Dark undercurrents

Dark undercurrents of teenage girls’ selfies Date July 11, 2013 Olympia Nelson Pouty self-portraits have turned boy-girl relations into a cut-throat sexual rat race. Actor Miley Cyrus poses for a selfie. If social media only caused narcissism, it wouldn’t be the worst thing. Instagram and Facebook are social networks that not only breed narcissistic tendencies but transform relations into a sexual rat race. On these ubiquitous portals, the popularity of girls is hotly contested over one big deal: how sexy can I appear and bring it off with everyone’s admiration?

That’s the reason we see mirror shots, pouting self-portraits of teenagers (typically female) and sexually suggestively posed girls in a mini-dress ”before a party last night”. They’re showing how much they like themselves and hoping that you’ll hit ”like” to reinforce the claim. This isn’t just an interest in vanity but vainglory, being high up on a scale of ”likes” . There isn’t anything inherently wrong with uploading self-portraits. Everyone likes receiving compliments and it makes us feel awesome that our own appearance can provide us with an ego boost.

But what kind of photos produce an epidemic of ”likes? ” Nothing with too much creativity but hip, titty and kiss. It’s the true scourge of the selfie. Why are we girls competing to be the Queen of Pouts? Why do we scour through photos of celebrities and all our ambitious friends to find out who is the new princess of prurient poses? Even demure girls are tempted to strike sexually suggestive poses. But they must be careful, not because parents are looking but because they might not score any ”likes” and might then feel a failure, unworthy among their peers.

How confident can you appear at being lascivious? How credible is your air of lewdness? A girl who is just a try-hard will lose credibility and become an outcast. So a lot depends on how much support you can get from other girls. Girls zealously scroll down their Instagram or Facebook feeds. In Instagram, they might cleverly hashtag the most popular tags, such as #me, #selfie, #instacute to get an influx of ”likes” while they are on the most-recently tagged photos, then delete all the tags as though nothing’s happened. They’re manipulating their image into popularity. Girls spray their ”likes”.

They comment: ”Wow, you’re a model”; ”Oh my god you babe”; ”F–k you’re hot”; ”You’re perfect”; ”Best body”. Occasionally it’s genuine and supportive but it can also be very calculating. Girls fake flattery to get higher on the food chain. In my mind a comment such as, ”Oh my god, you’re so beautiful! ” really means: she has to ”like” and comment on my photo! Then behind her back: ”What the f—! She is such a slut … I heard she hooked up with heaps of guys and got really drunk at a party and in every photo she poses with her tits out and a push-up bra. ” It’s tense because it’s duplicitous.

We’re faking it, so that we get to be among the most popular, get to be ”liked” by the most popular and thereby gain popularity. Seeing some of these images can feel too intimate. It’s almost as though we’re peering through a window. Some photos may be of girls showing skin, or girls lying on a bed. Just about all are seeking some sort of approval from their friends. The aim is not to communicate joy but to score a position. It’s a neurotic impulse, not a happy one. I’m anxious that girls are higher up on the ladder than I am: boys are looking at her, not me. I have to look like her to be worthy of boys’ attention.

Boys’ tastes are not always sophisticated. The aesthetic yardstick is what they see in pornography. So girls have to conform to what boys see in pornography. And then girls post photos to ”out-hot” the other girls by porn star criteria. Who do we blame for this moral mess? As feminists, we correctly blame patriarchy because boys are securely at the top of the status game. Boys end up with the authority. They have their cake and eat it. From the moral high ground, they can damn a girl for visual promiscuity, yet enjoy the spectacle at the same time, both with the same misogynistic motives: I like your form but I’m able to scorn you.

You’re what I want but you’re less than me. Girls try to conform to this ”ideal” stereotype in their photos and these boys sarcastically comment, ”Nice personality” – really implying that the cleavage is their only attribute. Yet they also click the ”like” button. The boy who mocks a girl showing her cleavage is in fact the same boy who craves sexual opportunities with her. A common adult reaction to social media is to restrict things, as if that could ever be possible. You can’t force kids to be nice.

The real problem isn’t something tangible like sexting or bullying, which adults focus on in patronising and unimaginative ways. The real problem relates to conformity. Kids are compelled to act the stereotype, because those who opt out commit themselves to social leprosy. Social media doesn’t need adult control. What we need is some good taste. Olympia Nelson is a year 11 schoolgirl. 222 comments * nice article Olympia, those are the kind of insights which an older journalist would only be guessing at, keep up the good work ! Commenter Jesse Pinkman Location ABQ

Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:15AM * I think schools should scan facebook etc, and find the most grotesque and hideous and gravity defying selfies on the net, and then project them onto a wall at assembly, so everyone can have a good laugh at just how bad things can get. The practise needs to be disempowered. Commenter sarajane Location melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 11:59AM * I think that people who reply to the very first comment — but actually ignore that comment — purely so their comment can appear before everyone else who actually posted before them … hould be put to the end of the queue. I mean, are we stupid? Commenter Stupid Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:12PM * I agree, Stupid. This practice needs to be disempowered. Commenter Smart Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:24PM * Great article but we are misusing the word narcissism. Narcissism, in its really concerning clinical manifestation is a gap between a person’s self perception and reality. It is a form of delusion, ie the person thinks they are fantastically beautiful, smart, strong etc and they are objectively not.

Most girls who post pics on FB are well aware of what they really look like and that the pic they are posting makes them look thinner, prettier, bigger boobed etc than they really are. That’s one of the reason they post it. Of course that does not mean that posting these pics is not vacuous, vain, or just plain dumb. Commenter Sally Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:38PM * I’m with you Stupid. A pet hate of mine as well. Commenter Christos Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:42PM * This is a great example of what girls (or anybody) should be getting recognised / praised for – their efforts, not appearances.

