Girls Gone Wild or Wild Women? or: We Never Had Nasty Sluts When I Were A Lad

Reading an article about women’s violence at Schoolies’s Week recently prompted me to pull this languishing post out of my Drafts folder. This snippet exemplifies the phenomenon of low levels of criminal or “disorderly” behaviour by young women being given greater weight than the same behaviour from young men – though the men are being arrested nearly ten times as much. There’s a bonus bit of selective memory at the end, characteristic of Yoof-Of-Today (which shall henceforth be known as YOT) anxiety:

“Girl power turns ugly and violent during Schoolies Week

They are the shiny, silver bracelets teenage girls would never factor into their well-planned outfits. But an increasing tendency for young girls to booze and brawl along with the blokes is seeing them slapped in handcuffs.

Nowhere is this cultural change being seen more openly than the drunk-fest of Schoolies Week on the Gold Coast, which has become a veritable petri dish for psychologists who have seen “daddy’s little girl” morph into the rock chick from hell. […]

Thirty people were arrested on Saturday night. Only three were girls, so they remain a minority, but casual observers of the event over the years say the difference in behaviour of young women is still striking.

“You see a lot of girls fighting each other these days, even though this year has been quieter,” said freelance photographer Marc Robertson, who has covered the event for five years. “I’m 40 but you never saw girls fighting like this when I was younger, and I grew up in Townsville.”

Opinion columns regularly bristle with moral panics about “wild” young women, but, like most moral panics about the YOT (Yoof of Today), these are nothing new.

I’ve been casting a cynical eye over the interpretation and public comment on Australian crime statistics for a while now. Specifically, I’ve been contemplating crime statistics, gender, and the conflation of sexual and otherwise non-demure behaviour with violent crime.

Last year we had this in the West:

“Drunken women turn to violence – police crime stats”

Latest crime statistics show more drunken and loutish behaviour by so-called ladettes — girls who mimic the binge-drinking and brawling antics of male louts. The number of women arrested for assault and anti-social behaviour in 2007 was 30 per cent up on 2005 figures. […]

“It is a changing world for our officers who are facing increasing aggression from young women,” Acting Assistant Commissioner Dwayne Bell said. “These are alarming trends. There is an increase in violent incidents, but what is more disturbing is the greater increase in aggressive anti-social behaviour. What is just as alarming is the hidden picture, the anecdotal evidence from my officers of other incidents where the aggressive behaviour of the woman has inflamed a situation.”

What is Commissioner Bell trying to say between the lines here? He is more alarmed by ‘aggressive behaviour’ than by actual violent crime? Hm, that definitely sounds like a moral panic in the making. His latter statement is particularly revealing. “Where the aggressive behaviour of the woman has inflamed a situation.” Is he talking about altercations between police and women, or is he talking about situations where the woman is a victim of a violent crime, and she doesn’t roll over and take it like a lady? I’m not sure.

Let’s read on.

“Girls Gone Wild”

Around the same time, the Age published this:

“Girls gone wild?”

Police statistics show that the rate of women arrested for crimes against the person — including homicide, rape, sexual assault, robbery and assault — increased from 2005 to 2007. However, according to Australian Institute of Criminology figures covering Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, overall female offending rates increased only for assault between 1995 and 2006. The rate rose 40% for women, compared with 15% for male offenders. […]

Popular culture carries the momentum, bringing feisty women to our television screens: Buffy, Roseanne, and Seinfeld’s Elaine. […]

But the evidence of women taking on more “male” forms of crime, and the potential links between drinking and violence, are complex.


“Women populate public space now more than they once did, often in the company of men, and it would be interesting to track where violent incidents occur,” says Dr Sue Davies, a senior criminology lecturer at La Trobe University.

Few jobs, sports and leisure activities remain inaccessible to women, and as well as rubbing shoulders with men, they can be rubbed up the wrong way. “The violence may well be happening in and around social venues where women drink and might get involved in violence with men,” says Davies.

