This morning I had the TV news on and there was a young woman on with her parents talking about how she had uploaded photos of her in a bathing suit to a porn site when she was fifteen. She was a little older now, maybe seventeen. I didn’t write down her name and decided not to use it in my post because it gives her more publicity, which I think can be dangerous, and she already has a lot. She wasn’t naked but the photos accentuated her breasts and she had gotten some positive press but also a lot of negative. At school she was being harassed by other kids who were saying she was a slut and going to be a porn star. She was also receiving some really scary communication from people who had seen her photos saying they were going to rape her when they saw her, etc.

So- I’m not even going to go to the fact that amateur porn isn’t paid and therefore exploits the women involved even further. Sticking to the story: Her father said the pics weren’t worse than anything you’d see on Victoria’s Secret, which was true. Why wouldn’t we expect our young people to idealize and copy the things they see in society? They are trying to figure out this crazy world. This is a teenager. She’s not the one to blame and call bad. She is following the messages she has gotten from society that tell her being a porn star is one way women are valued.

When I was in school for social work, I remember having a colleague whose family was very proud of her sister and continually recognizing and praising her for being a cheerleader for the Oakland Raiders where as she was getting her Masters in Social Work and they really weren’t that interested or as proud of her. I have always thought that was so interesting. To me, it seemed that the values within her family reflect those of the larger society. Women cheering for men and men’s sports and being on show primarily for men is much more valued than education or helping professions that are traditionally women’s work. From all angles, women get the message that our bodies, looks, and being eye-candy for men is much more important than our ideas, thoughts, and feelings.

More girls and young women have become amateur porn stars in the recent digital age than at any other time. Sending a naked picture of yourself to someone over the internet may not classify you as a star, but that is what you could become. With a couple of clicks at the computer, ‘naked you’ could be all over the world for every creepy man out there to spew his stuff over. The internet is still relatively new, as are camera phones. Young women are vulnerable to the idea of using digital media to be seen as the cultural standard of beauty, to gain popularity, or to simply be liked.

The following is taken from Wikipedia:

“The largest impact on amateur pornographic photography has been the advent of the internet, digital cameras, and more recently camera phones. These have enabled to take private photos and which have also allowed images to be shared instantly, without the need for expensive distribution, and this has resulted in an ever growing variety and quantity of material. It has also been argued that in the Internet age it has become more socially acceptable to make and view amateur porn. Photo sharing sites such as Flickr and social networking sites such as MySpace have been used to share amateur pornographic photographs – usually nudes but also hardcore photos. A more private and easy to control method of sharing photos is through Yahoo Groups or Google Groups which have access restricted to group members”.

“Recently the potential dangers of teenagers or children, who may be unaware of the consequences, using their Camera phones to make videos and images which are then shared amongst their friends (sexting). Images initially meant to be shared between couples can now be spread around the world. The result is now a small but growing amount of online amateur porn depicting underage models, created by the young people themselves.”

The young people creating these videos, posting naked photos of themselves, or sex-texting (sexting) are living in an age when as women, we are valued more for our bodies looking sexy than for anything else. Porn stars are popular and idealized. And women with ridiculous amounts of money, like Paris Hilton, send naked photos of themselves to their boyfriends. What is Paris Hilton famous for? Ultimately being a rich kid and then for acting mean and ridiculous when she was on TV? Well, for whatever it is at this point, it started with her naked pictures “leaked” on the internet. I say leaked in quotes because I always thought she planned it. Certainly is a way to get some publicity- bad or good doesn’t matter. Ms. Hilton is wrapped up in this too. She has been objectified all over the map and even if she did “leak” those photos, it’s not her fault she is seen as a sex object, it’s society’s fault for looking at women that way and praising that view.

So, it’s easy to see why young women might think it’s a good idea to become amateur porn stars.

We need to help young women understand that they are being objectified and their value and importance is reduced to their bodies and looks.

Grrl Code: Help young women understand how putting their naked selves on the internet can not only be dangerous, but also reduces them to being valuable only for their looks rather than all the other amazing things they have to offer. It ends up objectifying them. Encourage women to promote their talents and ideas that build self-esteem and their image of themselves and other women. Examples might be: singing, running, writing, drawing, communicating, theater, basketball, computer tech stuff, fashion, design, etc. There are so many.