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April 23rd, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Gut Check: Are we living in a 'dirty girl' culture?

Women in pop culture are depicted as either angelic, as in Taylor Swift, or not, as in Snooki from “Jersey Shore,” says feminist author Jaclyn Friedman.

Women in pop culture are depicted as either angelic, as in Taylor Swift, or not, as in Snooki from “Jersey Shore,” says feminist author Jaclyn Friedman.

By Carol Costello and Ronnie Berke, CNN

(CNN) – You see it everywhere – in videos, movies and even TV shows. Young women who are rude, crude and sometimes very, very drunk. Are we living in a “dirty girl” culture? Or are these just examples of kids having fun and nothing to worry about? Time for a Gut Check.

The newest “dirty girl” is the violent tween in the movie, “Kick Ass.” Her potty-mouth rants would do Chelsea Handler proud. Handler, whose raunchy sex talk and love of alcohol have fueled three best-sellers, is more popular than ever.

Pop star Ke$ha’s hit song “Tik Tok” celebrates promiscuity and drinking until you pass out in a stranger's bathtub. Her catchy tune goes: “Before I leave, brush my teeth with a bottle of Jack.”

Some, like social commentator Nancy Giles, find the trend alarming. “There seems to be this strange ... hazing ritual or a badge of honor, how drunk can you get, how bad can you behave? How close to the edge can you go? I don't get it.”

Giles says it's as if girls are celebrating the worst of frat boy behavior as a way to female empowerment. Some young women agree.

“Women are becoming more comfortable with themselves and their sexuality,” says Lauren Casiva, 24, in Washington, DC. “They realize that it’s okay to behave as men behave.”

Bad girls a dangerous trend? Video

When it comes to binge drinking, experts say, sadly, women are up to the challenge. According to Southern Illinois University, in 1996, 33 percent of women admitted to binge drinking or having five drinks in one sitting – in the prior two weeks.

In 2008, that percentage shot up to nearly 41 percent. It’s a disturbing trend to feminist editor Jaclyn Friedman, whose book “Yes Means Yes,” explores the problem of date rape. She says women having fun and making stupid mistakes is one thing, but adopting destructive, raunchy behavior is, well – scary.

“When it comes to sexual assault, most rapists use alcohol to facilitate sexual assault.” Friedman says the real problem is a lack of reality-based role models. In our popular culture, women are either depicted as angelic, as in Taylor Swift – or Snooki, in “Jersey Shore.” There’s no one left in the middle.

What do you think? Send us your comments below.


Filed under: Gut Check
soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. Alaina

    To "annac":

    No one is saying "stay a virgin until marriage and don't smile unless a man is there and don't speak until spoken to yada yada"

    But there's a difference between slut and a feminist. BIG difference.

    I'm 20 years old and go to college. People assume I'm a little slut because I'm a blond. But I was raised with VALUES. Southern values (Southern twang and all). Have fun, but MY dignity is worth more to me than some "fun" night. My dignity and future is worth more to me than trying to be "cool" by binge drinking.

    May 2, 2010 at 10:02 pm |
  2. mamabear

    I'm glad someone is bringing this "issue" to light in mainstream media. Yes, this behavior has been happening at high schools and college campuses for years. We used the terms "slut" and "skank" and no-one respected these people (save the guy who was "getting his" at the moment). These weren't people that self-respecting people wanted to be associated with. Not only were they nasty but embarrassing too. Now I guess it's cool to be nasty. All I have to say is someday ladies, you're going to grow up and have to live with the memories you're creating today not to mention the STDs, unwanted pregnancies and fortunes you'll spend on therapy later on. Enjoy your sexuality but not at the expense of your health, dignity and self-respect. Oh, and by the way, the girl who dissed white girls for this behavior saying black girls don't behave this way? Seen a rap video lately?

    April 24, 2010 at 1:59 am |
  3. Cate

    I don't think it's necessarily lack of faith in schools but the absence of support. Women and girls all over are being painted as raunchy figures like pop artists and don't have a choice but to fill that mold. I think that it's simply pressure from hollywood culture because those are the handful of people we idolize and make our role models. If those women were to be strong and independant, the teens of today would be, too.

    April 24, 2010 at 1:08 am |
  4. annac

    I think the "dirty girl" culture is the new thing. If all you people who dont understand that girls are letting go off the old ways of doing things you know the "prim and proper" bs then leave us alone to do our own thing. why can't girls go out and get as drunk as they want? Why can't we be promiscuious. I am a product of the dirty girl culture and proud to say it. So to all you stuffed shirts trying to stop us from living, BACK OFF.

    April 23, 2010 at 4:35 pm |
  5. RS

    Forget the religion argument. I have personal experience with a daughter in a private Franciscan religious school and many of the girls there are just as nasty. Drinking, easy sex, drinking cough syrup to get high.

    April 23, 2010 at 3:09 pm |
  6. curt last

    This is what happens when feminists don't bother to educate the younger women: Many think that empowerment means acting as ignorant as the dumbest young men out there. So to drink, sex, and say whatever one wants, no matter how innappropriate it may be, is the new (actually, its been this way for about 10 years, you guys are just now finally diagnosing it) female display of empowerment. Congratulations, ladies, you've come a long way since bra burning.

