by on Nov.08, 2011

By Kate Durbin

I have already written about the teenage girl’s excessive body, her objecthood she wields as a weapon and a wrench and a period-stained rag.

I have written of her excessive hormones, emotions, fashion. Of her unfortunate yet unfortunately necessary place in the market.

The teenage girl is a consumer, valuable only as such. But she is inherently unstable; her identity ever in flux, the flickering roll of the tumblr scroll, the manic-heaving breasts of a cute bow-haired girl in a moving .gif. The market is always selling to this finicky, anorexic customer, who doesn’t even spend her own money. It’s mommy and daddy’s bling.

The teenage girls texts are excessive. She mumbles in girl code, she sends out an SOS to other girls she’s never met. She texts, she facebooks, she tumbles.

In class, she is mute. At home, she screams I HATE YOU at her parents.

The teenage girl’s greatest excess lies in her capacity to NOT GIVE A FUCK more than any one else can NOT GIVE A FUCK. She doesn’t give a fuck what her teachers think, her parents, etc. She does not give a fuck what you think.

The teenage girl does not do her homework.

Of course not all teenage girls are like this. But the ones that are, are all on the internet. They’ve all seen their fair share of sites like, they’re all on social media, and they’re all suffering in their own way because of it.

You don’t need a job to be online; you don’t need a stupid car.

Of course it’s not that she doesn’t really give a fuck. In fact, her suicidal feelings show she gives more a fuck than you and me. It’s that she doesn’t give a fuck about what we want her to give a fuck about.

She is obsessed with boys, clothes, money. But she does not earn any money or think about how to sell things. She wants money to appear magically for her, and it does, on the internet, in images robbed like free trade. She tumbles images of girls in underwear sitting on piles of cash, giggling.

She is obsessed with herself as thing for trade. She glues Hello Kitty’s to her acrylic nails. She dyes her hair every pastel shade. She would like your attention.

She is not for sale any more than one can own an image on google image search that everyone has already seen.

She tumbles, and tumbles, for hours on end. Her parents get angry for all her hours wasted on the net. And tumbling porn too—even showing naked pictures of herself!

She produces nothing new, overlaying dumb stock pictures of pink clouds with stupid, misspelled sayings like “Strawberry flavred underwear” or “YOUR VILE.”

She doesn’t exercise; she doesn’t shower; she doesn’t sleep; she doesn’t leave the house; she tumbles. She talks to other girls who are all in their bedrooms. She hates them; she wants to fuck them. She has never met any of them IRL.

The interface is a constant, ambivalent god—“NO TUMBLR YR NOT SORRY GET YR SHIT TOGETHER.”

She is not a good citizen, even in this post-space.

The things you tell her to keep hush are the very things she flaunts. When she cuts herself, she makes an image of her sliced legs with cupid printed stockings on, domestic violence chic. She posts the pic to tumblr. She may tell why in the comment section—a boy, a father, no reason at all—but the telling, too, is a performing text, a laughing jill-in-the-box. Who knows what happened IRL.

The photo will get retumbled 547 times. It will get 765 likes.

She does violence to domesticity; she does violence to language. She offends beyond offense, because she is not being ironic when titles her url: “pardonmywhoremoans” or “mermaidcunttt.”

These are not conceptual poems. She means it as much as she wants to mean it; she means it that she is disgusted with everything and everyone, especially you.

She is begging to be loved; she is grossed out by your attention. She’ll make a puking .gif with lime photoshopped sparkling vomit. YOU’RE VILE.

She has 407 notes on that one picture of her in pink frilly underpants.

The more offensive an image; the more complexly disturbing—the Louis Vuitton machine gun—the more she loves it. The teenage girl’s aesthetic tastes range more risky, more evolved than 95 percent of “artists,” who in comparison seem like cowards and conservatives, or at best, out of the net.

Do you tumble?

I said the teenage girl was not ironic. That does not mean she is not aware of the shock value of naming her tumblr “hardcore muslim” or “hitler’s fan club.”

It means she’s on to you.

The teenage girl’s identity is facilitated through the tumblr-bot. In this way, too, she exists excessively, morethan the market of adult capitalist-driven discourse. Her parents are always screaming at her to get out of tumblr, this porn-satured, weird, ambivalent place of bad girls without jobs all bitching to each other and stealing pictures.

Her highest crime, though, lies in the closed circle of her obsessions. Like I said, what her parents think, what I think, what you think, none of this matters. Feminist groups have long dreamed of some idyllic world, rid of men. This world exists, viscous, vain, glorious!, in equal turn.

It is the world of tumblr.

In Sophia Coppola’s film the Virgin Suicides, behind the frilly lace bedroom curtain of the Lisbon sisters is a world we can never enter, because we are not them.

Sad voyeurs, we exist but to misread.

The loathing, passion, leaking out her texts to other girls may well possess the label FOR GIRLS ONLY. For this is the teenage girl’s most subversive social act, whether she is aware of it or not: that she loves girls, that she values their opinions so highly she lets them wound and fuel her very identity.

Of course by girls I don’t mean “born a woman.” This is the internet. I mean “howtobeafuckinglady.”

The teenage girl loves teenage girls in a culture that tells her girls are objects to be looked at not read.

And so the teenage girl takes her objecthood and tumbles it, repeats it over and over, saturates the net with it, proud bloody angry unicorn, whose use value is naught.


[Kate Durbin presented this piece at the &Now Conference in San Diego with nosebleed. We have previously posted the pieces by Lucas de Lima, Feng Sun Chen, Joyelle McSweeney and Monica Mody.]

Bio: Kate Durbin is a Los Angeles-based writer and performance artist. She is author of The Ravenous Audience (Akashic), E! Entertaiment (Blanc/Insert Press), The Fashion Issue (Zg Press), and, with Amaranth Borsuk, ABRA (Zg Press). She is founding editor of the online journal Gaga Stigmata, which will be published as a book from Zg Press in 2012. Find her on the web at, or check out her tumblr WOMEN AS OBJECTS at

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