Smart Women on "Stupid Girls"
"I want us to start paying attention to what is happening to women in this country and the role models we are projecting throughout the world."
Former music video dancer Karrine Steffans used to be a part of a multibillion dollar industry that some experts fear is ruining an entire generation. Her confession
When Karrine finally decided to get out of the business, she found herself homeless and friendless. "My so-called famous wealthy friends that just loved me so much wouldn't lend a hand, because I was no longer the 'good time girl,'" she says. Despite her pain and hardship, Karrine, the mother of an 8-year-old son, says her biggest regret is sending the wrong message to young girls and boys. Being a glamorous music video star, she says, is not what it seems.
Despite her doubts and fears, Karrine went on to dance in other videos and continued to endure harassment. She says music video sets are hotbeds of sexual exploitation and abuse, and dancers are often doused in alcohol, sprayed in the face with champagne, verbally degraded and treated as objects.
"When you step onto that set, you sign over your rights as a human. You sign over your body to them. They grease you up, strip you down, sling you against a car and you are rented."
"I am no longer in the business of making other people look good at my expense. And that's what I wish for the women who are in the industry."
Karrine says she plans to tell her son the truth about her experiences so that he can learn the importance of treating all women with respect.
Pink says striving to imitate the hottest celebrity squanders a young woman's own individuality and potential. "My definition of 'stupid' is wasting your opportunity to be yourself," Pink says, "because I think everybody has a uniqueness and everybody's good at something.'"
"I didn't write the song to win a popularity contest. I did it to spark a discussion. ... My point is, sexy and smart are not oil and water—and that you don't have to dumb yourself down to be cute.
"I don't think any of these [young Hollywood starlets] are actually stupid. I think it's an act. It makes you less challenging as a female to act really cute."
If hair extensions, designer fashions and makeup aren't enough to imitate their idols, they say they're willing to go to any extreme. Whitney says she's making plans to have a breast augmentation. "Celebrities get plastic surgery all the time, and I don't see anything wrong with it," she says.
The girls even call each other the same slang names used by young celebrities on TV. "Sometimes we say, 'Hey, bitch, what's up?' or, 'Stop being a whore,'" Amber says. "It's not in a literal sense, it's more joking around."
Do the four friends think they are "stupid girls"? "We are really smart girls but sometimes we do dumb ourselves down around guys...not on purpose, just...it happens," Whitney says.
Debbie says she would say whatever was necessary to convince girls to participate in these videos. "I didn't feel like what I was doing was really bad. ... I thought, you know what, it's their choice. If they're going to get drunk, I thought that's their prerogative."
Even though the girls themselves don't get paid to appear on tape, Debbie says most of the girls she talked to seemed excited to participate. "I'm sure that some of them regretted it," Debbie says. "The majority of the girls though, surprisingly enough, were pretty happy about what they did. Even girls I talked about it with afterward [said] it was their 15 seconds of fame."
Ariel says the rise of the "female chauvinist" is partly generational. "Whether your mother is a right wing evangelical Christian or an old school feminist, if you're flashing on spring break, you're probably going to tick her off," says Ariel.
Teenage rebellion aside, Ariel says there's a much bigger picture. "This is a culture that is obsessed with consumerism," she says. "We think we can buy anything. We can reduce sexuality to something that can be bought and sold like polyester underpants and implants."
Ariel says young women are specifically imitating women in the sex industry, not just celebrities. "Those are women whose job it is to imitate real female sexual pleasure and power, so when we're imitating an imitation, we're getting pretty far removed from authentic experience."
With their two-dimensional portrayals of female characters, Naomi says the books send negative messages to young girls. "These books basically tell our daughters that their value comes from how high they are in the pecking order in their high school, whether they can afford all of the fabulous designer goods, and provide a hot sexual experience for the boys in their lives," Naomi says.
Dr. Robin says these books are dangerous in many ways. "[They] are defining for girls who they are, making them think they're choosing it, and then profiting off of the demise of a whole generation of girls and women," she says.
Pink says that if she had compromised herself as a young girl by acting "stupid," she wouldn't be where she is today—a message she hopes to convey to other girls. "If you are going to be the future rock stars [or] whatever you want to be—then you're wasting your time trying to be somebody else because you'll never get to you."