As girls come of age sexually, the culture gives them impossibly contradictory messages…. Somehow girls are supposed to be innocent and seductive, virginal and experienced, all at the same time. As they quickly learn, this is tricky. Females have long been divided into virgins and whores, of course. What is new is that girls are now supposed to embody both within themselves. This is symbolic of the central contradiction of the culture—we must work hard and produce and achieve success and yet, at the same time, we are encouraged to live impulsively, spend a lot of money, and be constantly and immediately gratified. This tension is reflected in our attitudes toward many things, including sex and eating. Girls are promised fulfillment both through being thin and through eating rich foods, just as they are promised fulfillment through being innocent and virginal and through wild and impulsive sex…. The emphasis for girls and women is always on being desirable, not on experiencing desire…. advertisers can’t conceive of a kind of power that isn’t manipulative and exploitive or a way that women can be actively sexual without being like traditional men…. A young woman seems to have only two choices: She can bury her sexual self, be a ‘good girl,’ give in to what Carol Gilligan terms ‘the tyranny of nice and kind’ (and numb the pain by overeating or starving or cutting herself or drinking heavily). Or she can become a rebel—flaunt her sexuality, seduce inappropriate partners, smoke, drink flamboyantly, use other drugs. Both of these responses are self-destructive, but they begin as an attempt to survive, not to self-destruct. — Jean Kilbourne, “The More You Subtract, the More You Add”: Cutting Girls Down to Size
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