Thursday, September 15, 2016

Hot and Sexy Girls on Facebook

Zoë Heller had an essay up at the New York Review earlier this summer, "‘Hot’ Sex & Young Girls."

The reason I'm posting it now is because I'm impressed with the response from Margaret Shea, a student at Brown University, who identifies herself at a "teenager" in her letter. It's very well written, "Go Directly to Facebook":
I cannot think of a single friend who, despite her seriousness and intelligence, has not grappled with the domineering presence and pressures of social media. There is no real neutrality or avoidance to be found for the members of my generation: even if we choose not to photograph, we are always being photographed. One either participates in the Instagram culture or is forced to take a stand in opposition to it: absence from social media is itself a sort of presence. Young women, even those who—as Peggy Orenstein might put it—watch alternative films, cannot escape the constant buzzing, beeping, and “tagging,” no matter how avid and sincere their cultural pursuits. Sales, Heller, and any other writer would be hard-pressed to overstate the extent to which young women are “trapped in the social media hive.”

I am loath to strip girls of their agency, and equally loath to side with the oft-hysterical media narrative about girls, their telephones, and their sex lives. It is of course condemnable to “underestimate the heterogeneity of teenage culture”—and I hope that my status as a teenage girl writing to The New York Review can offer some assurance of the sincerity of this condemnation. But I have yet to meet a single teenage girl whose sexual self-image, sexual life, and personal identity have not been challenged, shaped, or directed by the invasive power of social media and an accompanying, equally harmful desire to “self-brand” as an alluring figure.
Read the whole thing, at Ms. Heller's response, at the link.