Excerpt: This article explores the experience of young individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB), as they are silenced through the intentional destruction of their bodily autonomy through the means of hyper violent sexualization, and advocates for their inclusion in feminist discourses.
Adolescent ‘girls’ possess the ability to shape the future of our society and thus they experience the elite’s incessant endeavour to disempower the could-be threats. In order to protect the future of the patriarchy, ‘girls’ have had their voices shamed, assaulted, abused and hushed into silence before they can even use them. This article explores the experience of young individuals assigned female at birth (AFAB), as they are silenced through the destruction of their bodily autonomy through the means of hyper violent sexualization, and advocates for their inclusion in feminist discourses.
The hyper sexualization of adolescent ‘women’
‘Feminine’ sexuality has always been considered taboo; discourse around masturbation and genitalia belongs to ‘males’. The combination of learning, talking, joking about and drawing the ‘male’ body and the absence of it for the ‘feminine’, teaches adolescences that sex is something that happens to adolescent ‘girls’, instead of something they can enthusiastically and equally participate in. The duality of hyper sexualization and denial of sexual exploration condemns teen AFAB to a constant state of detrimental objectification in order to disempower them.
Beauty standards for ‘women’ are undeniably restrictive with many portrayals eliciting detrimental psychological effects upon all who interact with them. Furthermore, when one attempts to interrogate these unattainable ‘ideals’ a troubling pattern emerges; petite, hairless, thin, clear-skinned, blushing, and weaker than their masculine counterpart. The pattern continues into ‘desirable’ personality traits for ‘femininity’; pure, innocent, creative, impulsive, fanciful, bubbly, naïve, often shy or unconfident. To describe a societal ‘desirable’ woman one could argue the word “childish” encapsulates the ideal. This identification of seemingly feminine infantile appreciation is abundantly concerning and once acknowledged, different media tropes – such in movies or porn – legitimize this alarming discovery.
According to Pornhub’s Year in Review the porn category “teen” was the most popular search in 2014. It remained in the top 10 most popular searches until 2019 where it fell to 12th place.
The YouTube channel Pop Culture Detective produced a video essay in which they scrutinise a popular science fiction trope which they coined as Born Sexy Yesterday. This convention allows the mind of a child – with all the personality traits mentioned previously – to be placed into an acceptably adult body, serving as a male’s love interest.
The writer, Jonathan McIntosh, continues to describe the masculine contribution to this convention as dominant. They argue that the allure of the Born Sexy Yesterday ‘girl’, to male characters – and more concerningly – male audiences, is the power difference within the relationship – with the man possessing all the power. This convention not only romanticizes abusive power differences within relationships but specifically depicts the domination of an adolescent feminine personality as alluring to both male and female audiences.
The portrayal of feminine adolescent domination is also extremely prevalent within pornography. According to Pornhub’s Year in Review the porn category “teen” was the most popular search in 2014. It remained in the top 10 most popular searches until 2019 where it fell to 12th place. I would like to make clear that it is not just teenagers watching teenage porn. Only 25% of Pornhub visitors in 2019 were 18-24 years old.
Within mainstream media adolescent personalities are romanticised. Within pornography adolescent bodies are sexualized. The media we are producing, and consuming is portraying adolescent AFAB as desirable objects for not only their peers to relentlessly pursue but their elders as well, and society is listening.
The normalization of sexual violence
These copious amounts of pornography depicting adolescent AFAB is even more concerning when recognizing the increase of violence in portrayals of heterosexual intercourse. ‘Women’ – especially young ‘women’ – are often depicted as being aggressively and violently conquered sexually with titles that include descriptors like “destroyed” or “pounded”. As ‘women’ are objectified and reduced to living sex toys to aid in the desires of ‘men’, “rough” sex has become a norm within pornography and subsequentially reality. Teen ‘girls’ have had their sexuality stolen from them and commodified in such a way that promotes violence against them.
We are surrounded by a world that wants to choke, slap, spit, pull, degrade, pound, smash, and destroy us. A world that tells our classmates to pursue and “conquer” us and if and when they do, we are forced to continue living within the same institutions, classrooms, and sitting areas as our abusers.
Throughout my high school years, I was bullied by the majority of my conservative cohort. In grade ten, I had a classmate pay another to sexually harass me online. In grade twelve, a screen recording of an Instagram ‘story’ depicting me in my underwear was distributed without my permission. Countless of my close friends and I experienced sexual violence and assault. I personally felt the effects of the weaponization of ‘women’s’ bodies. I felt powerless and trapped, silenced and hopeless. However, my classmates weren’t cartoonish villains with no moral code. They were the result of a society where adolescent AFAB bodies were seen as objects to be used for masculine pleasure and desire. We are surrounded by a world that wants to choke, slap, spit, pull, degrade, pound, smash, and destroy us. A world that tells our classmates to pursue and “conquer” us and if and when they do, we are forced to continue living within the same institutions, classrooms, and sitting areas as our abusers.
The reclaiming of AFAB adolescence
Adolescence should not be sexy or desirable or be an ideal. It should not be in porn searches at all, let alone the top ten. Adolescence should be a time of self-discovery, not a time where you’re shouted at from cars, sent vulgar messages, or have your body turned against you. But it is. And until it’s not, teenage ‘girls’ need a place where they can share their experiences because they are far more experienced than they should have to be. They need to be welcomed into feminist discourse to not just listen but to speak. We must encourage our adolescent ‘girls’ to have a voice, so that they may be equipped to combat their active disempowerment. Listen to your youngsters and they’ll in turn listen to you.
Fight the New Drug. (2019, August 28). “Teen”: Why Has This Porn Category Topped The Charts For 6+ Years? Retrieved from Fight the New Drug: https://fightthenewdrug.org/this-years-most-popular-genre-of-porn-is-pretty-messed-up/
Insights, P. (2019, December 11). The 2019 Year in Review. Retrieved from PornHub Insights: https://www.pornhub.com/insights/2019-year-in-review
Macdonald, B. (2020, December 27). Retrieved from Unsplash: https://unsplash.com/photos/mlIJPeG3jOM/info
McIntosh, J. (2017, April 28). Born Sexy Yesterday. Retrieved from Pop Culture Detective: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0thpEyEwi80