Ethnographic Notes B – Sexuality, Generation, Class, and Ethnicity in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area (feel free add or edit.)


In the documentary “The Lost Children of Rockdale County” the teenage girls are represented in the following way. They are classified as white upper middle class kids between the ages of 12 and 16. They are described as indistinguishable from other kids in Conyers. They are also described as having nice cars and new homes. The media says they gathered on the strip where the businesses were and acted out by shoplifting, blaring music and defying the under 16 curfew. Most of the girls being interviewed are dressed conservatively with long sleeves and layers of clothes. The exception is Nicole who is shown at one point driving a car while in a t-shirt and shorts. Nicole is shown with a tattoo and both Nicole and Jennie are shown smoking which could be construed as a rebellious act. The narrator seems to mostly describe the girls behavior as acting out. It is explained that they were not just violating a cultural taboo of being sexually active but also a taboo of interracial sexual activity. Later in the video the producers return to Conyers and interview three friends who are not aware of the previous syphilis outbreak. These friends are shown exhibiting risky behavior, chain smoking, and acting very similar. We are told that the community is proud of these girls and 85% of them go on to higher education.

The state describes the girls as young girls between 13 and 16. They are described as middle class, white but also as a cross section of every profile imaginable. The State seems to express that it is unusual for this type of demographic to end up with a disease like syphilis. Most of the representatives of the state focus on how out of control the sexual behavior was. One of them comparing the behavior to that of a prostitute. The describe the sexual acts repeatedly possible in case people don’t know what is being referred to. They describe the girls as needing more parental guidance and as searching for what path they should follow. Beth Ross states that the kids had not been given limits. Peggy Cooper claims that the kids were imitating the playboy channel.

The community is shocked and in disbelief. One of the mothers describes taking her daughter in for testing and watching kids high-fiving and laughing about what has been going on. Many of the parents are described as looking for external sources to blame, like TV, video games, or other groups. Both Heather’s mom and Amy’s father  articulate that they are disappointed and wish they could have done more to prevent this. They state that this is due to a culture that their kids gave into so that they could fit in. Amy’s father talks about how he feels the family unit is breaking down and that amy knew what was expected of her yet still experimented with the sex, drugs, and alcohol to fit in. Heather’s mom explains that their kids have to make a decision at some point and decide for themselves about when to have sex, drink alcohol or do drugs.

The males all seem to think that this was just a social thing. DJ says he doesn’t think there was any pressure, but that maybe the pressure was unconsciously there. He says the girls just gave in. Kevin describes both boys and girls being passed around and shared as if they were objects instead of people. Miguel articulates the same thing. There is a sense that the boys seem to think that this was ok and normal. Even though the girls talk about the guys being mean to them and treating them with disrespect.

Most of the dialog was from the girls. Nicole talks about how things started with wearing big baggy clothes, wild t-shirts, dark lipstick, and heavy eyeliner. She says that initially this was an attempt to get stares and to not be normal. She describes how the girls would compete with each other for certain boys by using sex. She describes how girls would behave in certain ways concerning sex in attempts to be accepted as part of the group. She says sometimes you have to do things you don’t want to do to be cool. She talks about how she liked breaking rules. Any talks about similar situations. She explains that she lost a lot of her friends and was cut from the cheerleading team and became depressed. She describes doing these things because she didn’t want to be alone. She says afterward she would feel ashamed, really sad, and angry at herself. Promising herself that it would not happen again. When Frontline returns to Conyers they interview two different groups of three friends. The first are three Christian girls who describe how when they entered high school things changed and being cool became all about sex, and drugs. The talk about being harassed by their peers for not conforming to the perceived social norms. They talk about narrowing their group of friends to people who have similar beliefs to theirs and are now going to a private Christian school. The other three girls go to public school and portray themselves as promiscuous. The chain smoke, stay up to all ends of the night and say that it is typical for girls in the town to lose their virginity at the age of 13 or 14. They express regret at not staying chaste until marriage but seem to articulate that they are filling a role that is expected of them by society.

In Fighting Child Prostitution the the video stresses repeatedly that teenage girls need help, are victims, and they become prostitutes at a young age. These themes are repeated multiple times throughout the video interspersed with images of scantily clad women standing or walking on the street or posing in pictures posted online. There seems to be a fascination with what the market for a teenage girl prostitute will bear. There is one reference to a price list, later a woman is asked how much she charged. Even later when discussing prostitution online the images of scantily clad girls also includes actual prices for what one would pay. At one point one of the interviewees stated that the teenage girls do this for status and material things like cars or cell phones. There is only one point in the video where an aunt who was a prostitute states that the reason she did this was because of how she felt about herself. So viewers are left with the impression that teenage girls are victims, dress provocatively, and will do anything for money or material things like cell phones or cars.