Well done Olympia, you are good role model. Commenter Haha! Location Uranus Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:43PM * sarajane what your proposing is a form of bullying – you may not like, and feel it needs to change – but you can’t bully people in to changing – its not illegal what they’re doing just in bad in taste Commenter Tired Camel Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:40PM * The thing is, Christos, why does the moderator still allow the posts to go on, despite their not being actual responses to the original post? Isn’t that the root of the problem? I mean … re you, me and Smart the only people who think the practice of sarajane of melbourne (July 11, 2013, 11:59AM), Sally of (July 11, 2013, 12:38PM) and Haha! of Uranus (July 11, 2013, 12:43PM) is wrong? Dear Mod … you have the power to right the wrongs of the world. Oh. Sorry, mate. Of course. Rule #1. Never delete comments unless they are offensive or painfully truthful. Comments are (very very small pieces of) gold and must never be removed, never mind the mockery of the principles of forum debate. What we want at SMH is mass debate! Commenter Stupid Location Date and time

July 11, 2013, 1:52PM * Agreed – this was very well written indeed. Well done, Olympia! Commenter EmilyA Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:54PM * Why do young girls post sexually suggestive pictures of themselves on Facebook and Instagram? Because patriarchy. That’s what the article boils down to, yet you consider this insightful? Really? Commenter Direct Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:15PM * Well, I think comments about other comments that aren’t actual comments are not worth commenting on Commenter sarajane Location melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:27PM It wouldn’t be bullying, it would just show it up for what it is, ridiculous. I’m not suggesting using images of anyone local. I mean that pic of Miley is just woeful. Tragic. I feel sorry for her that it’s out there. But young girls live in a dream. Their reality is tenuous. They get caught up in a mindframe and live it out. The lines are blurred for them, it makes them very vulnerable. Commenter sarajane Location melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:41PM * That was such an insightful article, and as a high-school student, I think it was a really accurate rendering of a facet of social media.

When I read that it was written by a year 11 student I was even further impressed. It’s nice to have the opinion of an intelligent and articulate young person on issues that are involving and are relevant to young people. Thanks, SMH Commenter louises Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:17AM * Thank you for explaining it. I often wondered why my nieces posted only photos of themselves on FaceBook, time and time again, despite actually living very interesting lives with plenty of worthwhile events to photo and post and, getting lot’s of positive affirmation from family in real life.

All looking fish faced too. mind you at least their mother critiques their pages and removes anything inappropriate. Still, thank God facebook did not exist 30 years ago. Can you imagine 80’s fashion with 2010’s self-shoties? Or worse, my face that has been described by my brother as the south end of a camel heading north, looking all seductive fishing for a ‘like’ while in full 80’s regalia! Oh the humanity! Commenter Ship Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:22AM * My young cousin continually posts that pouted face on facebook too, and I find it quite disturbing.

Maybe if they knew what the “duckface” actually was they wouldn’t do it anymore. Or maybe they do know what it’s all about and that’s why they do it. If so, that’s a very sad and disturbing state when girls so young are broadcasting pornographic imagery for their friends and families to see. Commenter Mick Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:11PM * Call this outrageous, irrational or whatever you want… but I would be all for a push to ban facebook or any other social media by law. Personal identification should not be posted on the free world wide web.

Criminals, even the NSA, are monitoring individual activity via social media by way of stalking and identity theft. I would go as far as saying Facebook is the next cancer to hit our younger generation and is as addictive as smoking. I would be interested to see a study on the long term mental health issues relating to the daily use of facebook. We are slowly becoming a narcistic society where everything is about ‘me’. Commenter DKK Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:41PM * Facebook is designed to enrol and engross you in it. It takes you away from your loved ones and real life. ou search for affirmation from people who just don’t matter and are just as desperate for affirmation. you start to plan your life around doing things that can be posted to trigger more likes. Just how sad is that? Really. The longer you are on it, the more money they make and that’s why it is addictive. It’s designed to be addictive. I’ll be on for 5 mins a week but that’s it. Just to stay in contact with friends I care about so I can invite them over for a BBQ and then we can affirm each other through real relationships and real friendships. Oh, and the affirmation just happens.

You don’t set out to do it. That’s what real friendships do. Commenter Ship Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:10PM * It may just be up to people like you to fix this mess Olympia. Commenter Brad Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:24AM * Poor, poor kids. My heart bleeds for them. What the hell has this world become that these girls throw themselves open to the mercy of others. Commenter Boomer Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:28AM * You were doing well until you mentioned “patriarchy”. You said it yourself.

Girls are doing this to win the admiration of boys (for the record, most men I know think near-naked selfie-sods are pathetic). Men aren’t forcing girls to do this. Girls are perfectly able to make their own choices. Their choice to tart themselves up and attempt to look sexy in order to attract a certain breed in men might be a poor one, but it’s their choice none the less. Show some self respect and hold your gender accountable and recognise its power to change. It seems that female privilege is being able to make dumb decisions and pin the blame on the opposite gender.

Sounds a lot like the logic going through the heads on men in Saudi Arabia. Commenter Dale Winnings Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:29AM * Thanks for saying exactly what I was thinking Commenter Correct Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 11:49AM * Agreed Dale. There’s far too much ‘blame game’ culture in Australia. Whatever happened to people taking responsibility for their own decisions. Perhaps, if feminists are so keen on giving women the credit they deserve, they should consider giving them the credit they deserve? Commenter Simon Location Brisbane Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:03PM I agree. The article overall was good but there are hints pointing to the blaming of men for this. Once again that dreaded ‘M’ word was used. This whole situation is nothing more than corporations taking advantage of an immature market. Yep, it’s all about the money. Commenter Christos Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:32PM * Well said Dale. Commenter Raoul Duke Location Brisbane Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:39PM * Don’t be so defensive Dale she’s not solely blaming the men, it’s about a multi faceted dynamic that the writer has a clear grasp of and you appear not to Commenter

Deano Location Bondi Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:48PM * My thoughts exactly. A very well written article but it’s wrong to blame this one on gender. Regardless of the root cause (need for acceptance, peer pressure, narcissistic vanity, whatever) a ‘selfie’ is by definition, a photo one choses to take of themself. Any cruel comments that may follow are their own doing. Males are guilty of this too. Social media is filled with gym/festival/drunk selfies which as with sexual selfies, are taken, liked and commented on by immature people, craving the attention of like-minded fools.

Rather than blame others, take some personal accountability and steer clear of this behaviour. Un-friend repeat offenders and follow ‘I f***ing love science’ instead. Commenter John Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:49PM * Spot on. The patriarchy explanation is a cop-out. Commenter WW Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:55PM * Hit the nail on the head there Dale, I think men have changed a hell of a lot and pinning the reason that girls dress up like prostitutes on men is purely a lie. They do it to compete with their so called friends as an ego thing. But apart from that this is a great article.