There’s a lot more at the link – it’s a quite nuanced article. Check it out. I still don’t know what Davies meant when she talking about women getting “involved in violence with men”, though. As victims or as perpetrators?

It’s the “Girls Gone Wild” framing I’d like to focus on. The universal infantilisation of women as “girls” has long been an irritation to adult women. The “Wild” wording is interesting and perhaps rather more layered.

Firstly, “wild” women are supposedly out of control, untamed. What is the deeper connotation? Are we as women no longer in control of ourselves, or are we no longer controlled by men? I’d argue that it’s a bit of both; women are not accepting the rule of men as a given, nor are we acting “ladylike” all of the time. As soon as some women starting acting in ways that have been considered masculine in the past, we are considered feral. Undomesticated. Wild.

The next layer carries the meanings “ferocious” and “frightening”. Women out of control are no longer meek, no longer submissive. There are perhaps some racist “primitive” overtones wrapped up in here, especially once you consider that Indigenous women are disproportionately targeted by police and imprisoned; I have no doubt that some users of this term are also connoting, consciously or unconsciously, ideas of a “uncivilisation”, of a “return to the savage”.

Lastly, there’s the pornographic connotations. “Girls Gone Wild” is such a huge porn genre that you can’t argue that journalists and copy-writers aren’t aware of it when choosing their terms. The sexualisation is inescapable, and it is tied up with ideas about women’s sexuality out of control, of societally-unacceptable lust, of slut-shaming. At the same time, there is an air of voyeurism about it all, a touch of a nudge-nudge-wink-wink beneath those words.

I think these strata of meaning are part of what gives this particular “girls gone wild” notion so much traction: some people get to tut over it, some people get to fap over it, and some do both.

Sixty Minutes took this approach: “Girls will be Boys” (video and transcript at link):

It’s their idea of a fun night out but there’s nothing pretty about it.

Half-naked, foul-mouthed women throwing down too much booze and throwing themselves at too many men.

And to cap off the evening, they’re just as likely to pick a fight.

They’re called ladettes or yobettes, a new breed of young woman hell-bent on outdoing the blokes and they’re truly frightening, violent, selfish, with no sense of shame.

Note the naturalisation of drunken violence as a sign of normal masculinity. The Age article was guilty of this also, referring to “more “male” forms of crime”. Men, the default humans, are “thugs”; when women engage in this behaviour, we don’t even have a word for it, but refer to them in diminutive, feminine forms: ladette, yobette, thugette.

When men get messy, they’re just being “one of the boys”; male violent crime is a force of nature, not something to be ashamed of. When women do it, they have made bad choices, they have “no sense of shame”, it’s a crime against nature. The biggest offence is not against the victims of crime, but against notions of being ladylike. Here you can see the conflation of violent crime with overtly sexual behaviour in women: the double threat.

How many articles have you read about young men’s violent crime where the speaker also went off into a rant about the young men “throwing themselves at too many women”? How many articles about men’s punch-ups have you read where someone felt the need to primly discuss how unpretty the men were while fighting? I get the impression the writer here is less appalled by violence than by women not being demurely sexy.

In a society where a bit of biffo is not just an adolescent folly but a compulsory rite of manhood, there is no equivalent for young women. Fisticuffs are apparently to be expected and humoured among young men, unless perhaps someone gets seriously hurt; but when women participate, it’s suddenly horrifying. Feature films depict adolescent female violence as catfighting, to shock or titillate, while we’re expected to smile indulgently, even cheer, as men train downtrodden boys to punch to rearrange their pecking order or reassert their “honour”.

What of we feminists who find it horrifying that boys and young men are not just expected but encouraged to engage in violence? Why are our voices so marginalised?

