Easy A and Teenage Sexuality

Whether we were actually at the party where it went down or heard about it at school the Monday after, we've all witnessed it. Two people hook up. As they walk into school, the rumor spreads with their every step. You would think the two people, that engaged in the exact same act, would be treated similarly. And yet as the guy walks down the hall he is suddenly not just another teen boy in baggy jeans with a serious case of bed head. No, somewhow he has rippling muscles and locks flowing in the wind as he arrives on his noble steed. He gets off his horse, throws a football, chops some wood, sprays axe from head to toe and lets everybody bask in his hyper-masculinity. "He scored" the townspeople high schoolers whisper to one another in reverence and approval.

And then there's the girl. Her entrance into school doesn't exactly belong in a fairy tale, or any literature intended for young readers. No, she might as well be wearing last night's makeup smeared across her bedraggled face, 6-inch heels and a thong-revealing skirt, because that's all anybody sees when they look at her.

Behold The Stud and The Slut - a double standard so ingrained into our society and personal lives it's accepted as fact and the correct order of the universe. And while my description of such a phenomenon may have employed hyperbole a little too enthusaistically (I'm writing this as a physics study break cut me some slack), we all know that this actually happens. It was as I was watching Easy A this past weekend, and this exact scenario was played out on screen as the result of a nice virginal girl just trying to help out her gay best friend by helping him fake a hook up, that I realized just how true it is.

As I watched Easy A, I expected little else than another schooling in this unfortunate but admittedly obvious double standard. Girls get the short end of the stick when hooking up and people judge them harshly while guys only benefit. It sucks, and upsettingly, it's often due to girls attacking other girls, imposing ridiculously high standards on each other while they hypocritically engage in the same activity.

But that's a whole other story. The main thing I found myself thinking while watching Easy A was, "Why is our crazy ass society so simultaneously obsessed with and scared of sex?" America is essentially a puritan peddling pornography; it makes no sense, and yet these two ideologies co-exist, if not peacefully then certainly effectively.

In Easy A, Olive (the main character who is seen as an adulterous whore despite her actual virgin status) is shunned by her community - most notably female figures, her best friend and a hyper-religious enemy - and decides to teach them all a lesson by both embroidering an "A" on her clothing (corsets, for the most part) while helping out the virginal boys in her school by faking sex with them for money (because boys only benefit from hooking up, even with a whore, and shouldn't she benefit, too?). But the thing is...would this scenario even be possible if we weren't so intimidated by open sexuality?

The parents in this movie are a fantastic answer to this dilemma. They openly discuss sex with their daughter, even drawing on their own past experiences, and support Olive's decision to try to exploit the label imposed on her by her community by dramatically living up to their standards, pointing out the flaws in their values. I think it's amazing that these parents were portrayed as being open about the topic. Our fear of sex probably stems from a lot of places, but the fact that it's something generally NEVER discussed with parents or in the household (aside from "The Talk") is almost definitely a huge reason for that. Granted, as we walked out of the movie theatre, a few of my friends balked at this portrayal. "If my mom talked to me about sex, I'd die," one said as the other enthusiastically agreed. And so would I...NOW. If I had been raised in an environment where sex was discussed openly, I probably wouldn't feel as much shame about the whole topic. Also worth noting: the girl whose parents were open about sex remained a virgin, where I think most people would assume the opposite result. In fact, not fealing shame about something like sex definitely makes people feel more confident in their ability to make decisions about it and stay true to themselves.

Basically, Easy A outlines the difficult situation teens are put into today regarding their sexuality. We're pulled in both directions: ashamed if we have and ashamed if we haven't. But seriously, we need to get rid of this shame. Maybe the answer is marching through school in a black lacy corset with a red "A" embroidered on it. Maybe it's not. But seriously, we've got to own it.

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Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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