While many of us have written off the “sexy schoolgirl” aesthetic as a misogynistic joke exploited by men, pop stars and ill-advised college students on Halloween, every so often the subject comes up and needs to be addressed by someone other than a man justifying his attraction to underage women.
Today, my friends, that someone is me.
As a graduate of the largest all-girls Catholic high school in the United States, let’s just say I’ve heard the whole “Ooh, you went to McAuley. Did you wear a little plaid skirt?” from creepy men, old and young, many, many times. To some, schoolgirls are nothing but objects of fantasy. The knee-high socks, short skirts and — of course — pig tails. The reality of a same-sex high school (as I’m sure some of you have experienced) is nothing of the sort.
This week, Australian journalist Sam de Brito discussed the prevalence of the “sexy school girl” in pop culture, likely prompted by the upcoming Diablo Cody film, Jennifer’s Body. The film stars the actress I love to hate, Megan Fox, as a possessed high school cheerleader who kills her male classmates.
De Brito claims pop culture’s fascination with schoolgirls is simply an addiction to adolescence, and that it is unfair for society to condemn men for their attraction to “sexy school girls” while continuing the “rabid sexualisation” of them. He also claims that “the schoolgirl as sexual symbol is given power and exploited equally by woman, particularly in lesbian erotica.”
First of all, I’m not quite sure what lesbian erotica he is talking about. Surely not the erotica actual lesbians enjoy (though, I should say to each their own). Likely the stuff frat boys love — two blondes with boob jobs in thigh highs and plaid skirts during “play time” after school. But that’s not all, de Brito also claims that “For every lecher who leers at teen girls on a bus, there’s a cougar wearing pigtails and talking in girly voices at a fancy dress party.”
I’m pretty sure there is nothing that pisses me off more than that statement. Comparing an older woman who wants to dress like a teenager to a “lecher who leers at teen girls on a bus” is not even close to being the same thing. Statements like those are the last thing (some) men — who love to make women, particularly young girls, squirm with discomfort — need to hear.
While I agree that the “sexy schoolgirl” is a way for pop culture to get away with over-sexualizing underage girls, I in no way think leering, hollering and making young women uncomfortable is “profoundly natural and I daresay innocent” as de Brito claims. Trying to justify your attraction to a 15-year-old by saying “lesbians do it too!” or “Look at that 40-something woman wearing a plaid skirt!” is immature, sexist and just plain false.
Whatever Diablo Cody’s intentions were in making Jennifer’s Body about a schoolgirl surely had nothing to do with anything de Brito says in his ridiculous and blatantly sexist column, which you can read here if you want to get your daily dose of feminist rage.
What do you think of the sexy school girl’s place in pop culture?