Commenter Ben darwin Location Darwin Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:57PM * I agree with Dale, but not so much with Simon. Sure, the patriarchy are ultimately in the greatest position of power, and has been for a long time. However I have usually find the worst critics of women are other women. Women expect other women to act and dress and present themselves in a particular way, and judge them by that. Whist there’s plenty of repugnant men who only look at women as bodies and treat them as meat, there’s plenty of women who perpetuate that and – through media – force it on other women.

There’s whole fashion industries – run by women as well as men – dedicated to making women feel bad about them selves just so they can sell them products that will apparently make them feel better. For Simon to pull the blame-game out, there’s more to it than that. Sure we all have choices, but popular/mainstream culture makes it hard for teenagers to work out what is normal in the pop-culture sense, and what is normal in the sensible human being sense. When you’re trying to swim against the mainstream – especially as a teenager – it can be a very tough path to tread. Commenter Ross | Preston

Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:01PM * Couldn’t have said it better myself. Commenter Bow Location Cyber Space Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:07PM * Dale I think you missed a point that Olympia made – of course there’s no force from boys, but there is pressure, and Olympia specifically discusses the negative effects of resisting that pressure. Commenter Jess Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:09PM * Jess, all Olympia does is describe boy’s reactions to her and her ilk posting said pictures. Nothing she wrote implies that the boys are the ones in charge of this game.

If anything, her words just confirm that the boys themselves are just a pawn in an elaborate game created by the girls themselves. She also does nothing to address the crazy alternative of just refusing to play the game in the first place, because being a Year 11 girl stuck in the middle of the game, she has likely never even considered this option. Commenter Markus Location Canberra Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:44PM * What a shock, the men are responding negatively to the patriarchy comment. I did not take this article to be about blaming boys for the things girls do.

It’s about discussing why girls want/feel the need to do this, and PART of that is for the attention and admiration of boys who, for the most part, have no problem seeing female classmates wearing a little less than their school uniform or posing in a provocative manner and so they feed the cycle by providing the positive feedback these girls are crying out for. Yes, “men” may think it’s ridiculous, for the most part the “women” I know think it is also, but we’re talking about teens here, the perspective is obviously different. Commenter M Location Melbourne

Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:12PM * Think of it as people at a concert. If everyone sat down, everyone would be able to see. But you get one person who feels they can get an advantage by standing up. So they do. And the person behind them has to stand up… Sooner or later, everyone stands up, and nobody can see any better than before. That’s the situation here. Boys aren’t encouraging or influencing girls to post provocative selfies. But if a very small number of girls do it, then every girl feels like they have to do it, or else they will be left behind.

No, the patriarchy isn’t to blame – the girls who started it are. Of course if the “patriarchy” decided that demureness and innocence was a more desirable trait than sexiness, this would all collapse overnight. So in one sense the patriarchy has the ability (though arguably not the responsibility) to stop this, but can anyone see that happening? Commenter Ken Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:36PM * It’s really no different to the girls when I was at school who unbuttoned their school blouses lower than some and who rolled up the waistband on their skirts to show off their legs.

The age old idea that being sexually “attractive” to the male sex is something to be worked at or achieved. In my day we thought they were cheap and sluttish. I imagine it’s much the same today. Same issue, different medium. I abhorred the idea then and hated that I would never be “popular” because I chose to have more respect for myself. These days I tend to have more compassion and concern for young women who fall into the same trap. Life is more than the amount of male attention you can garner as you move through it.

Given the myriad of opportunities young women have today I would hate to see them sell themselves short in relation to being able to achieve more than being an appendage on a mans arm. This is not a feminist viewpoint by the way it is simply a statement of fact that no human being should judge their own value against their ability to attract other people. Commenter History Location Brisbane Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:38PM * To start, I thought Olympia provided an excellent insight into the psychology of this sub culture. Well written, with skill beyond her years.

Until she brought up the “Patriarchy” bit. 16 and 17 year old boys aren’t the “Patriarchy. ” If young women collectively decided to stop posting selfies on the web, I doubt you would have some sort of uproar from teenage boys complaining about the lack of semi-naked teenage girls on the internet! Much like the class troublemaker who sees any form of attention, even for poor behaviour, as a good thing, selfies of this nature are just another side of the same coin. Any attention is considered good attention. Commenter Mike Location St Kilda Date and time

July 11, 2013, 3:14PM * whoa. so you over analysed it. a girl puts up a provocative photo of herself. the analysis ends there. she did it. she deals with it or reaps the rewards. Commenter leopard Location syd Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:34AM * So tell me leopard, just what are the rewards in your considered opinion? Commenter Mavrik Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 11:46AM * Hey Leopard, the problem “she” may not be in the right headspace to deal with it the good, the bad and the sometimes very ugly feedback that she may get.

Am navgating this new selfie world with a 14 year old now….. scary! Commenter K Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:41PM * Olympia, you are insightful beyond your years. You have nailed what this is all about. How women/girls negotiate power in relation to other women/girls and how we subordinate ourselves to a power structure where men/boys have negotiated a clear position at the top. Thanks for sharing your insight. Keep thinking and analysing and communicating. We can change things when we understand what we are doing (both men and women). Commenter Anita

Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:36AM * Apex Fallacy Men aren’t at the top. Women are the gatekeepers and are very selective with who they share themselves with. This is only the alpha males. All this attention seeking is competition for the validation, acceptance and attention from their own female peer group and the select few men they want to be with who occupy the top of the female-chosen pile ie the jocks. I knew someone would try to blame men for this and know if I scrolled down further one of the usual suspects will be blaming porn Neither men or porn are to lame. This is all about women and their voracious need for attention, adulation and position within their peer group as well as their quest to land the alpha male to hold that over their respective peer group Maybe if we raised women to have something more to offer than just their looks (eg an intelligent interest in politics, economics, sci-fi and sports) maybe they wouldn’t resort to this form of behaviour Commenter Bender Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:06PM * Hey Bender … your analysis makes a lot of sense.

