Wednesday 26 April 2017

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It’s a scary time to be raising teenage girls

This blog first appeared on Malta Today 

A 2015 documentary called Hot Girls Wanted follows a number of young girls in the US (all over 18, so technically “legal”) as they make the deliberate choice to get into the world of amateur porn.

They find the opportunity through Craigslist (equivalent to our Maltapark) where there are countless listings asking for “models”. The girls send their sexy photos, and they are sometimes even sent a free plane ticket to travel to Miami where the 23-year-old guy who runs the porn agency greets them. They all live in his house, and pay him rent, while he ferries them back and forth to the various shoots. He also gets a cut of 15% from their earnings.

These are not neglected girls from dysfunctional families, but wholesome, naive-looking girl next door types (who look younger than they are, which is part of the attraction) who are drawn into doing porn for this specific market. Their reason for doing it? The idea of making easy money “just’ for having sex. They also want to escape from their parents and their small towns where everyone seems to be stuck in dead end jobs working for the minimum wage. Going to college does not appeal to them at all because this seems more “glamorous” and it gives them the chance to do “exciting things” with the tantalizing prospect of becoming famous. You know, “Kim Kardashian famous” as the producers later explained when they were interviewed about their documentary. (She originally became famous, let’s not forget, after her sex tape was leaked.)

The Holy Grail for these girls is their ever increasing number of Instagram followers which shoots up every time they release a new video clip. They worry that their parents will find out what they are doing but as the owner of the agency cynically tells the interviewer, “their parents always find out, even if they live far away in a small town; after all everyone watches porn.”

As the documentary unfolds, it is soon apparent that the glamour is non-existent; they are sleeping on mattresses on the floor with clothes spilling out of their suitcases, and for the men in the industry they are disposable commodities whose freshness and “shelf life” will outlive its purpose in less than a year.

As one guy bluntly puts it, “Every day, a new girl turns 18”. Remember, these are not seasoned porn stars but amateurs because  porn has gone mainstream and “everyone is doing it”.

As for the money, yes, “it is right there in their face, cash, so they take it.” But the price they pay for it is grim.  In four months one girl made $25,000 but immediately ended up frittering away most of it.

I watched this depressing, often disturbing documentary because I am trying to genuinely understand the mindset of so many young girls today who are lured into doing sexy photo shoots by men who are quite obviously perverts. It is clear why the men are doing it (according to the Kinsey Institute, ‘teen’ is the most searched-for word on porn sites) but what I am trying to wrap my head around is why girls continue to be sucked in so easily. Even for the girls in the documentary who live in the States, the chances of becoming famous are highly remote, so I cannot even imagine what the Maltese girls who were in the news recently were thinking when they agreed to do certain photo shoots. The girls in question were over 14 years old and according to Court testimony, around 50 had been contacted through FB chat.
According to the report in Malta Today, “one photographer used Facebook to approach young girls who had posted sexually suggestive pictures of themselves….(he) lured underage girls to indecent photo shoots, some of which were actually allegedly carried out.” This is the reason I am so against bringing down the age of consent, because of despicable men like this who have no qualms about exploiting gullible, and still very immature girls.

I feel for parents today because it is a scary time to be raising teenage girls. As the documentary points out in its opening sequence, girls today are bombarded not only by sex tapes of those who go on to become reality stars, but by relentless sexual imagery in music videos which verge on soft porn.   What used to be considered adult content has now seeped in everywhere and being considered “sexy” and “hot” seem to have become ultimate life goals in themselves.  Of course, the thought of being sexually desired by so many men can be a heady experience for an adolescent girl, but being “hot” doesn’t last very long in this use and discard world.

Just ask those girls in that documentary, two of whom are now back home trying to rebuild their lives, and their sense of self-worth.   As one of them eventually realized, “Did I really want money that bad?”

 

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