Monday, February 22, 2010

Risky Business - Partying in Underwear Is Not Cool

by Cassie Nelson

In 1983's Risky Business, Tom Cruise made a high school boy partying in private in his underwear the stuff of Hollywood legend. Twenty-seven years later, a junior and a senior at Dr. Michael Krop Senior High School thought it would be fun to throw a "lingerie party," which amounted to a night of extensive promiscuity as teens partied in their panties. And, in 2010, there was nothing private about it.

The Valentine's Day weekend party was held at former strip club in a seedy neighborhood in Miami, Florida. The theme and surroundings encouraged teens to drink heavily, wear hardly anything, and act outrageously. The price of admission: $25, and all of the underclassmen at my school were paying.

In class, I overheard three sophomore guys describe what they would be wearing: “Red silk boxers, no shirt, and a bow-tie.” Boys talked about the abs they'd been doing every night so they'd look good for the girls, who'd hardly be wearing anything at all. One guy even said he would be shaving his stomach for the occasion.

Although they just wanted to go out and have fun, these young adults were either completely unaware of the possible repercussions of their actions, or they just didn't care. The day after the party, pictures of them intoxicated and scantily clad would be all over Facebook, the world's largest social networking website. Only when it affects them in the future will they realize what they've done to themselves and each other. 

"Sexting" is already a massive issue at my school. Every few months, pictures of a naked girl spread through the school within minutes, until everyone, whether they want to or not, has seen them. Most of the boys save them, either on their phones or computers. The problem never ceases because the girl is too afraid and too embarrassed to go to school administrators or police -- even in a case as severe as a boy secretly recording his sexual activity with a girl and sending it to all his friends. 

Sometimes, a girl sends her nude photos to one boy, a boy she probably likes or has feelings for -- only to have the boy send it to all his friends, who then sent it to all of their friends. If caught, they all could be tried on child pornography charges.

 Technically, distributing naked pictures of teenage girls under the age of 18 is considered child pornography. If caught, the boys or men could face jail time and/or have to register as sex offenders -- a burden they would carry all their lives. It doesn't matter if the girl took the pictures herself, or if the photos were sent to someone younger than 18. It's still child porn. 

The lingerie party photos, though sleazy, don't count because the girls weren't nude.

Neither I nor most of the other senior girls went to the party. Most didn’t want to be surrounded by the younger students. But some also understood that they'd have no control over whether pictures of them clad in skimpy lingerie spread across the the Internet. One of the people throwing the party was a girl in her senior year. Once the hosts began promoting the party, high school principals from all over Dade County contacted her, demanding that she shut down the party before anyone was hurt, in the present or the future. She refused, and on that Saturday night, hundreds of boys and girls left their homes in normal “mall attire” over the lingerie until they got to the doors of the party.

That, I later learned (and saw on Facebook), was when the street clothes came off and the craziness began. In lingerie and boxers, the girls and boys were unable to relate to anyone there in any sort of normal way. The mood of the party went from the regular, have-fun sort to a totally sex-centered atmosphere, heightened by drinking and smoking. I believe those who may have felt a little inhibited by the way they were dressed -- or not dressed -- used the drugs and alcohol much earlier and more heavily than others.

The photos that appeared online that night and the next day were disturbing. The party was at a former strip club, so the girls were dancing on the poles and bar, wearing next to nothing and drunkenly oblivious to the camera phones snapping their pictures. Even more unsettling is that some of those girls posted those images as their main profile photos -- the default photo anyone can see -- on Facebook. Apparently, they really feel that they need to look promiscuous to be popular. 

But while the fun is fleeting, the Internet is forever. What happens when they want to get into a good university? When they start looking for a job in their profession? When they hope to play a college or pro sport or teach for a living? These pictures could haunt them forever, hindering their potential for success in the real world. The real world is not the one portrayed on TV in shows and commercials where everyone is either trying to have sex, having sex, or talking about the sex they had or want to have. (Pictured above: Actress Vanessa Hudgens in cell phone photo scandal of 2007. Sources say she "learned her lesson.")

Lingerie parties are just a symptom of a society and a generation that has lost sight of what is important. Instead of doing crunches and spending good money on ridiculous stripper outfits, teens in other eras involved themselves in social causes. Today, one of the worst problems I believe we face is the sexual abuse of women, through rape, domestic violence, and human trafficking. The line defining acceptable behavior keeps receding from the moral boundaries  needed to protect women and girls. If we see ourselves as sex objects, how can we expect others to see us anything else?


Kathryn Casey said...

Great post, Cassie. You're right: those photos may follow many of them for life.

Janet Braunstein said...

Thanks, Cassie, for showing us what these techno-abuses look like to the people most directly affected by them.

McKee said...

Great post - I can't imagine growing up in a time when every vulnerable moment might be caught on camera for someone else's amusement. Even for those who are completely conscientious of their actions and how it affects their future selves, moving into adult is often an awkward and trepidatious experience that should not be available for public consumption.

Considering how well documented the damage can be for celebrities who grow up in front of the cameras, I'm surprised so many seem to want to join there ranks.

Blogger said...

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