In Defence of the Teenage Girl

With the burgeoning success of posting videos on Vine, Instagram, Facebook etc, it is likely that you have come across some kind of short video of teenage girls doing something ’embarrassing’. Most likely you will see that these videos are accompanied by comments such as, “dumb sluts” / “would like to see them try that in my house” / “kids these days are so effing dumb and disrespectful” / “the world is doomed” / “fuck this generation”. And so on because people need to type their own variation of the comment despite the 1000 comments already there.

Generally, no matter the behaviour of the teenage girl in the video, I am more inclined to think the people commenting are the disrespectful meanies who seem to have just completely wiped out their memories of being young. Or else they were really, really boring when they were teenagers. The videos I’m specifically talking about from now are the ones where a young women do some kind of booty-shaking dance / choreographed dance moves / sing-a-long. They’ve probably spent a bit of time learning and practicing the moves.

"Booty-shaking". I'm hip. I'm down. I've got the 411.
“Booty-shaking”. I’m hip. I’m down. I’ve got the 411, and you are not going out and getting jiggy with some boy, I don’t care how dope his ride is. Mamma didn’t raise no fool.

Then of course, comes the filming of the dance and posting it online.

Cue: hateful comments. This is the part where I shake my head in disbelief. Do I think that thirteen year-olds should be posting booty-shaking moves online for the world to see? Not really, no. Do I think people need to realise that girls have been learning dance moves together since possibly the beginning of music? Yes. The only difference is that girls post the videos online now.

Every time there is one of these videos I am baffled by the way people seem to think these are new habits created by today’s generation of young girls. Like, what? Surely girls liking dancing with their friends isn’t new information to people?

I remember attempting to learn one particular dance from Center Stage with my friend when we were about 12. This was not the only time. I was not good at dancing. Boy-oh-boy did I think I was. We thought we were doing awesome. I’m pretty certain we would have filmed it if we could – and then probably posted it if that was the common practice at the time. There was even one particular afternoon where a friend and I made our own film version of a real film with her parents video camera. We thought that shit was sweet. Was it? No. Ohhhh no. But at the time we thought we were so cool for making that video… and we would have posted it online if we were 13 today.

How people on facebook react to teenager's dance moves.
What (I assume) people on Facebook think dancing leads to. Things which are again, kind of normal teenager experiences.

People who jump immediately onto their high horses on facebook seem to forget that this is a normal part of being a teenager. It’s just that the normal behaviour has morphed into today’s social-media environment. For teenagers, posting videos and photos is normal. They are surrounded by social-media and have been from a younger, more impressionable age than adults of today who remember the days pre-internet.

Sexy dance moves? Some of them are, yes. Though I don’t remember if there were particularly sexy moves in Center Stage, you can bet that if there was, we copied them. The thing about being a teenage girl is that you will often do sexy dance moves; in the school corridor, alone in your room, at parties. I promise I’m not just speaking from personal experience – this is what I remember from observing other teenager girls when I was one. The difference is not the presence of sexy moves, it’s that the sexy moves are broadcast on the internet now. Should young women be doing something sexy on camera for the public to scrutinize? No. Should we expect all young women to refrain from being sexy online if the internet is part of their ‘normal’ and nobody has educated them on why not instead of just calling them ‘whores’ when they do? No.

Teenagers aren't the height of mature. We know that. It's up to the parents to know how to monitor internet use but to also show their children how to conduct themselves online. It's up to teenagers to learn from their mistakes. But it's not up to you, random facebooker, to angrily yell about how all teenage girls today are 'little whores'.
Teenagers aren’t the height of mature. It’s up to the parents  to monitor internet use and to show their children how to conduct themselves online. It’s up to us all to demonstrate that some things are best left private. It’s not up to you, random facebook user, to angrily yell about how all teenage girls today are ‘whores’. Doesn’t really help.

I can’t prove it, but I just know it in my bones that were once those of a teenage girl that even in times seen as prudish, like those of Jane Austen that there were girls learning the newer and saucier promenades in their parlors. There were girls dancing together in sculleries and to candlelight. Girls practicing moves and laughing together since music.

The difference in this generation is not that girls dance, it’s that they post it online afterwards. Lay off the name calling and simply look to the girls in your own life if you need to sound off a lecture on appropriate online use…which also, does not include calling minors sluts.


15 thoughts on “In Defence of the Teenage Girl

  1. Maybe the thought out there is desperate times call for desparate measures? I don’t know, but i guess if we focus on the details too much, we can lose sight of the bigger picture. Life is quirky that way. Hope your Friday is a quirky one in a good kinda way!

  2. There is always room to learn and it doesn’t matter how old or young we are, its inevitable for us to evolve. I like that you defend the issue, because probably “back in the day” similiar antics were done, publicly as well. The only difference is we didn’t have access to intant media to share our craziness “look what i just did antics!” kudos jessmittens

  3. I’m with you, Jess. Being a teen today is something else entirely. Me and my friends made tons of ridiculous videos when we were younger and I’m sure we would have been ridiculous enough to post some of them online for the world to see if that was the thing. I’m sure there would have been plenty of haters commenting, too.

    Teens are just young and silly…that’s it.

  4. teenage girls are more beautiful than flowers and anyone who says mean things about them is jealous and……mean. Your post reminded me that a hundred years ago I used to practice the “go go” and hope I was appearing “sexy”
    LOL! I had forgotten about that. You are a compassionate, gifted writer Jessica. 🙂

  5. I remember, as a teenage girl, reenacting Titanic and other movies. We filmed it but it was on a video camera. Insufficient technology was the only reason it never went on the internet!
    The thing that bothers me is that you would never say these things to someone in person. It’s so frustrating that the anonymity provided by the internet makes it acceptable to hurt someone’s feeling and be cruel.

    1. Haha yes that was our reason, too! I’m replying to these after having just seen someone upload a video of their boyfriend in the shower on facebook, which makes me so glad there wasn’t this kind of mindset for sharing videos when I was a teenager, not that I remember showering in front of any boyfriends then haha.

      So true! Reminds me of the Louis CK joke about about how it’s acceptable to yell horrible things when driving at other drivers but you’d never get up into someone’s face in real life and yell “I HOPE YOU DIE!” Internet is the same.

  6. You know, I read an article about this yesterday. Some new platform is introducing a new way for people to share photos and videos online. Honestly, snapping photos or videos of dance moves, sexy photos, nudes whatever is something just about everyone in the world has done at one time or another…it’s just that not everyone posts them online. The worst part is that young girls are totally slut shamed while all the videos and snaps of penises out there make no dent whatsoever. It’s sad.

    1. Oh I’ll have to google this and see what other people have said! I always find there are wonderfully eloquent people out there who can say things better than I can. It is ridiculous to completely slut-shame teenage girls – it’s like people forget they’re young or think that they deserve it just because they’re teenage girls.

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