly understand your concerns about facebook. Something crazy is happening there. However I don't like that comparing to pornstars. I mean it sound that porn star is a dirty job or something like that. I hate when people think like that. Of course it is wrong when underage girls are pretending to be them but if we are taking about grown up ones? It is their choice. I know many talented porn stars and they love their job. Few of them are five times more clever than those who graduated from the university. I am serious about that. I had a chance to meet Aletta Ocean in one show few years ago and I must say that she is a very clever and interesting person. If I would met her for the first time I wouldn't say that she is a porn star for sure. That's why I can't understand such discrimination. If people love their job - it is superb. What can be better? They are living a happy life. Sorry for such off topic. Facebook is a really horrible place for kids for sure. It is freaking me out sometimes. However we can't do anything about it. We won't be able to control it so let's just wait till it's popularity will finish. But.. Some other things will occur and I am sure that they will be harmful too. So let's just live and see how it goes in the future. Thanks for your post here!