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'Being over-sexualised as a teen has grave consequences': NXKXTA on grooming and the Lolita myth

‘Teen’ was the number one search term on PornHub for many consecutive years. The sexualisation of school girls and their uniforms that we’ve become desensitised to as a society has real life repercussions

NXKXTA in her new single ‘EPHEBOPHILE’ credit: NXKXTA

‘Teen’ was the number one search term on PornHub for many consecutive years. The sexualisation of school girls and their uniforms that we’ve become desensitised to as a society has real life repercussions. 

It connects to the ‘Madonna-whore-complex’, a term first coined by Sigmund Freud, describing a psychological complex that is said to develop in men who see women as either saintly Madonnas or debased prostitutes. 

Men with this behavioral complex desire a sexual partner who has been degraded (the whore) while they cannot desire the respected partner (the Madonna). Being branded as the angel or the temptress plays out in a teenage girl’s life daily, as they are navigating purity culture that’s contrasted by constant public slut shaming.

In movies they see teenage actresses cast as a love interest to adult men. In the media, teenage boys are being explicitly, obscenely and sexually discussed by grown adults. Few people are aware that it’s been scientifically proven that the teenage brain is very mouldable and it inevitably makes them a target. The thing is that now that I know that, I cannot un-see it. I notice it everywhere around me and even recall my own memories through a very different lense.

I remember one night we went to this bar with my fellow classmates and a handsome, but much older guy started chatting to me. He asked my age and upon finding out I had just turned 16 told me that I seemed ‘so mature for my age’ but still had this ‘beautiful Lolita energy’. It was the first but not the last time that a man referenced Novikov’s book to me, fetishising my youth. Fellow millennials will remember how common it was to start frequenting clubs underage, as ID checks were a lot less strict when we were teenagers and how back then a comment like that would have likely not rung any alarm bells for our teenage brains. 

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Growing up all I wanted was to be ‘perfect’. Or whatever I perceived society deemed as the ideal woman at any given time. My father liked to celebrate me in public, I was a trophy daughter. His perfect, pretty, ‘good girl’. In private, he bullied or ignored me most of the time. I now know that this type of upbringing serves as ideal conditioning to set you up to be taken advantage of later, not only in relationships but in the workplace as well.

NXKXTA in her new single ‘EPHEBOPHILE’ credit: NXKXTA

A big reason why the creative industries from music to fashion, to art and film are so susceptible to exploitation of teenagers is because those are the industries where it’s normalised and even encouraged to start very young. 

Creative professions expect you to comply with unusual work hours, there are few boundaries in place and your work life often automatically melts into your social and personal life. As an adolescent,  you idolize the people you are working for and with and feel dependent on their validation. So oftentimes you don’t question their behaviour nor the conditions you are working under until many years later. And by then it feels too late to change anything, so the cycle continues. The constant objectification you are subjected to is glorified and reframed as adoration. ‘Take it as a compliment’, they say, when their behaviour starts to casually cross over into grooming. 

With all that in mind I couldn’t help but feel compelled to write a song about it. However, as an artist, creating work based on a difficult topic can be a tricky balancing act. On one hand you want to be able to get the point across but on the other hand, I personally don’t feel focusing on the shock factor is necessarily always helpful to the audience. Yes, it may generate attention but it may simultaneously massively trigger survivors. So when shooting the video to my song ‘EPHEBOPHILE’ (definition: ‘adult who is attracted to adolescents’) I didn’t want to film actual teenagers and instead opted to create a fictional character I could embody. I wanted to channel a ‘deranged doll’ persona, somewhat nodding to famous fictional characters and villains like Michelle Pfeiffer’s ‘Catwoman’, ‘Harley Quinn’ in the DC Comics or Emma Stone’s ‘Cruella’. In fact it’s a common trope in fiction – a young female character who was wronged by men and became disillusioned, which in turn transformed her into the villain.

This in many ways also happens when survivors speak up – society tends to turn against them and vilify them. Few people consider how re-traumatising their harsh words can be to survivors and how every time new public allegations surface, such as the recent Russell Brand allegations, it feels like a wave of doom swallowing you whole, catapulting you back into that feeling of helplessness you know all too well.

I’d like to add that I don’t think solely focusing on finding someone to blame for the structures we are dealing with currently is productive. I wrote ‘EPHEBOPHILE’, to introduce people to the term. To bring attention to the fact that while pedophilia is socially completely unaccepted, ephebophilia tends to fly under the radar.

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I want to encourage people to start noticing these behaviours in their own lives. I believe the progress we need is future-forward thinking: tangible changes to close the loopholes in the system that we are by now very aware of. Questioning our own behaviour and adjusting it. And using whichever opportunity we have to better support the next generation as they navigate life and enter the industry. 

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