“Dirty Girl” Culture: Good, Bad or Indifferent?

May 7, 2010 at 10:02 am | Posted in Sex | 1 Comment
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A friend of mine posts plenty of interesting article on Facebook all day, which results not only in distracting me from work more often than necessary (oops), but also plenty of good reads that I’m glad I came across.

One of those came up the other day: “In Defense of ‘Dirty Girl’ Culture” by Jaclyn Friedman.

You may have noticed from my previous post (or you may not have, whatever) that Jaclyn Friedman is one of my all-time heroes. She came and spoke on UMD’s campus and was the first one to truly affirming of how I was feeling when she flat-out and unequivocally said that revoked consent is just as imperative for a man to respect as non-consent in the first place.

In this article, in case you’re too lazy to read it (don’t be, though — it’s good!), she discusses “dirty girl” culture, such as Ke$ha and the like who promote (or at least display) a lifestyle of the “bad girl” in some manner. This has long been looked down on for many reasons, most of which are based in the Puritanical backdrop upon which American culture rests. (Remember, our first colonists weren’t escaping from England for religious pluralism — they were going for freedom to be Puritans, which were more restrictive than the predominantly Anglican society.) By the “proper” narrative, a girl should be friendly, but not overbearing; attractive, but not flaunting; sexually appealing, but not sexual. Anyone outside of these bounds risks being dubbed “dirty” in one way or another.

However, if a boy goes outside of those boundaries… well, boys will be boys, amiright? *nudge nudge*

So Ke$ha and the other “dirty girls” out there, from the Pussycat Dolls to Spice Girls to Britney Spears to that girl who sang at the coffee bar I went to last week with all the profane lyrics… what are they doing? Are they straying from the path of good and following the yellow brick road to evil ways? Or are they standing up for their right to be just as sexual, just as loud, and just as foul-mouthed as their brothers?

Or perhaps it’s a little bit of both — because sometimes, their lyrics are degrading to women. But sometimes, their lyrics can be empowering, too. Britney’s “Womanizer” sticks out in my mind. The video is sexy as all hell. And in some ways, it shows good ol’ Brit in some roles which extremist feminists would decry as “degrading”: she’s cooking in the kitchen for her boy, she’s naked and on display, she’s thrusting her body at the guy.

On the other hand, look at the lyrics, and the overall message.

Lollipop, you must mistake me for a sucker
To think that I would be a victim of another
Say it, play it, how you want it
But no way I’m never gonna fall for you, never you, baby.

She’s directly confronting the guy who treats women as sexual objects. She’s saying, “Hell yeah, I’m sexy. And hell no, I’m not gonna fall for your trap… unless I want to. But you can’t trick me: I’m no victim.” Britney isn’t a passive sex doll. She’s a woman with plenty of leg to stand on. She may have no problem opening up those legs when she wants to… but don’t you for one second think you’ve played her, because she may very well be playing you.

She’s saying that she likes sex just as much as the boys. But that doesn’t make her weak: in fact, it makes her stronger. She asserts that sex can be a woman’s domain, too. She’s saying that the men who think sex is a goal to be sought, and a woman’s body an object to be conquered, are “womanizers” and therefore not worthy of her attention. She’ll tease them, she’ll flaunt herself for them, but h-e-l-l no she’s not about to let that bastard touch her unless she makes the first move. She’s a dirty girl. But he’s a dirtier boy. And she wins this round, ding ding.

Sex is dirty. And sex is for girls. So what’s so wrong with a “dirty girl”? Why is a “dirty girl” so much worse than her male equivalent? Britney and Ke$ha both put up a blockade. Ke$ha will “smack him if he gettin’ too drunk, drunk” and starts “tryin’ to touch my junk, junk.” She can be dirty, but she can stand up for herself when a boy starts acting like an idiot. Britney has no problem calling out the guy for what he is: a womanizer who ain’t gettin’ none tonight from her, no matter how many tight-fitting costumes she drops in front of him.

So what are these “dirty girls”? Are they morally reprehensible figures who ought only be shown on TV after the youngsters have gone to bed? Or are they role models for how a girl can be sexual and strong? Or is there a happy medium?

What do you think?

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  1. I think labeling them “dirty girls” not only makes them better targets for critics, but might start causing them to enact the actual label when they’re not really dirty at all (maybe Ke$ha always uses a condom and doesn’t have one-night stands. We don’t know; it’s just not what it sounds like from her songs). It’s like labeling someone crazy. Do it long enough, and they’ll start living up to the label.

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