Columnist Daille Pepper reflects the malestream double standard tidily in her “Pep Talk” column, The Lost Art of Being A Woman. Note that while her column starts with the teenage-girl crime panic, she betrays her true agenda with the inclusion of certain non-crimes in her list of Offences Against Ladyness:

Stories of girls shagging all over the shop, fighting, wearing slutty outfits, being out of their heads in public and acting generally yobbo-like are multiplying.

This type of behaviour shouldn’t be encouraged in either sex, but it’s somehow worse in young women. It’s time something was done.

It’s not about women beating folks up or robbing houses, is it? It’s all about Teh Sluts In Public. Once again, no matter what a woman does, be it societally acceptable or societally unacceptable, everything is boiled down to sexual evaluations.

The Statistics

What are the actual numbers? Is this an “epidemic” we should be panicking about? Are women on the fast track to becoming more violent than men? Here’s the West again, all in a tizzy:

Yobbo culture blamed for rise in crime by girls

WA girls are turning increasingly to violence and crime, with new figures showing a 70 per cent rise in offences by females 18 and under in the past three years.

WA Police warned yesterday that a yobbo culture had developed among girls similar to young men and police were being inundated with reports of drunken, antisocial behaviour by females.

Police statistics show that the number of females 18 and under arrested or charged in WA increased from 1259 in 2005 to 2127 last year. Stealing was the most common offence, followed by underage driving and disorderly behaviour in public.

Acting Insp. Cameron Taylor, from the central metropolitan district, said girls were now less likely to try to keep the peace in tense situations and were often antagonistic and aggressive, even towards police.

Eva Cox, head of the Women’s Electoral Lobby, was on to this in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Ladettes lead upsurge in female crime

The number of women found guilty of crimes has jumped dramatically, partly as a result of alcohol-fuelled young “ladettes” trying to emulate young males. […]

Paul Dillon, director of Drug and Alcohol Research and Training Australia, said minor offences were often linked to alcohol.[…] “The whole idea of gangs of young women committing offences was something that was most probably not really heard of 10 years ago.”

The number of young women offenders has risen 17 per cent in the past four years, compared to just 4.5 per cent for men. […]

[Eva Cox said] it was not something to be alarmed about because crime rates for women were still low – about 19 per cent of those found guilty of crimes are women.

“The hard-drinking, hard-driving larrikin lout is still being seen as the model of how to impress society,” she said. “For women looking for equal status, sometimes by being equal to inappropriate male culture is the only way to go.”

But, she said, it was not something to be alarmed about because crime rates for women were still low – about 19 per cent of those found guilty of crimes are women.

“There are no ravaging hordes of women about to attack men,” Dr Cox said. […]

So has there been a dramatic change over the past decade, as Paul Dillon asserts? Let’s have a peek at some hard statistics, Police Arrests and Juvenile Cautions, WA, 2006. Of those issued a juvenile precaution without arrest, 70.2% were male, and this figure has been fairly steady over 15 years, varying between 67.5 (1994) and 76.8 (1996).

Of the distinct persons arrested:

* 28852 males, 2448 of whom were under 18
* 7560 females, 650 of whom under 18
* 79.2% of the total were male, and 79% of under-18s were male
* Of all arrest events, 83.1% of the arrestees were male

Since 1996 there have been increases in the proportions of arrest events involving Indigenous people (from
27.2% in 1996 to 38.5% in 2006), but moderate changes in those involving females (from 18.7% in 1996 to
20.5% in 2006)

Figure 11a-d: Trends in distinct persons arrested, by sex, age status and Indigenous
status, 1996-2006

juvenile arrests, male and female, over ten years. The graph completely fails to show a large increase in the numbers of young women arrested.

Can you see an “epidemic” of arrests of young women over the past decade?

Note also that arrests don’t necessarily correlate with the commission of crimes. I can’t find anything on a gendered difference in crime-to-arrest ratio. If these police officers are perceiving female “yobbish” offences as particularly inappropriate, there might be a difference that operates against women. This could as easily go the other direction; it’s possible that male “yobbish” offences are perceived as more threatening. I’d like to see any good research on that, if anyone has a link.