    April 23, 2010 at 2:30 pm |
  7. Liz

    First, religion has no real importance here. Religion doesn't dictate the way someone acts or behaves. Its like saying rain is at fault for the horrible mannerisms and behaviors of these particular girls. As far as this topic goes its the girls fault for acting this way not anyone elses. They make thier own choices and if they allow the influence of the media to take that much control over them then they must be weak minded.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
  8. louise

    This behavior did not start now. There has always been a percentage of women who are raised trashy fighting over men, drinking well past the point of control, and sleeping around big time. "Women's Lib" has had it's effect on the percentage over the years. I think we are having a spike now. There is one major difference for this generation of young ladies.
    Gone is the myth of the man on a white horse carrying you off to your castle. Women are expected to keep a roof over their head and fend for themselves. Male attitudes have really changed. They play us against each other. Women have to be tough not to be tougher than guys, but to tough it out against the real competition, other women. Women will never be taken seriously in the work place as long as there are those who use sex to get ahead. I would appreciate if we would start to address the changes in male attitudes and how it is affecting the social position of younger women.

    April 23, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
  9. MissEsq

    I am 30, an attorney, and female. I found this segment very disappointing. It is one thing to highlight the antics of youth culture as portrayed and encouraged by the cult of reality television, but to suggest that women or "girls" have some separate and distinct duty to behave a certain way is irresponsible. Pop culture is the culprit, today's youth and young adults are the victims, both female and male. The behavior documented in this piece is a reflection on today's society, not today's women.

    April 23, 2010 at 11:18 am |
  10. RobNY

    I am a 28 yr old male, as I watch these so called Bad Girls/dirty girls on TV, it is funnyad entertaining to watch, because you know it is all just setup for the show, t in the real world its a turn off. If they think it's what guys want they are wrong. I am more attracted to the woman that know how to respect herself and the others around her. To dress in almost nothing outfits is very eye catching, but when a woman is dressing that way and acting like a 'dirty girl' at the same time it is such a turnoff. It seems as if they have no care as what may come of dressing/acting that way, what kind of impressions they portray to the others around them or even in the future like employers, colleagues or children that may see videos or pictures of them.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:31 am |
  11. Laura

    None of this is new at all. I was brought up in a nice christian school (like Lloyd described, but I learned to spell once I left) and once I escaped the repression I was a gril gone wild. Christianity isn't the answer-it was the problem, at least for me. Organized religion with weak repressive societies spawn stuff like this in one form or another at times. Other times, it's just the disease of alcoholism gone wild. Nothing wrong with anyone having fun if all participants are willing, not breaking promises to eachother or their kids and it's not in the middle of Main Street. Don't get me wrong, though-I love a good pride parade! TO SUM UP, THE WORLD ISN'T GOING TO HELL-IT'S JUST IN THE SAME PLACE WITH BETTER PUBLICITY.

    April 23, 2010 at 10:00 am |
  12. Dee

    No offense CNN, but I believe that the media has influenced our society to indulge in compulsive, entitled, and selfish behaviors. This "sexy/trashy" image of woman has become much more glamorized in advertising, on the web, and in movies over the last decade. Of course....I understand – "Freedom of Speech". And yes girls....I know, I know....you're stripping so you can put yourself through Law School -– got it! BUT......... when I have to chose the boring treadmill for my work out becuase the only 6pm class available at my gym that night is a "pole dance" class...... then there's a problem – and yes – it's official – we ARE glamorizing stripping now. I can't help but feel our society is becoming riddled with deviant behavior because we've been suppressed for far too long and are under the illusion that good behaviour is born out of being religious and "saved". Saying the lords prayer in a classroom will not keep young girls from acting like tramps. But, I think that curtailing the galmorization of sexual images and acts in order to sell a box of Rice-A-Roni will. Thank you.

    April 23, 2010 at 9:29 am |
  13. Marilyn Covelli

    I (American) was visiting Florence, Italy 2009.. My husband and I happened to be seated across the aisle from (four American university women studying abroad) in a local ristorante. They were inebriated well beyond the point of good judgement and in loud voices bragginging about the guys they had--, making a dirty spectacle of themselves. Thier loud swaggering was totally audible to us and many others. I found it so embarrasing at this time to be a woman and to be American. This was proof to me that these American girls are carrying this ridiculous trend abroad and reflecting so poorly on our nation . I could only think of their parents who are footing the bill for their stint overseas and the damage they do to our image abroad. Not to mention the obvious lack of respect for themselves. Grow up you spoiled brats and gain some self respect. The future mothers of America? It's scary!!

