Middle-class Canadian girls are giving oral sex after school to pay for sweaters and handbags. Worlds away from the poverty, neglect and drug abuse that are the hallmarks of prostitution, teenagers who appear bright and well- adjusted are prostituting themselves without batting an eyelash.
According to independent filmmaker Sharlene Azam's documentary and book, Oral Sex is the New Goodnight Kiss, the normalization of oral sex as an acceptable teenage activity has led vulnerable girls to use it as a way of becoming socially accepted. For some in Azam's film, this ultimately leads to payment for sex because, after all, if they are doing it anyway, why not get paid for it?
Article Continued Below Azam, 38, a former columnist for the Toronto Star, interviewed Canadian girls and their parents who had been discovered by school officials to be involved in sexual activity with groups of boys, as well as girls charged by police.
This includes a prostitution ring at an Edmonton high school. Parents, she says, were not paying close enough attention to their daughters. Azam is married, with a 3-year-old daughter, and splits her time between Los Angeles and Vancouver. What sparked this documentary and book? I was at a high school in Burnaby, B. The Flex kids have been out of school for various problems.
In that class, I met a lovely blond girl with perfect makeup and a Louis Vuitton bag who seemed completely out of place. I asked the teacher about her and was told that she had been recruited by a girl at school and trafficked to a small town where she was kept in a motel. That was the beginning of my research into teenage recruiters and the middle-class girls they target. This was a new kind of predator. You were able to get parental permission to film the girls who were under age.
Getting the releases was not difficult because the parents wanted to talk about this. There is no forum for them. There is no counselling. There is no social group for a mother whose teenage daughter is having sex with five men a night. Article Continued Below The girls were okay talking about giving oral sex to a number of boys — they didn't stumble with the words or appear shy or ashamed. The reason they speak about it unflinchingly is because it has become as benign and as acceptable as kissing.
This is what our culture has become. Think back to the '80s when girls would blush when talking about their first kiss. We are way past that point with blowjobs. The real question is, "What's next? A lot has been written about rainbow oral sex parties. What do the girls get out of it sexually? I think Heather, 16, explains it best. I liked hearing them make noises because it made me feel powerful to be able to affect someone in that way.
I didn't know I had so much power. Has feminism failed young girls? We failed our girls. What's happened to our girls? We have let Girls Gone Wild and the media culture define them.
What is the boys' role in all of this? Did any of them have to deal with the consequences? It is important to remember that the responsibility lies with parents, teachers and adults.
Your question suggests that another adolescent should take responsibility for what is happening. Boys are downloading pornography on their cellphones. This is how they are learning how they are supposed to treat girls.
What are the lessons learned? It is not as much a lesson as it is a warning. Who is going to save our girls? You asked me about feminism.
I interviewed Gloria Steinem, who was a voice for women. Who is the voice for our girls? Is it the media? Is it boys' opinions of them? Is it the negative images of themselves that they've created from advertising imagery? The book is available through thenewgoodnightkiss. The film aired on European television last year to an estimated 1 million-plus viewers.