Young women adopt role of sexual aggressor

Wednesday, December 14 2011

But what are they really after?

Lynda Steele, CanWest News Service

Published: Friday, August 24

I feel sorry for little girls these days. They're being forced to grow up so quickly.

When I was 11 or 12, I was riding horses in the bush, floating on inner tubes at the lake or singing into a hairbrush with my favourite K-Tel record scratching away in the background.

Wide-leg pants and plaid bush jackets were all the fashion rage. Most of my girlfriends sported mousy brown mullets, and the occasional flash of blue eye shadow, secretly applied in the school bathroom.

It was an innocent time. Sure we pined for boys, but for the most part, it was all fantasy and no action. Only a handful of girls were even wearing training bras back then. We were kids on the cusp of becoming young ladies.

Today's little girls are maturing more quickly, getting their periods as young as age nine.

They're shopping for bras and even thong underwear at an earlier age, and dressing more provocatively to emulate their teenage idols on the red carpet.

Young girls are acting more like young women, giving a premature kick-start to their hormonal tanks. Maybe that's why young women are starting to behave more like young men these days.

I was shocked when a 20-something male colleague described the current bar scene. He lamented that women are becoming more predatory. Like men, they scope out the room, choose their target and make a bold proposition.

"Let's go out to your car and get it on. You game?"

I couldn't believe it. He insisted it was true, and instead of being titillated by the offer, said the sexual boldness was actually a turnoff.

I thought his experience had to be an anomaly. But the more I asked, the more I heard about women increasingly becoming the sexual aggressor. Another male friend confessed to being approached in bars on several occasions by young women offering sexual favours. And here's the kicker. He's married. They knew it and didn't care. Interesting.

Then there's the young businessman about town who claims to routinely receive naked photos on his cellphone from young women lobbying for a date. Honestly, get some self-respect, ladies.

Melanie Beres is a PhD who studied gender psychology at the University of Alberta. She wrote her thesis on sexual consent, using seasonal workers in Jasper as her study group.

"There certainly does seem to be a trend where some women are actively seeking sex," agrees Beres.

The anti-rape activist and educator thinks the trend is linked to an increasing focus on women's sexual pleasure over the past decade or two. Hit shows like Sex in the City and Girls Gone Wild portray young women taking control of their lives, deciding when, where and with whom they want to be intimate.

"It has become more acceptable for women to participate in previously taboo activities. On principle, I think this is good."

But while Beres thinks women should be free to explore their sexual desires, she says the reality is they're still running into that age-old double standard. Young men who took part in her study said the best sex they ever had was with women who were assertive and upfront about what they wanted. Yet those same men described that aggressive sexual behaviour as "slutty" and "unattractive." I guess it's one thing to do the dirty with an anonymous and willing partner, and quite another to bring her home to meet the parents.

And here's another interesting observation Beres made during her two-month study in Jasper: Despite some women's aggressive approach to casual sex, Beres says, many admitted that, "Sex seemed to be the 'cost' in order to get what they wanted -- kissing, cuddling, companionship (even if just for one night)."

Ah, now it all makes sense.

I guess young women today aren't really all that different from women of my generation.

Despite their sometimes promiscuous behaviour, women are still really searching for the two "Rs" -- romance and respect.

lsteele@globaltv.com


© The Edmonton Journal 2007

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