The state in this video is represented in several forms. There are social workers who talk about how these girls need a safe place to stay but that there are not enough safe places for them. There is some discussion about how shelters may not be enough because the girls will run away from the shelters. So the state seems to feel the best option is to put them into detention for their own protection. The mayor talks about treating the girls like victims but emphasises prosecution of the johns and pimps as a way to end the cycle.

There are not a lot of men in this video. However, the first one we meet describes the girls as victims who need help. The other men shown are two pimps who talk about how dangerous prostitution is for the girls. They stress that anything can happen and seem to try to make idea attractive by describing the girls as brave. However, other interviewees talk about how the girls are degraded by men in some cases being branded. They mayor talks about how this behavior hurts the community as a whole. The community is described as not caring about the situation. There is discussion about a lot of a large adult entertainment industry in Atlanta. The implication being that the community is turning a blind eye to the prostitution issue due to influence from the adult entertainment industry. The girls portrayed in this video appear scandalized and sometimes disgusted with the teenage prostitution. They talk about how their friends seem to be very involved and then shake their heads and talk about how it is not a good thing.


Women are portrayed in the media completely differently then men.  For women the prettier you are, skinnier you are makes you better. When you look at a magazines the women are skinnier because the Photoshop these women.  So we try to be exactly like them.  We go on major diets or have eating disorders just to try to somehow look like them. Women are taught from a very early age from the media that is is what we are suppose to look like and men automatically think this is what we should want in our women.  Its all about the body and nothing about the mind.


Celebrity women are portrayed a lot differently.  They are known for men wanting them and for women to hate them.  The reason they do this is because that women always want what someone else has. So it is important for the media dealing with celebrities to make sure that the men love these women and that the women hate them.  They are always harder on celebrity women.  They have to wear the right clothes, be seen at the right places, and maintain a certain weight. . They use the sex sells for women.  The less clothes you have on the better.

Dove is trying to change this.  When they did their first ad for Real Women campaign.  Instead of showing skinny models they are showing real women.  Trying to change the aspect of women portrayed in the media.

Newsom, Jennifer Siebel, et al. Miss Representation. 90 min. version; customized educational footage. [Sausalito, Calif.] : [San Francisco, Calif.]: Ro*co Films Educational, 2011


In the documentary titled “Fighting Child Prostitution” is a testament to the epidemic of childhood prostitution in Atlanta Georgia. As mentioned in the film, this is not just a problem in Atlanta, it is a nationwide issue. I agree with the sentiment that a major problem is that it is an issue that receives little attention from the community, media and the surrounding area. People do not seem to feel empathetic towards child prostitutes because from a societal perspective, they are not victims. To be frank, this is an incredibly apathetic and ignorant point of view which needs to be changed. The successful women named Sharon who was interviewing teenagers in the film addressed the fact that teenagers selling heir bodies was commonplace. Her Aunt and her Aunt discuss the fact that these girls normally start out being sexually abused by family members or family friends and this is where the viscous cycle begins. As Sharon mentions, girls who are sexually abused don’t have a sense of ownership of their bodies.

It is hard to imagine what it would be like to grow up in an environment where childhood prostitution is commonplace behavior. It is even harder to imagine what it would be like to me molested as a child in this type of unhealthy environment.
Not only is there a lack of coverage in the media about this epidemic, there is a the issue of social media being used as a sexual exploitation tool. It is easy for young girls who are drawn into the idea of getting involved in prostitution to solicit themselves through these websites. Because pop culture glamourizes figures like “pimps” through music like rap, girls are even more likely to be drawn into he lifestyle not realizing what they are getting themselves into.

Since law enforcement have no where to send girls who are caught prostituting themselves, they often times charge them since incarcerating them is the only way to temporarily keep them off the streets. The system is not set p in a way that protects young girls from predators who are looking to “pimp” them out.

There needs to be policy changes so that there are harsher penalties to the pimps and men caught soliciting themselves to the young girls. More funds are needed to provide a safety net for the girls that are getting involve in prostitution.

The “The Lost Children of Rockdale ” was a documentary about a community of promiscuous adolescents who live in Atlanta. An outbreak of syphilis shook the community in he 90’s as a result of teenagers having multiple sex partners as well as behaving in “risky” sexual behavior. This was a community of upper middle class kids, may of whom had little parental supervision. Many of their parents worked 40-80 hrs. a week. Another issue was the fact that when the parents were home, there was not a lot of interaction. This left many of the teenagers without role models.


If children do not have role models at home, they are far more likely to seek them out among their peers which can be disastrous as seen in the documentary. The teenagers drink, drug, and have sex on a regular basis. The girls report that they do not enjoy the sex in the way that the males do but it becomes a behavioral pattern for a number of reasons. One of the young girls discusses that although she was treated disrespectfully by her male peers and sexual partners, she did not stop her interactions because she didn't want to be alone. This is evidence of what was lacking in many of the teenagers home life.

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