The SMH article continues:

The University of NSW law academic Chris Cunneen said while some argued women were becoming more violent, others believed the courts were more prepared to criminalise women.

“The truth is probably somewhere in between,” he said.

And in the Age’s “Girls Gone Wild?“:

But are they? Feminist criminologists are quick to warn that women are often judged more harshly than men for seemingly inappropriate behaviour. “If women behave aggressively, it’s more quickly pathologised as not being feminine enough,” says University of Melbourne criminology researcher Antonia Quadara.

“If binge-drinking is seen as aping male behaviour, it’s still seen as more problematic for women than it is for men. There’s an association of women as uncontrollable. When they step outside rigid stereotypes of what’s acceptable, they’re seen as behaving worse than men.”

Conor believes perceptions of drunk or violent women are governed by “a class reading, rather than a gender one; they are seen as trash”.

Victoria Police inspector Paul Ross insists that, on Melbourne’s nightlife streets, women and men are treated equally when drunk or violent. Despite the statistics, he hasn’t witnessed any great change in rates of female offending in the inner city.

In his experience, drunk women are more at risk of being victims of violence or sexual assault, than perpetrators.

“Wild Women” of the Early 20th Century

I am reminded of nothing more than the panic over non-domesticated “wild women” in the early 20th century. There also there was a strong panic about women and alcohol. This was at least partially rooted in eugenics concerns, with alcohol branded a “racial poison”, and women’s use of alcohol considered a threat to the species. Around the same time, suffragettes involved in public protests and vandalism were vilified in much the same vein, being a moral threat to the social order of women’s subservience. Quiet, submissive, sober, domestic, maternal women were considered “natural”; women’s non-conformance was fought by dubbing their behaviours “unnatural”, deviant, and therefore bad. Legal deviance (participation in politics) and illegal deviance (violence) were vilified in much the same manner.

Charles Booth offers an example of this anxiety (as quoted in Women’s Suffrage in the British Empire, by Fletcher, Mayhall, and Levine). Booth was presenting an inquiry into the “babits of the London poor” in the early 20th century:

There is, as regards these habits, a consensus of opinion which to my mind carries conviction, that while there is more drinking there is less drunkenness than formerly, and that the increase in drinking is to be laid mainly to the account of the male sex. This latter phase seems to be one of the unexpected results of the emancipation of women. On the one hand she has become more independent of man, industrially and financially, and on the other more of a comrade than before, and in neither capacity does she feel any shame at entering the public-house.

Isn’t this sounding familiar?

Rosamund Billington examined the suffrage movement in “Ideology and Feminism: Why the Suffragettes were “Wild Women(Women‘s Studies Int. Forum, 5(6) pp663-674, 1982, doi:10.1016/0277-5395(82)90107-8 [h/t matidazq]):

Once middle-class feminists engaged in behaviour deemed “unwomanly” for women of their status they forfeited normal respect and “chivalry”. It was implied that female suffrage speakers flaunted their attractiveness and were of dubious moral character. They were referred to as itinerant lecturers, at a time when such people were accorded low status. Memoirs of women active int he twentieth-century movement make clear that women selling suffrage newspapers and advertising the cause in the streets were subjected to obscene insults by male passers-by. Once women’s behaviour expanded beyond the traditional constraints of gender they were stigmatized in terms of stereotypes of “masculine” women, and ridicule and doubt cast upon their sexual normality and respectability.

Note that I am not here equating getting drunk and rowdy with participation in the suffrage movement – far from it, given the strong theme of Temperance morality in much of the movement! Rather, I am comparing the ways in which women who don’t conform to expected gender roles are labelled “deviant”, “wild”, and masculinised; the ways in which that construction of deviance is, apparently inescapably, tied up with disparaging references to those women’s sexuality; and the ways in which that “deviance” is attributed to feminist movements.

