In 1980, Roger Ebert reviewed a coming-of-age movie called Little Darlings. The movie starred Tatum O'Neil and Kristy McNichol as summer campers who embark on a bet to see who can lose their virginity first. Kristy was taught by her mother that sex is nothing more than a biological function. About her on-screen deflowering, Ebert wrote this:
"It was not, of course, quite like she expected it to be. She sits quietly in a corner of a deserted summer cottage, her thoughts a million miles away from her teen-age boyfriend. At last she says, "I feel so lonely."
The feelings implied in that single line are completely true to the scene and to the character. Kristy is lonely because she has suddenly and rather unhappily passed on from the ranks of pubescent girls. She is now an individual, possessed of the sometimes uncomfortable freedom to make decisions. Sexual intercourse, she tells the boy, "made me feel like you could see right through me." She slept with him for childish reasons, but now, we feel, she will never approach the decision so casually again."
That was nearly three decades ago.
Fast forward to June 2009. NPR reports the now-old news that young people are "hooking up" rather than dating. The reasons, according to "experts" cited in this article, include delayed marriage, fragmented lives that make young people skittish about intimacy, women's sexual empowerment, and social media.
Hooking up reportedly emerged in the 1960s and '70s out of the worst idea ever: co-ed campus housing. Back then it was called casual sex or one-night stands, which stilled carried a stigma, at least for women.
It is the diminishment of female sexual stigma that Jessica Valenti, executive editor of Feministing.com, thinks is the real source of concern ...1
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