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Column: Not Everybody's A Slut, Jordin Sparks

This story was written by Carlye Wisel, Daily Illini

What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pop star?

Apparently, nothing -- not even lipstick.

During Sunday night's MTV Video Music Awards, disheveled host Russell Brand poked fun at the Jonas Brothers, the boy band witha pastor father, for wearing promise rings representing their vow not to have sex before marriage. Offended by Brands' jokes, singer Jordin Sparks sassily commented, "It's not bad to wear a promise ring 'cuz not everybody, guy or a girl, wants to be a slut, OK?"

In a way, it's true -- I don't want to seem like a penis-loving tramp, and I'm sure I could gather a few pals who don't want to be considered whorish either. But here's what both American Idols and the American government don't seem to understand: Just because you're having sex outside of the outdated social confines of marriage doesn't mean you're a slut.

It seems that teens are pegged as either celibate or skanky with no middle ground, and perhaps Sparks thinks negatively about being sexually active because her peers' sexual habits are either ignored or exploited.

The purity of America's youth, especially among teen musicians, is a 12-trick pony that's shockingly still kicking. Britney Spears had a wholesome public image that started with an ironic dirty catholic school uniform and ended with a curly-haired boy bander stealing her virginity.

Disney sweetheart Vanessa Hudgens fell victim of naked teenage photos that were smeared across the Internet and nighttime news.

Jamie Lynn Spears' innocent child-like image was shattered when her word of a bun in the oven at the age of 16 was so shocking that Nickelodeon considered running a special discussing teenage pregnancy to their 2-to-11-year-old target audience.

Clean-cut brotherly band Hanson --which the Jonas Brothersare a decade younger carbon-copy of --are all married with children, though Taylor Hanson got hitched in 2002 at a small, private ceremony amid rumors that his girlfriend was already three months pregnant.

The public revels in these stars' false celibatic nature, then pounces on and popularizes their sexual mishaps. Sure, leaked naked pictures and teenage pregnancies aren't much to be proud of, but teens are always considered either prude or sexually inappropriate, even when one star is caught in between the terms.

Bringing it full circle is 15-year-old Miley Cyrus, who has her own Google Images portfolio of inappropriately suggestive near-naked self-shot pictures and dated one of the Jonas Brothers (Nick) for two years, making it a fair assumption that he was a recipient of the photos. But alas, the nation is only outraged when a portrait of Cyrus' upper body, shot by one of the best photographers in the world that shows less skin than you'd see on a trip to the beach, is run in a high-brow, artistically leaning magazine.

Her come-hither, half-clothed pictures were in one day and out the next. Odds are they didn't show enough skin, making it possible for her to stay virginized in the public eye. But the pale-faced, empty-eyed stare from the Vanity Fair-published photo is burned into the public's brains from the media circus surrounding it. Cyrus herself went from saying the photos were "pretty, really natural and really artsy" to issuing a reputation-saving apology addressing the outrage, stating how she was embarrassed from the "silly, inappropriate shots."

The fact of the matter is that Americans, both in pop culture and daily life, are comfortable with lying to themselves concerning a celibate-or-slut mentality. Teenage purity may be a farce, but potential leaders, such as Sarah Palin, refuse to accept its passing. As a vice presidential nominee who supports abstinence-only ducation like many delusional members of the Republican Party, her belief system mirrors that of Sparks' in the sense that she too only sees two categories: the pure, consisting of heterosexual couples who follow a love-marriage-baby life pattern, and everyone else,who areirresponsible, Christ-hating, orgasm-loving sex fiends.

All right, so that's an exaggeration, but really, what's the difference? By providing sex education that teaches youths when to have sex instead of how to do it safely, teens are shoved into two polarizing groups inside the classroom: those who have sex (and shouldn't), and those who don't (and shouldn't).

For Palin, teenage pregnancy now literally hits home with the development that her 17-year-old daughter Bristol is pregnant and bum-rushing the altar to make up for her miseducation, causing the Alaskan Governor to feel the exact repercussions for the classroom action she supports.

There's a baseless expectation for every teenager to have chastity, but becoming sexually active before marriage shouldn't cause one to be labeled "slutty," as Sparks put so eloquently.

If teens can act mature, responsible and safe, there deserves to be a middle ground between "wedding" and "whore."