Here’s more on alcohol anxiety from Mikkel Hinhede, Danish doctor, in 1903 (quoted in “Alcohol as a Gender Symbol”):

“Women’s emancipation is on the agenda nowadays. Women are to become equal to men. Unfortunately, it seems to be mostly men’s vices that women are acquiring. I think that women should first acquire the men’s good properties, their energy and working capacity, and then such things as tobacco, wine, and lack of prudery could come when the opportunity arises!”

Around the same time, Sofus Rasmussen, Copenhagen temperance activist, opined:

“One often sees women in cafés and variety theatres drinking lager, porter, and punch, while the men drink coffee or tea. This is deplorable, since this does not make women become manly or worth more; they merely lose the femininity and the fragrance of purity and only achieve the prospect of potentially becoming addicted and disgusting.”

More panic about women and alcohol

Splitting the difference, in 1965, from the 4 Corners archive, on the battle for women’s rights to drink in public bars in Queensland:

JOHN PENLINGTON: Would you be in favour of allowing women to drink in a public bar? Or buy liquor there?

HAROLD DEANE: Personally, in my own feelings, I would say ‘no’. But to be looking at it from a broad point of view and a point of view that each and every one of us has a right to please ourselves, uh, I feel that they would have a right from their point of view. But personally, I wouldn’t like to see them take advantage of that, having an open go as far as women drinking in bars.

JOHN PENLINGTON: What reasons do you have for this view?

HAROLD DEANE: Well, for one thing, the prestige of womanhood is too high and it’s too valuable and too precious to be destroyed by — ..by a vulgarism, to use — for want of a better word. I think it is a vulgarism to stoop to such an action, for women to want to frequent the atmosphere of a public bar.

In other words, I don’t think it’s a place for a woman to be. […]

DR PETER DELAMOV (Minister for Justice in Queensland): I believe that there is a very great difference between public bars, generally speaking, in Queensland, compared with other States. The drinking habits of the denizens of public bars are probably quite different and we feel, as at now, that they’re not suitable places for the gentler sex to make a habit of frequenting.

JOHN PENLINGTON: What do you think would happen if these restrictions were lifted right now?

DR PETER DELAMOV: I think that, uh, you’d probably get just a handful of women taking advantage of it and their experiences with — in a public bar, would probably make them desist fairly quickly.

And, from a recent anti-alcohol ad campaign, labelled “Drink like a man”, this advertisement, stating “If you drink like a man – you might end up looking like one.” The campaign, drawing on transphobic stereotypes, features a photo of a person with wrinkled, coarse blotchy skin, a reddened rhinophyma nose, and garish makeup and blue eye shadow, in an attempt to scare women into not drinking lest they end up looking like this:

person with wrinkled, coarse blotchy skin, a reddened rhinophyma nose, and garish blue eye shadow. Capped If you drink like a man, you might end up looking like one

Each Generation Thinks It Invented Wild Women

And so, we see that very little has changed in the past hundred years. Each generation panics about the “masculinisation” of women in similar ways. Young women are thought to be newly violent, newly drunk, newly sexual, newly non-conformist with compulsory domesticity. This is the essence of the conservative viewpoint: the past is painted in fiction, is held up as a utopia of gender-differentiated social order, while the youth of the present are a threat to the maintenance of clearly-delineated gender roles.

And feminism is blamed, over and over again, for this so-called “degeneration”.

Feminism is blamed for this thing that’s being labelled “false emancipation”. Women are supposedly confused about what constitutes liberation. We are expected to unilaterally choose to take on only the morally superior roles available to men. Neo-feminists-of-convenience don’t expect women to be equal to men; no, we are expected to be superior, to be a new superbreed of human combining only the gendered roles and behaviours considered to be more genteel, more classy, more valued.

But equality is messy. People are flawed, and women are people. As women and men inch slowly towards equal treatment in society, perhaps we should expect to see women and men’s less savoury behaviour to inch closer to equality also. To expect otherwise would perhaps be to believe in an innate inferiority of men – and that’s not what feminism is about. Only those who subscribe to gender essentialism believe that men are naturally more violent than women.