I’ve been struggling for years to understand the “I only dress for other women” argument you hear women using … and now you’ve explained it. It’s for other women (to show “my value to them in the competition”) and it is only for the select men “I want to attract” — but not for the mass of ordinary men who secretly “I despise”. Hence the inherent contradiction of looking sexy/makeup/revealing clothes/high heels etc etc with the “stop looking at me you dirty pervert”. Explains everything. God. What a humiliating mess for all of us. Thank you.

Commenter Dumb Man Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:21PM * As the mother of a 23 year old son and three daughters (23, 17 and 15) I see part of the problem as a lot of girls trying to copy the “hot” images they see in music videos, magazines, even porn because this imagery is everywhere in our society. My girls are not “attention-whores” in this way (their words) though they post occasional selfies (eg: school ball) but not pouty ones, thank goodness. What’s the point of getting lots of “likes” from other girls anyway, if they’re not sincere?

Sometimes I think this practice might almost be a transaction: you “like” my picture and I’ll “like” yours. I have also seen boys posting topless selfies striking multiple poses in front of a mirror on facebook. Boys are getting more and more sexualised in our society as well now. I’m glad my girls have the brains and self-esteem (like Olympia) to see all this for what it is and don’t take it so seriously. My girls actually have the habit of pulling “ugly” faces and then posting them on facebook at times, LOL! Subversive, maybe? Commenter MO4 Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:30PM “Maybe if we raised women to have something more to offer than just their looks (eg an intelligent interest in politics, economics, sci-fi and sports) maybe they wouldn’t resort to this form of behaviour” Says the man who routinely opines that only good-looking women are worth his attention… Commenter Donna Joy Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:18PM * It seems to me that If boys continually sent semi pornographic picture of themselves over the net, they would be reviled as always seeking sex, as vainglorious, as manipulative and as stupid – yet when girls do the same thing they are excused as being manipulated by the patriarchy.

Commenter DD Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 4:50PM * It seems to me that If boys continually sent semi pornographic picture of themselves over the net, they would be reviled as always seeking sex, as vainglorious, as manipulative and as stupid – yet when girls do the same thing they are excused as being manipulated by the patriarchy. Commenter DD Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 4:50PM * A very insightful article that accurately shows the issues with the rise of social media amongst teenagers. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Commenter Rosalind Location Date and time

July 11, 2013, 9:41AM * Thanks Olympia. You have no idea how educational your article is for me. With two pre-teen daughters I find the culture you describe terrifying. But you have helpfully identified the pressure of conformity as the important problem to help our children work through and overcome. Good article. Commenter Ed Location Turramurra Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:42AM * Feminism…… has a lot to answer for. It is hurting our society. Commenter Haggis Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:44AM * Exactly. One minute, it’s women being powerful and in control of their sexuality and attire.

Next minute, selfies are a tool of the patriarchy in their ongoing plan to keep da wimminz down. This is why people can’t take modern feminism seriously. Bringing up the patriarchy in cases like these is insulting towards the women in Middle Eastern countries who put up with far worse on a daily basis. Commenter Dale Winnings Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 11:51AM * Feminism is the absurd notion that women are people too. People do stupid things – just because someone of a particular sex does it doesn’t mean you need to tarnish that whole sex. Commenter Peach

Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:42PM * Shift the blame to your favourite ‘pet hate’ why don’t you…. Don’t be so shallow you should read this well written article right through from beginning to end and not just the headline and main photo before commenting Commenter Deano Location Bondi Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:54PM * “just because someone of a particular sex does it doesn’t mean you need to tarnish that whole sex” What, like labelling all issues facing women in society as being caused by a completely intangible yet somehow inarguably male ‘patriarchy’?

Commenter Markus Location Canberra Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:48PM * Yes, damn feminism and the way it’s made women strive to become more than just pretty, compliant housewives and baby machines, whose sole purpose is to land a man and keep him happy 😛 Commenter EmilyA Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:03PM * In many respects the only thing to change in the playground is the equipment. It’s the same kids as 30 years ago, from my experience. On a separate note, thanks Olympia for such profound insight.

Your depth of thought, honesty and clarity or writing are commendable. Commenter Sid Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:45AM * An insightful analysis, Oylmpia. Thank you I appears that girls pressure girls as much as the pressure from boys. A concerning conundrum. Commenter narc Location melb Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:46AM * Girls pressure girls, but it’s still the boys fault……. apparently. Commenter Bow Location Cyber Space Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:10PM * A very insightful article by someone in the thick of it.

I agree with all you say Olympia, as a mother of a 13 year old daughter and a High School teacher. I think by engaging in these “self” portraits girls are demonstrating just how far we haven’t come since the 1970’s. It is very sad and worrying at the same time. I just have to keep trying to help the girls I am in contact with build self esteem and self-approval based on qualities other than sexuality or appearance. Commenter Leigh B Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:46AM * Spot on. And great article. Commenter LX Location Melbourne Date and time

July 11, 2013, 1:25PM * “Kids are compelled to act the stereotype, because those who opt out commit themselves to social leprosy”. I know plenty of teens who ‘opt out’ of sexy trout-pouts. They all seem remarkably well-balanced and mature. You do have a point, though, those who are desperate to belong to certain groups DO feel the need to fit in and will do whatever it takes. Hopefully, it’s a stage they will grow out of eventually. Commenter heidir Location Hobart Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:46AM * Great and insightful article. Well written for a year 11 student.

The amount of narcissistic women that post hundreds of images of themselves striking the same practiced pose over and over again on my Facebook feed is enough to make me want to verbally abuse them for their clearly, distorted view of themselves and the way they want the world to perceive them. Some girls have 5,000+ photos of themselves on Facebook. It makes me fear for the future! If those of you that are reading are guilty of this, be aware of the type of man you will attract and please stop consuming valuable internet bandwidth with your extreme vanity. Commenter RogueHeathen

Location #Yolo Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:47AM * |like| Commenter becuz Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:47AM * Did Fairfax get permission from Miley Cyrus to re-publish this photo? Commenter mic123 Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:49AM * The moment that photo goes on Facebook, it becomes public property. Commenter Duckface Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:25PM * The same Olympia Nelson that was a child nude model on a magazine cover a few years ago? http://www. nowpublic. com/strange/its-art-not-porn-says-nude-child-model-olympia-nelson Commenter

ConcernTrole Location Yarraville Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:50AM * At first I thought this was going to be yet another article slut shaming teen girls and blaming them for their choices… written by an adult. But what a nuanced, well written piece. The social politics of teen life are complex, and Olympia you are totally right: the issue isn’t cyberbullying or sexting or whatever the next buzz word will be: its gender and social inequality, asymetrical power relations, and the desperate desire to fit in. Commenter Nina Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:50AM At first I thought this was going to be yet another article women excusing and blaming men for their choices… and I was right. Commenter Grey Man Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:14PM * Wow great article!!! And by a year 11 schoolgirl – incredible. Cudos to you! If only all girls that age thought the same…. It is scary what this world is coming to. Sexualising children at such an early age is a scary thing. Commenter Marianna Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:53AM * A great piece giving exposure to one of the many dilemma’s of growing up.

