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Macho Girls


David Mills - published on 01/07/15 - updated on 06/07/17

Sexual liberation is not so liberating.

The three girls at an expensive boarding school in Chicago, two wealthy and one poor, but all from dysfunctional homes, decide that they are tired of being weak and exploited by men, and decide to force the boys in the school to have sex with them by threatening them with a gun. They do not succeed, and are not happy, and their friendship breaks apart, ’till things spin out of control, as they tend to do in these movies.

I found the movie, an indy production called The Smokers I’d seen years ago, in a video store, and I was glad to see that someone might still see it, since most movies of its sort disappear. I think the movie was meant to be a comedy, but it was too accurate to be funny, because one knew that all around us are hundreds of thousands or more of young women exactly like the three girls, just as unhappy and confused and desperate, and one cannot laugh at children who are lost in the dark.

The girls’ pursuit of sexual power just proved to them how impotent they were. The two who had sex came to bad ends: one left with an apparent disgust with sex and with the guilt of killing a boy, the other burned to death, blamed afterwards for the killing the first committed. Their sexual acts — the film earned its "R" rating — gave them no joy and little pleasure. The one who does not have sex in the movie finally recognizes the good man who cares for her and the voiceover at the end suggests that she later marries him and lives happily ever after.

The movie was, if anything, an advertisement for virginity. A few days after I first saw it, The New York Times published an article that praised, though somewhat ambivalently, the sexually aggressive young woman whose pain the movie had exposed. “Ever since Sadie Hawkins, teenage girls have chased and flirted with boys. But now they are initiating more intimate contact, sometimes even sex, in a more aggressive manner, according to the anecdotal accounts of many counselors, psychologists, magazine editors and teenagers,” claimed the story titled “She’s Got To Be a Macho Girl.”

As with most such stories on alleged social trends, it is hard to know whether it is a trend at all, and if so, how significant it is, and to which teenagers it applied. The author offered quotes from teenagers around the country and examples from pop culture, particularly pop music, but the only hard data he cited showed a decrease in adolescent sexual activity. Some of the adults quoted saw the creation of sexually expansive young women as an expression of equality, confidence, and the like, and one of the greatest fruits of feminism. They used the word “empower” a lot. People like Atoosa Rubenstein, the editor of CosmoGirl, a magazine that originated in Hell, explained that “Their mothers have told them, Go for student council, go for the team, go for that job, and that has turned from a message directed toward achievement to being something their whole lives are about. So they apply it to pursuing boys as well.”

But the matter does not stop with girls asking out boys because they feel confident enough to do so. The matter inevitably involves the question of what these children do on their dates, and Ms. Rubenstein has a blithe answer: “Whether that pursuit is sexual or an expression of a crush, Ms. Rubenstein said, ‘is up to the girl.’”

Up to the girl. There you are. The choice of an act with profound and ineradicable moral, spiritual, emotional, social, and usually physical consequences is to be left up to a child who is not considered competent to vote, choose elective surgery, drink, or decide whether or not to go to school. If her choice results in a baby, however, she is considered competent to have him killed. In many states she cannot get her ears pierced without her parents’ permission, but in nearly all of them she can have her womb opened and evacuated without even telling them.

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