Only those who have distorted notions of feminism believe that what we’re working towards is more violence by women; rather we work towards less violence by everyone, regardless of gender. And, above all, we work against double standards. We work against the confusion of women’s sexual behaviour with crime; we work against the confusion of women’s use of social drugs with crime. We work against the same behaviour being considered more disturbing when exhibited by women than when exhibited by men. We work against the concept of “ladylikeness” in all its forms.

We work against the idea that women’s visible sexuality or alcohol is a sign of ferality, is the “ugly side of feminism”, is “feminism gone mad”. We work against the vilification of “uppity sluts”, against the idea that women who behave in legal ways that harm none are equivalent to violent criminals, against the idea that women who engage in these behaviours are asking for violence against them, against the idea that they are less deserving of regular legal protection than demure women. And we work against the idea that women who do engage in illegal behaviours are less deserving of legal protection than men in a similar situation, because they are somehow supposed to be more deviant, more threatening, more degenerate.

Where Are We Headed?

How expected is this very slight increase in violence by young women, to you? Do you think it is an inevitable component of the current state of play, as a step along the road in this process of the sexes becoming slowly more equal? Or is it the result of young women taking on violent behaviour traditionally considered as masculine because that’s the only alternative some of them see to submissive feminine behaviours? Is there no answer to this – is this is a false binary?

I think that in a world where violence is part of the spectrum of human behaviour, in a world where many types of violence are valorised, and in a world where young people can lead their own lives, some young people of all sexes will try on or adopt violent roles to varying degrees.

That doesn’t mean we as a society need to stop it with this equality malarkey; it means we need to stop it with the violence.

This is a key part of feminism for me; freedom from violence for everybody. Including freedom from violence by police, and including freedom violence against women; but not confined to those freedoms.

Starting with young women, constructing young women as the biggest scariest problem because they’re just starting, in small numbers, to adopt some of the entrenched violent behaviours exhibited by men – and in some cases, because they’re just starting to fight back? That’s where things are going badly wrong.