Peer criticism is constantly evolving and can be astonishingly brutal. Well done. #like #like #like Commenter captaintrips Location sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:54AM * Misogyny and Misandry in one shot article well done! Commenter KARMA MRA MGTOW Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:56AM * I live in the western suburbs of Perth,all you hear at the coffee shop is “hi gorgeous” “oh i love that outfit” oh you are soooooo beautiful” from the airhead mothers ,and then when its one on one”did you hear so and so is sleeping with so and so” or “so and so has a bit of a wine problem” etc etc … o wonder the kids follow suit ,they are simply mimicking their parents who are so vacuous and begrisdging of others. It is a rat race and even when you get to the top ,you are still a rat !! Commenter monkey see monkey do Location Perth Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:56AM * Is this the same Olivia Nelson from back in 2008 who was complaining about art and nudity….. Commenter homer99 Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:57AM * If your teenage daughter is a needy exhibitionist you should probably nip that in the bud quick smart. Ask why? Listen. Then talk about action, consequence, future implications, online presence.

Create boundaries, if you have a solid trustworthy relationship with your child it won’t get to this point. Commenter Carla_bunga Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:58AM * A well written article. By no means am I detracting from it when I ask however if this is the same Olympia Nelson who was caught up in the controversy surrounding nude pictures of children as an art form in 2008? Commenter Mat Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 9:59AM * Well written piece, growing up in such a hyper-connected society has additional challenges – at 32 I missed it all and I would not want to be a teenager these days.

Both genders have a double standard and are partially to blame for the situation, and I think the female mentality you demonstrate that “if you don’t post lewd photographs of yourself online you are a social leper” is a big part of the problem. You know, you’re really not! That’s a mentality propagated my women as much as men. Men, because frankly we want to see your boobs. Women, because they say you need to do this to be popular (“look at me I did it and look how many people ‘like’ me because of it”) then behind your back they tear strips off you.

Any popularity gains are very, very short lived in the wider perspective of life. Do I, as a guy, like looking at photos of sexy women? Yep. Are they wife material? Nope!! You cheapen yourself by putting everything on display for the world to see. What reaction do you want from men – instant gratification or lifelong respect? The choice is up to you. The good news is boys and girls turn into men and women in their mid 20’s and posting contorted duckface pictures online becomes less “important”. Commenter Geoff Location Sydney Date and time

July 11, 2013, 10:00AM * An insightful, bold and courageous article Commenter o Location Syd Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:01AM * Don’t do it. Don’t “like”. Don’t click the link. Don’t pose in the mirror. Be a human being not a human porn selfie. Don’t commodify yourself. Capitalism says you’ll always lose if you turn yourself into a commodity. Why? Because there are always younger, more attractive commodities out there, if only because of time. Don’t do it. How hard is that? Commenter Unselfie Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:01AM I’m a young adult who is gradually growing out of this phase. Looking back, I think you are spot on! Girls, we do this to ourselves, but are not even aware that this is what we are doing! Insight and awareness is very important, and I hope you’ve been able to help some girls gain this. I’m not sure how many teens read newspapers. Even if it’s not a lot, I know of adults (in their 20s and 30s) who are still doing this sort of thing. So at least I hope you’ve been able to help them. Commenter Meev Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:03AM * Wow… mazing article. Amazing. I may print this off and show it to my 1yr old in 14 or 15 years. Though one would hope that things have changed by then. People will blame the girls for conforming to the misogynistic pressure put on them by boys but all everyone wants, regardless of age is to be accepted! I can guarantee that many of my 30 yr old peers (including myself) are no better off and have learnt no more lessons than a 16 yr old. The only way to combat this is to promote healthy self esteem and that it only ever comes from within, not in the eyes of other people.

Seeking approval from others is a never ending cycle of pain and misery. I am so encouraged that there are intelligent people out there like you! Commenter James W Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:03AM * Gees, without sounding patronising, really well written Olympia, great insight and maturity in there for someone so young. Young yes, but of course you have seen all this shallowness and maybe to some extent even directly experienced some of it (likely it starts earlier than Year 11? ). But at some point you have seen it all for exactly what it is, seen right through it.

Your thinking, self-awareness, ability to observe and analyse others is just what I want my young daughter to be able to do (she’s only eight but already has her own mind, happy to try a really short hair cut even though some of the boys will make fun of it, some of the girls might too etc. ). And on top of that you can articulate it so powerfully. The message to girls, to boys, to everyone – THINK!! Think about what you are doing, why you are doing it, are you becoming a slave to an utterly vaccuous social media preoccupation?

Think about how you can stay true to yourself, does all this line up with good morals and good taste? Trouble is, parents need to drive this, and sadly not all parents… THINK! Did you get to this point by yourself, a sudden epiphany or gradual dawning, or have your parents or anyone else helped reach this acute awareness of what is wrong with all this? Commenter M (father of a boy and girl) Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:03AM * Extremely well written article, especially for someone still in school… probably better than most real ‘journalists’. A sensible perspective too.

If we can teach kids to find internal and external acceptance in healthy balanced ways, we will generally see them avoid the social media horror stories. It is tough to stop the innate search for approval, but it is possible to guide teens through the journey. Commenter parent Location sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:03AM * Thank you for the view from the trenches – it is really tough being a female teenager. I have great hope though when you can articulate what’s going on so clearly, naming is the first step Commenter Like Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:04AM Great and incisive analysis. As a father of a young daughter, who will become a young woman before too long, I hope that she grows up with your level of insight, and willingness to stand apart from peer pressure. I think that you are correct in your analysis that conformity is a real problem. It is also easier to imagine useful approaches to helping this that the huge and overwhelming monolith of patriarchy. I also bow to your charge of adults approaching problems unimaginatively. As if shouting at soembody and telling them not to do it has ever worked for any problem in the history of mankind.

