Recently my sister bought me a gift certificate to a popular lingerie store. As I picked out a bra there, a girl no older than 15 walked in with six guys ranging in age from roughly 14 to 18. The boystheir laughter awkward, edgynudged the girl toward a rack of revealing lingerie and took turns picking out several sheer, barely-there outfits for her to try on. As they placed the outfits in the girl's arms, her face looked young and vulnerable. But as I tried to catch her eye, the boys veered her toward the changing area.
I saw her feet as she dropped her jeans. A sales clerk stood near me, so I pointed to the boys lounging against her open dressing room door. "What are you going to do?" I asked.
"There's nothing I can do," she said. "This happens all the time."
As a woman and as a mom, I was appalled. I mentioned that the girl was underage, but the clerk shrugged her shoulders, turned away, and started folding underwear. I spotted the store manager across the room. She frowned as she studied the scene. I held up my hands as if to say, Do you see this?
She also turned away.
I walked over to the changing area and placed myself between the boys and the open door. "You have to leave," I said.
One boy leaned forward. I could feel his breath on my face. "Who's going to make me?"
"You're not my mom," another said, backing up his friend.
"You're right, I'm not your mom. But this is really wrong, and I'm not going to let it happen."
One guy busted through the tight circle and pushed close. "I'll see her later anyway," he said. "What's the big deal?"
"She's the big deal. I'm not going to let you do this," I said.
I could hear the girl pulling on her jeans. The guys turned and walked away. She cautiously slipped out of the dressing room and followed them. The store manager stood at a distance and stared at methe woman who'd created a scene. I was so angry I wanted to cry.
Girls Going Wild
On a recent Oprah Winfrey Show, the popular host spent an entire hour discussing the "culture of raunch," the increasing vulgarity permeating our media, fashion, and celebrity culture. One of her guests was Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture. Levy, 30, prompted a national debate when she concluded in her book that by exploiting themselves, women have become, in essence, female chauvinists.
"Only 30 years ago, our mothers were supposedly burning their bras and picketing Playboy, and suddenly we were getting breast implants and wearing the bunny logo as symbols of our liberation," Levy wrote in a 2006 op-ed piece published in the Sydney Morning Herald. "How has the culture shifted so drastically in such a short time?"