    April 23, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  14. Dave Beaman

    We are headed the way of the Roman Empire. Their society broke down as the Empire drew to an end. Drunkeness and debauchery increased. The country went bankrupt and the barbarians rushed in. Our military is still strong, but with 75% of our young people unqualified to serve, how long will that last? And then there is all the money we owe to China. They will end up owning us. We better get used to Chinese decor, fashion and food.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  15. maze1gerald

    Guys may play around with dirty girls but marry clean girls,dirty girls finish last.as for challenging men there are 20 women for every man,so were is the challenge.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:47 am |
  16. Byron

    I do think we need to be very aware. This is the same culture that young women end up it situation like the Tiger Woods problem. It is understood that he was wrong. But the women involved are not innocent thenselves. Young women are allowing themselves to get involved in negative behaviors and think that this is okay. Look at at adult beverage producers, In the past 10 years they have created drinks that are more attractive to women. In the end, anyone female or male that are rude and out of control is unattractive.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:45 am |
  17. Brandon

    This has been the problem for a few years. When I met a girl from Germany, I made the switch. I was charmed and intrigued by the excellent manners and politeness that I did not know existed in my generation. It was refreshing to meet a 21-year old female who spoke like a lady and carried herself the same way. This story is exactly right that girls are trying to do outdo guys in drinking and in other areas. I am tired of girls behaving like guys. If these girls who behave this way are still single, I would advise them to remember that if they are looking for a serious relationship, have a little class. Save the wild side for the alone time, but in public, be a lady. I swear the guys will chase you or what they think they can't have.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:44 am |
  18. sherika

    Don't compare white girls to black girls or any other race. Black girls don't beng drink and do all that other stupid crap. We don't do what we see on TV. Redo your poll because all women are not alike! There is a difference in how white girls party and how black girls party.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:40 am |
    • RobNY

      I don't think it's a black/white thing on how women act. I think it's more ones personality and who they associate with.

      April 23, 2010 at 10:43 am |
  19. Michael

    Got news for you, it's real. My wife became a full blown swinger then left our marriage and moved in with a guy at her job. She contacted a single guy on a an adult swinger web site-he was our neighbor by the way! She filed for divorce and was next seen on Facebook drunk and partying the night away. She is successful SVP with a large bank but could care less for her family of the vows she took. Think I could make all this up? Reality is far more strange than fiction. Yep, she is woman here her roar and it so sad. Her antics have crushed the family financially and emotionally. I see more and more of this now that it has happened to me.

    April 23, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  20. Angela

    At 56, and with the combined work of the feminist movement, what the hell happened here? Seems to me this is is all about the way women my age – raised their daughters. Well, the therapists will make a lot of money in a few years..... a shame and mighty disappointing to this feminist!

    April 23, 2010 at 8:35 am |
  21. Gustroh

    Slutty girls that are easy to take advantage of are soooo cute!

    April 23, 2010 at 8:32 am |
  22. Molly

    What's wrong with Taylor Swift, for crying out loud? She's talented, hardworking, successful and seems to have a good head on her shoulders. But she's too angelic? Part of the problem is that we tend to mock wholesomeness. I think we could use a lot more "angelic."

    April 23, 2010 at 8:26 am |
    • RobNY

      I completely agree!
      Morals and respect, it seems like the youth of today just doesn't have them and that only falls onto the parents to teach the youth that.

      April 23, 2010 at 10:52 am |
  23. jmz

    unfortunatly our culture has confused sexual awareness and sexual strength with being just stupid skanks. there is nothing wrong with sex or its 'frequent use' however there is a difference btw knowing you dont want attachments vs just jumpin everything for self worth

    April 23, 2010 at 8:15 am |
  24. Paul

    As a recent college graduate Ive seen first hand this urge for girls in our culture to act out. But most of the girls who i know have grown out of it by the time they hit graduation. I personally think most of the time its just people, and i say people cause guys act the same way, exercising the freedom that come with the college experience. But in relation to girls, having conversations with some of my female friends they definitely regret the drunken nights that end in the walk of shame in the morning. Also from my experience the girls that are really acting out are ones not in relationships, Ive found that most girls in solid relationships don't act out like you've portraying. And even in terms of the part of our culture that i exist in those girls are looked down upon. Cause the heavy drinking to our group was associated with promiscuity. A good wake up call for the guys and girls making the walk of shame early in the morning was getting mocked for it by people from cars.

    April 23, 2010 at 7:49 am |
  25. Bill

    I have six daughters and this phenom is VERY real! It is scary and sad at the least! My girls feel they have to compete with raunchy, loud, mean and vulgar to survive in their social circles. To be "good" is weak. They "think" drunk is funny, provacative is daring and funny.
    Sadly and ironically, If their mother was like that I NEVER would have married her! WHAT TO DO?

    April 23, 2010 at 7:47 am |
  26. Becky

    I'm with Kiran: my children will only be watching Nick Jr. until they are 15.

    I have two young daughters, and it scares me as to what they will be seeing is acceptable behavior by the women in the entertainment business. You say there is no one left in the middle; I AM the middle. I have to be one to show my daughters the way they should behave. I have to teach them to respect themselves and their bodies and what they do to their bodies. As their mother, that's part of my job. Sometimes, I think that parents have forgotten who their child's first, and most influential, role model will be.

    April 23, 2010 at 7:39 am |
  27. Loyd

    This is what happens when you take the guidance of christianty out of public school and replace it with Holleywoods version of sociaty. After all, all the major relegions believe in God (christian,jewish,muslem etc.)

    April 23, 2010 at 7:39 am |