It takes an entire supportive surrounding culture and careful nurturing to give a person the confidence and nuanced intelligence that you seem to have. Commenter Pop the cat Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:05AM * Olympia Nelson has provided an articulate and highly relevant starting point for a discussion of ‘selfies’ and the role they play in the macro issue in an increasingly sexualised child/young adult culture. Ms Nelson I believe is the daughter of Melbourne artist Polixeni Papapetrou whose nude portrait of Ms Nelson when she was just six and then published on the cover of an art journal formed part of a furore a few years ago.

Along with Bill Henson’s photographic art featuring naked adolescents, the representation of Ms Nelson fed into a debate about where ‘art’ started and stopped where the potential sexualisation of children was concerned. Selfies probably aren’t art, but they are a form of self-expression. Sadly, the ‘self’ concerned is no longer an adult attempting to represent something, but a child looking to define themselves. I can’t believe that this is an issue just about ‘good taste’. For me, this is an adult issue and it does relate the boundaries we place on kids, and on ourselves.

Speaking only for myself, I can’t help but think that Ms Nelson’s mother’s work has been part of the problem, expanding the boundaries of what images are acceptable to create and share. Commenter kt spring Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:06AM * I thought the name rang a bell. Generally a good article, but a bit of a double-standard at play given the history. Why are our girls so lacking in self respect and confidence? Not many seem able to tear themselves away from that need for validation. Commenter Katrinac Location Mount Waverley Date and time July 11, 2013, 11:59AM * ~*~*~ OmfG best art! cle eva ! oxoxo <3 <3 bffs? LOL #like4like Commenter Tom Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:09AM * ROTFLMAO!! Commenter Moi Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:40PM * No wonder those sites are the playground for pedophiles. I am so glad things were different in my youth – it was tough enough then, but this kind of stuff is so much more psychologically complex. Commenter Rogerdodger Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:09AM * Very mature article from a teenage girl, opposing so strongly the normal teenage girl behavior. Almost seeing the ‘other’ guiding hand over her pen, silly feminist extremist.

That’s that, you have to be misogynist male to watch the avalanche of female bodies exposed to the world, every minute, every step, every corner, TV add, including this very article exposing Miley Cyrus for plain tease. Yes, that’s the real morale of feminists, to tease unlimited but don’t touch;- we only want you, the misogynist out of your mind with excitement, so we can control you. How low the morale of our society has sunk, allowing young girls to be this hypocritical! Commenter Visionary Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:10AM * Well written and completely correct.

Nice work. Commenter Josh Location Northbridge Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:11AM * Very good opinion piece and made more so by being written by an Year 11 schoolgirl. That comment is not patronising but reflects that only a girl of that age can comment with genuine authority on the issue. The really impressive thing is that she demonstrates to oldies (which obvioulsy I am one) that young people do have a brain, do understand and think about these issues and are not just mindlessly listening to music or whatever in those devices growing out of the ears (okay that was a bit patronising).

The tragedy is in the last paragraph where she is dismissive and patronising towards adults in regards to this problem. Yes the technology is different and therefore the manifestation of the problem is different but technology is neutral and it is the way and intent that it is used that is the key and to suggest that adults don’t understand or relate to the real problem of conformity is offensive as it is quite untrue and even as adults it is very much alive in all aspects of our lives, just look at the schools debate. Olympia is quite right, we need good taste in social media.

The really positive thing is that, like all new technology, good taste (i. e. social etiquette) will evolve just like it did when email first came out. We need the courage of people (of all ages) like Olympia to stand up, even at the risk of social leprosy, and address this issue. As Dante said “The darkest places in hell are reserved for those who maintain their neutrality in times of moral crisis. “. Social media has some dark places but we need people to take that risk of social leprosy to overcome them. Once a few try they will see many follow. Commenter Lance Location

Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:12AM * Nicely put Olympia. Commenter Linc Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:13AM * Facebook will only become honest and worthwhile when it gets rid of the positive only LIKE response and replaces it with a sliding bar or matrix that allows us to express the full range of human emotions, anger, love, apathy etc etc… maybe then you might see some maturity enter into your childish exchanges…. after all, if an 11 year old school girl (Olympia) can see the superficiality of it, then we should demand the same from her peers!…. r they intelligent mature teens should find alternative social networks that reward free thinking and educated debate, there are plenty of other options out there, and it is hard to be bullied by a moron on an intellectual site. Commenter Phil Location Albury Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:14AM * Unfortunately expanding it will only increase the problem as people will not just Like people to be in the right social set but also dislike people to be in whether they agree with that position or not. Expanding would be to trolls like leaving an alcoholic in a bottle shop.

They should get rid of this insidious Like button and let the pictures stand on their own merits (or not as the case may be). If you didn’t have the like button then people would stop looking at the pictures as they wouldn’t be able to use it as a ranking tool. I remember the movie on Facebook and how at Harvard he started a website that enabled students to rank pictures of girl students (sound familiar? ). It was repulsive in the film and the current like is just a more subtle way of doing the same repulsive thing.

Yes there are good uses for it but unfortunately business and troll like people have abused the device and so it is time for it to go. Commenter Lance Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:11PM * “As feminists, we correctly blame patriarchy because boys are securely at the top of the status game” How very mature of you. As an adult, I would prefer if we encouraged and assisted both male and female teenagers to be less concerned about the superficial aspects of society, build meaningful relationships and be able to deal with the negative affects of peer pressure. Commenter Dave Location Sydney

Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:14AM * I am most definitely using this with my students. Tremendously succinct! Commenter nhyme Location torquay Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:15AM * I look forward to the follow up article from a Year 11 boy about the pressure to be a macho Alpha male. The pressure placed on them by society to be strong at all times and not to show pain, hurt or to be vulnerable. Specifically I’d like a couple of paragraphs on how girls his age and society as a whole expect this of him if he’s to be considered a worthy boyfriend and man and not ridiculed as ‘weak, nerdy, a loser etc.