And stop it with the slut-shaming, already.

~~~

Notes that are probably obvious but I’ll make them anyway:
(1) Emphases in quotes are mine.
(2) I don’t condone violent crime by anyone.
(3): no nobinary genders are recorded in police statistics or in any of the media articles; some of the genders of young people have obviously been mis-recorded, but I don’t think correcting that would change the overall statistics dramatically.
]



Categories: culture wars, gender & feminism, history, law & order, violence

Tags: , , , , , ,

18 replies

  1. The one thing that strikes me that you didn’t touch on, because there’s a lot here, is the rate at which indigenous women are being arrested. The fact that those numbers are going up hitting a 2 to 1 ration when compared to non indigenous arrest is doubly alarming.

  2. koipond – yes, and as you say that’s a huge area in itself, and something we have blogged about here in the past. There are a lot of organisations talking about indigenous incarceration and the issues and effects around it, from the Aboriginal Deaths in Custody report onwards.
    I didn’t talk much about how this particular gendered phenomenon is heavily classed, either – was saving that for a future post.

  3. Monster post Lauredhel!!
    (One for FF101?)
    Have these people emoting about “Girls Gorn Wild” never read any social histories of / primary documents from the Victorian era (the underclass, rather than the piano-leg-covering bourgeoisie we’re always reminded of?)
    Oh, and
    freelance photographer Marc Robertson, who has covered the event for five years…
    Oh REALLY. A “freelance photographer ” who repeatedly goes to photograph Schoolies. We have a word for people like him down here in Victoria – Toolies. “Come up to my studio darlin’, I’m a Freelance Photographer.”

  4. Ah, so I wasn’t the only one picking up on the creepitudinous undertones of that “freelance photographer” thing. How did this dude somehow get attributed with authority in speaking about this issue?
    I’m getting a real Peeping Tom vibe from this shot.

  5. I’m glad you dug this one out of the drafts folder – so much meat for thought! The absolute horror of women acting “inappropriately” i.e. to amuse themselves rather than gratify men!

  6. Obviously Marc Robertson has never been to a B&S ball…

  7. Yes, got to worry about those girls on the balcony, dressed in bikini tops and little shorts. Anyone would think they were on holidays at the beach or something.

  8. I love Eva Cox. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her make a statement that wasn’t precisely the voice of good sense we needed to hear.

  9. And so, we see that very little has changed in the past hundred years. Each generation panics about the “masculinisation” of women in similar ways. Young women are thought to be newly violent, newly drunk, newly sexual, newly non-conformist with compulsory domesticity.
    Hell, a tablet was found from ancient Egypt decrying immodest women (along with disrespectful children, inattendance at temples, both corrupt governments and distrust of authority complete with the non-recognition of the contradiction, and other Foxy talking points; with surely the end of the world being nigh).

  10. “Popular culture carries the momentum, bringing feisty women to our television screens: Buffy, Roseanne, and Seinfeld’s Elaine.”
    I just love that! Yes, as soon as women all over the world saw Elaine on Seinfeld the rate at which they were violent, drunk, promiscuous, unladylike or criminal just increased exponentially, don’cha know? And don’t get me started on the ones running around doing karate kicks and staking people through the heart. WHEN WILL THIS MADNESS END?

  11. Mindy @9…
    Personally I was more concerned (troll) about the boys without shirts on. I mean, they are LITERALLY half-dressed! Why oh why must our young men feel the need to objectify themselves in this way? Clearly they are slaves to the pornification of pop culture, have no self-esteem and feel that baring their flesh to get girls to like them is the only route to self-actualisation.
    Teh horrors.

  12. And don’t get me started on the ones running around doing karate kicks and staking people through the heart.
    Well, we have to do *something* with the white picket fences now.
    Excellent brilliant post. I’ll be using those temperence quotes frequently, I’m sure.

  13. The newspapers don’t seem to get that rates of ‘offending’ among young people are not really a reflection of levels of criminality in the community, but rather reflect race/class/gender dynamics, policing processes, changes to legislation, like the Bail Act for example and increased powers of scumbag cops to impose bail conditions etc. or that most young people who have contact with the justice system once, don’t usually have any more contact at all, or minimal contact. It’s amazing how they can take a bunch of social issues and spin them into an “women are becoming such sluts!” narrative.
    Also, the temperence and suffragist movements weren’t really linked, although they both supported voting rights, except in the myths generated by male hegemony. Consistent with the ‘damned if you do damned if you don’t’ paradigm that women get caught up in, suffragists were criticised for being unruly, but the temperence women were accused of trying to ruin everyone’s (meaning men’s) fun for being anti-alcohol, even though the rationale was mostly to do with alcohol as a factor in VAW.
    I’d like to think that if young women are becoming more assertive in public then it’s in response to the increased misogyny and predation of young men.

  14. Correct me if I’m misremembering the events from Buffy, but didn’t bad things happen to Buffy if she drank alcohol or had sex?

  15. Purrdence: Oh, you’re not misremembering in the slightest. Innocence and Beer Bad are the classic episodes where this happens (and Beer Bad is fairly widely recognised as the worst episode of Buffy ever). There are several other examples of Buffy sex = doom scattered throughout the series – the also-horrendous episode Where the Wild Things Are (by the same writer as Beer Bad, Tracey Forbes) springs to mind.
    But, according to this author, I guess Buffy is a violent little scrag who picks fights, so …yeah. You know, like Elaine. You were expecting Earth logic?

  16. But in Where the Wild Things Are the blame is squarely laid on those who fought to supress adolescents’ natural sexuality, and on the repression, not on the sex. I also found Beer Bad pretty funny, so maybe I’m not the best judge.

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