Wendy Shalit deserves the credit for taking on the hookup culture and explaining why girls and young women are usually its victims. Once again, I highly recommend Girls Gone Mild and its predecessor, A Return to Modesty, to parents and teens. Here are some direct quotes that present what I consider to be very good news:
Having grown up in an oversexualized culture, [these young girls] were sick of it and were trying to rally other girls to not present themselves as mere sex objects.6
History has taught us a surprising lesson. Intimacy flourishes where there is also restraint.7
The majority of young people who are participating in the hookup behavior are miserable.8
All of the sexually active girls the reporters talked to wished they had waited until marriage. . . . By the time girls are fourteen to sixteen . . . they don't have any concept of sex as something special. After awhile it makes them feel worthless.9
Young people report that trivializing sex also takes the fun out of it. . . . There is no longer any mystery or power to sex—it is just expected that everything will be sexual, and so nothing is. There is nothing to wait for, or to look forward to. . . . It's as if the concept of innocence were illegal.10
Some young people are seeing the limits of the "let it all hang out" philosophy. . . . Sex may sell, but at our current degree of saturation, mystery and honor will sell even more. . . . We are hungry for examples.11
I'm interested to see that young women are rising to this challenge. At some level they seem to recognize that they are the only ones who can change things.12
Shalit's observations are precisely on point. Systematic research has confirmed that girls are often remorseful after early sexual experience, and some have determined not to make the same mistake again. Consider the following corroborating findings from the Heritage Foundation.
A recent poll by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy asked the question, "If you have had sexual intercourse, do you wish you had waited longer?" Among those teens who reported that they had engaged in intercourse, nearly two-thirds stated that they wished they had waited longer before becoming sexually active. By contrast, only one-third of sexually active teens asserted that their commencement of sexual activity was appropriate and that they did not wish they had waited until they were older. Thus, among sexually active teens, those who regretted early sexual activity outnumbered those without such concerns by nearly two to one.
Concerns and regrets about sexual activity are strongest among teenage girls. Almost three-quarters of sexually active teen girls admit they wish they had delayed sexual activity until they were older. Among sexually active teenage girls, those with regrets concerning their initial sexual activity outnumbered those without regrets by nearly three to one.
The dissatisfaction and regrets expressed by teenagers concerning their own sexual activity is striking. Overall, a majority of sexually active boys and nearly three-quarters of sexually active girls regard their own initial sexual experience unfavorably—as an event they wish they had avoided.13
Michelle Malkin, in her article "Standing Up to the 'Girls Gone Wild' Culture," describes a courageous youngster who has not fallen victim to early sexual experimentation. Instead, she is fighting for decency. Malkin writes:
First, let me tell you about my new hero. Her name is Ella Gunderson and she's a student at Holy Family Parish School in Kirkland, Washington. As reported in the Seattle Times a few months ago, Ella recently wrote a remarkable letter to the Nordstrom's department store chain.
"Dear Nordstrom," she began."I'm an 11-year-old girl who has tried shopping at your store for clothes, in particular jeans, but all of them ride way under my hips, and the next size up is too big and falls down. They're also way too tight, and as I get older, show everything every time I move. I see all of these girls who walk around with pants that show their belly button and underwear. Even at my age I know that that is not modest. With a pair of clothes from your store, I'd walk around showing half of my body and not fully dressed. . . . Your clerk suggested there is only one look. If that is true, then girls are supposed to walk around half naked. I think maybe you should change that."
All it took was one little girl to speak her mind about the excesses of our "Girls Gone Wild" culture. And guess what? The market, in a small way, responded. Nordstrom executives wrote back and pledged to young Ella Gunderson that they would try to broaden the clothes choices for girls. "Your letter really got my attention," wrote Kris Allan, manager of the local Nordstrom's where Ella shopped. "I think you are absolutely right. This look is not particularly a modest one and there should be choices for everyone." . . .
Here's the best part. She and her friends didn't wait around for Nordstrom's to change its inventory. With help from her mom and 37 of her classmates, Ella organized a fashion show to model decent clothes for girls aged 10 to 16. The sold-out show, called "Pure Fashion," drew a crowd of 250; two other clothing stores donated modest clothes; the girls got a standing ovation; and the event raised money for the Catholic Challenge Club network, which encourages young girls to stand up for their faith and their values in an increasingly secular and hostile world.14
Congratulations, Ella. We are proud of you. And thank you, Michelle, for bringing Ella to our attention.
6.Wendy Shalit, Good Girl Revolution: Young Rebels with Self-Esteem and High Standards (New York: Ballantine, 2008), 233.
7.Wendy Shalit, "Modest Extremes: Why an Observant Jew Understands Sexuality Better than Hugh Hefner," In Character; see http://www.incharacter.org/article.php?article=55.
8.Shalit, Girls Gone Mild, 11.
13.Rector, Johnson, and Noyes, "Sexually Active Teenagers."
14.Malkin, "Standing Up to the 'Girls Gone Wild' Culture."
Book: Bringing Up Girls
By Dr. James Dobson