It would be great to hear his thoughts on the massive damage that this pressure places on young boys and men in society through violence, bullying, depression, suicide, drugs etc. I’d be especially interested to see if he felt it justified that some blame was placed on girls for perpetuating this stereotype or if he felt that young men were responsible for their own actions? I’d be facinated to see the resulting comments from readers if he concluded that women shared some responsibility for the way men behave. I wonder if we’ll ever see that article? Commenter Bow Location

Cyber Space Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:29PM * What did I just read? Commenter Rye Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:15AM * This is a well written and accurate insight into the dangerous growing power of social media. Thank you for sharing such an articulate article. Commenter RosalindS Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:16AM * “The boy who mocks a girl showing her cleavage is in fact the same boy who craves sexual opportunities with her. ” Really Einstein? What else did you think the boy might want to do with her? Commenter liklik Location Date and time

July 11, 2013, 10:17AM * That is a great article, Olympia. Really appreciate you sharing your perspective and insights into the teenager’s world. Particularly important for me, as a parent of two young (pre-teen) girls. I agree with your conclusion around good taste. Given the complete lack of good-taste exhibited by the popular, commercial media (witness 2Day FM, Channels 7, 9 ;amp; 10, and the many celebrity focused magazines, etc. ) the best I can do seems to be to monitor/minimise exposure to these, so my daughters don’t feel the need to compare themselves to these and compete.

Do you think I’m missing the point? Are there any other measures you’d recommend? Commenter Josh Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:21AM * Great article and you had me right up to the man spat near the end. An intelligent piece but one which denigrated the theme down to a base Us (the girls) versus Them (those misogynistic, women hating low lives – or boys to the layman). Maybe I just missed something important…. Commenter Outraged, from Sydney Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:22AM Is this not the digital variant of provocative clothing or chumming up to the popular kid? When I was at college back in 2003, facebook was yet to hit the streets (in America or anywhere else), so girls would stretch the limits of school dress code with shorter than regulation uniforms or the odd loose top button and guys would wear form fitting clothes to show off what they called “upper body development”. These would have been the selfies of the time I guess where it was all about creating the appearance of a party animal and a popular person, even if you weren’t.

Now, (and I love the irony of this), people are seeking social praise of their peers and self assurance by discarding their own self respect and convictions in a chase for “likes”. Enjoy this false sense of self worth, as it won’t mean much in the real world where your performance review doesn’t care about your ability to pout. Commenter Matt Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:22AM * I’m disturbed by the spread of duckface everywhere – I’m not sure why girls think it’s attractive when the only signal it sends is “QUACK, QUACK, THROW BREAD AT ME! . Seriously, though, the photoshopping of supposedly ‘candid’ selfies (both for young women adding a large chest, and young men adding a six pack to their shirtless images) must be adding to body image issues as much as the urge to post photos themselves. Commenter Rockman Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:23AM * Well put in terms of identifying the issue. As to how we change teen views on taste, I think it’ll be a challenge, but one we have to face and address each day with each girl and boy. Commenter MS Location Date and time

July 11, 2013, 10:25AM * It’s more than a problem of taste. It’s our new culture. Female exabitionism and young blokes having the time of their lives, cant blame em. Commenter Haggis Location North of Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:06PM * This sort of thing is horrific. The break down in values taught to children is partially to blame here as some parents aren’t much better. Also the porn industry and over sexed culture of kids that is growing makes fertile ground for all sorts of things. Being conservative in this day and age is a bonus… here is way too much freedom now and we have become extreme in everything. These kids doing this now…. I ask what values will they show their children. Censorship is a requirement folks… we are too free today. Commenter MikeO Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:29AM * Olympia You appear to blame boys for all the troubles that girls seem to be having with this ‘selfie’ issue, but I think you taken a one sided view on this topic as this is happening to both boys and girls. Granted this is more of a girl issue, but by no means is it the fault of boys.

You are 100% correct on the need for some “good taste” Good taste in generations gone by was taught by the parents, adult family, adult friends and people in positions of authority (your sports coach, teachers, Police, and so on…. ) and herein lies the problem…. you mention that adults somehow don’t know how to control the social media, but your generation do not listen…. and most of your generation do not heed the lessons (not even just a fraction of them) of the adults that are trying to teach you all.

You are all boys and girls in training to be (hopefully good) young men and women, but when you have almost a complete generation of teenagers who think it is their right to not respect adults (in general) then you will ultimately have the issues you mention in this article. The teenagers of today could do well by listening just a little to the adults around them and then maybe we might see some “good taste” among the teenagers of today………… Commenter SORAGU Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:29AM * It is great to see a young person that actually does think.

This should be a sticky article on facebook. It is sad to see so many young kids prostituting themselves to popularity. Commenter ben Location melb Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:29AM * Impressively written piece from someone in the middle of the social media morass. Thank you, my daughters will appreciate the read. Commenter Dirk Diggler Location N Beaches Syd Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:29AM * “You’re ugly & don’t have any friends because you didn’t post a cute posed selfie on the internet”, said no one ever. The 1st thing in life that is needed to be learned is self respect.

If you can’t respect yourself enough to know that these sort of pictures are not needed in life, then you will not receive respect from those you consider your peers. Respect is not a FB ‘like’ or being a member of the cool group just to fit in. Find your own way, don’t conform to societies norms, be yourself, ;amp; don’t worry about what others say, as in the end it is you that you have to deal with in your own quiet moments of life. Well done Olympia Nelson, good to see our youth standing up to be counted! Commenter Indeed Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:30AM Olympia, what a well written article, you manage to highlight the issues in this area without making sensationalist comments and despite the barrage of comments that will do doubt appear on this page about how girls have to think for themselves, I wanted to say that your style and approach to a difficult subject is a hint that we might be lucky enough to read a whole lot more of your work in the future. Commenter Mike Location Forestville Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:30AM * Wow, fantastic article, Olympia. Agree that the selfie phenomenon is out of control.

Makes people look like total tossers. Girls, how about promoting your brains instead of your pouts?? Commenter Spot On Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:31AM * Oh of course, who else is to blame but the boys for the way girls treat themselves and each other? The one gender is accountable for the actions of both. Commenter ADamjo Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:31AM * It would seem that technology changes but the way a woman is judged as either a “Madonna” or “Whore”, has not. I would also like to add that other woman join in the “Madonna” or “Whore” chorus, it is not only men.

It always makes me smile when young woman say “I’m not a feminist but.. “, they have yet to experience the loss of societies esteem once they lose their looks, age and become “invisible”. Especially when they have been brought up on the fickle world of looks and beauty. Commenter JB Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:31AM * So they lose their looks and have to spend the rest of their life actually being rewarded on their merits? The horror. A ceasing of preferential treatment is not tantamount to discrimination.

That phenomenon of being ‘invisible’ that you describe applies to about 80% of people their entire life. Deal with it. Commenter Markus Location Canberra Date and time July 11, 2013, 1:55PM * This is fantastic insight from such a young woman, so firstly I wish to commend Olympia on the article and its arguments. I am forty this year, and in my lifetime I had held that women would become less objectified and more in control of their “image”. Women have achieved significant control of media, yet the same imagery pervades the marketplace.

It is my view that marketing is at the heart of the beast. Women observe what men find attractive, they wish to emulate it in order to be a suitable mate, they buy the products, the clothing, act the part so to speak. It appears to be a vicious circle for many women. Worse still, educated and capable women play into this as well, perhaps not in such as overt manner, but it is apparent across a broad social spectrum. I am now unsure whether women actually relish the objectification due to some biological imperative and whether it is simply that basic. However Olympia, chin up!

Use facebook and social media wisely yourself and you will find it very useful. I often work collaboratively with other scholars and colleagues using FB and I can assure you that among the young women at my university there are many intelligent, creative and beautiful women who do important things with social media (science/engineering/ legal stuff, activism etc) and don’t make the duck face (or worse) because they have established themselves as having a value that goes beyond that superficiality. What we do to help other women realise their value is about how we educate them.

And there are plenty of men out there who love their partners without makeup, ranting about social injustice, and they help with the children so their wives can achieve their goals. Ask my husband! Commenter Celia Location Adelaide Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:33AM * I like yr critical attitiude Olympia. I have two girsl, 6 and 4 yrs of age now, and i despair about how I am going to arm them well enough to avoid this muck, if they can. I hope they have the ability to question it all, like you do. Commenter GLAP Location Date and time

July 11, 2013, 10:35AM * What a well thought out and accurate opinion Olympia, flabbergasted when I read at the bottom of the piece you are only 11. There is hope for your generation after all. All this self adoration and posing is borderline offensive with the sad part being that many many boys objectify girls who behave like this as just good time sluts, not the girls they plan to be with long term. The damage to their own self esteem long term is intrinsically set in stone the day that camera takes it’s first snap shot. Commenter Really?

Location Sydney Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:36AM * The answer is simple Olympia. Don’t do selfies. Commenter JohnLT Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:37AM * Wow, this is a great opinion piece, offering a real and valuable insight into a world within social media that few people understand, or at least care to. Thanks Olympia. Perhaps I’ll hang on to this and show it to my own kids one day so they know social leprosy ain’t all that bad.. Commenter bowie Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:39AM * Wow Olympia, fantastic article.

The highest praise I can give is that I had no idea it was written by teenager until I saw the byline. “kids … who opt out commit themselves to social leprosy”. Is it really this bad? In 1987 when I was in year 11 (all boys school) there were plenty of us “opting out” of anything passingly “social” – I was as square as the proverbial peg. But I wasn’t the only one and there wasn’t a tyranny of the cool or sporty to belittle us. Because of this I have never understood the standard portrayal of US high schools as Lord of the Flies redux. Has that changed?

Too hard to answer I suppose, all schools are different, maybe I was particularly lucky. I am heartened by your final sentence for I believe good taste requires courage, courage is what we need to face squarely into the prevailing wind, and a critical mass of the courageous becomes simply camaraderie… Commenter Gregory Tod Location Melbourne Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:39AM * “Correctly blame patriarchy”? “Kids are compelled to act the stereotype”? Not so, Olympia. Put the blame where it really lies – weakness of human character. Have a go at addressing that.

Commenter Inquisitor Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:40AM * As the sound of rattling sabres fades into the distance, the dust settles and we’re left with the cold hard reminder that men are responsible for both their own, and womens actions. Aren’t men just the worst. Correlation and causality ‘n all that. Commenter JC Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:42AM * Wow Olympia, you write very well for an 11 year old. I agree with a lot you have said. I think a lot of it comes down to self worth. Girls need to have a higher opinion of themselves.

It needs to come from within, not what men think of them. Men have the same issues, albeit milder, but it seems to be more common. Commenter Hugo Thundercrotch Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:42AM * re:”Wow Olympia, you write very well for an 11 year old. ” … ughm….. “Olympia Nelson is a year 11 schoolgirl. ” Commenter mama Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 2:53PM * What a well written article. I was surprised to see the author a year 11 student. Great insight to being a teenager these days, I thought the 80’s was difficult. Commenter DL Location

Alexandria Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:42AM * So, a girl take a selfie, posts it and her female friends say she looks really hot, to her, but to each other say she’s a slut, back stab her, lie to her, and are more than willing to betray her just to rise in the social standings. BUT, rather than focus on the nastiness of girls, lets all blame boys, because that is much, much easier. How about you take a bit of responsibility for yourself. Think about the medium you are using. Do all those vacuous “You look hot” from people you don’t know, really mean anything?

You call it social leprosy. Maybe that is the real problem. Silly little girls thinking that being popular is a Career Choice. Anyway, if boys are that bad, why do you keep trying to get their attention? Commenter Farmer Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 10:44AM * Possibly the most spectacular example of missing the point I’ve seen. Commenter Haldane Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:09PM * No, I think Farmer’s spot on. Men aren’t forcing girls to take selfies. Girls do it all by themselves. Commenter Dale Winnings Location Date and time July 11, 2013, 12:37PM Farmer is right, teenage girls do this in order to attract a certain type of male “the jock”, if teenage girls were more open to trying to attract the nerdy or the geek guy based on intelligence rather than the sports star then they wouldn’t have to do any of this at all. as those type of boys would be happy just to talk a girl. This points out the same thing teenage boys want hot girls and teenage girls want hot guys, that is the way they are, they are undeveloped in maturity. This is less so but by no means non-existent in the adult population. Commenter Huiey

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