Growing up in an unhappy environment can never be easy, and like Freud insisted, early childhood experiences can have a profound effect on the mind and behaviour of the growing individual. Marital conflicts among parents, child sex abuse, Alcoholism, Drug Abuse and other domestic and personal issues in a family can lead to devastating consequences, if the child’s innate immunity to mental illness and adjustment problems is weak. Even otherwise, growing up during the hormone surge is an extremely traumatic experience for most children.
Hormones, neglect and an unhappy childhood can lead to delinquency, promiscuous behaviour, mood disorders, dissociative disorders, and other psychoses and neuroses, including a pattern that might develop into a full blown adult personality disorder. Courtney Love, former lead singer of Hole seems to know these issues up close and front.
The track “Teenage Whore” from the album Pretty on the Inside might be an old song, hidden somewhere in the murky depths of the grunge era of the 90s. However, the song still is able to speak for the thousand of teenagers who either prostituted themselves, or engaged in risky sexual behaviour with multiple partners. Teenage sexuality has always been a topic that has been quite controversial.
However, to grow up in an unhappy atmosphere either physical or mental could surely lead to risky sexual behaviour. While teenage hustlers are way too common, and most do it for money, some may actually be seeking a ray of hope in the arms of strangers every dark hour. It may additionally help the teenager fund his or her expenses, especially if they have fallen into the traps of substance abuse.
While it is indeed unfortunate and tragic to succumb to adjustment problems, mental illness and even just environmental distress, one cannot negate the effects of these factors on a growing individual’s need for intimacy and developing sexuality. “Teenage Whore” may sound a little crude to people, but behind its boorish exterior hides a melancholic truth, which the society may refuse to acknowledge.
Like the mother who refuses her son’s/daughter’s distress and the reason why the child has taken to hustling, the society outcasts the youngster too, just like she throws the narrator out of the house. The cycle of neglect, state of being ignored, lack of affection, seeking warmth in a stranger and searching for acceptance has been the quintessential story of not just teenagers but of most adults as well. Perhaps this is exactly why the narrator tells the story using past tense.
The stanza which reads, “When I was a teenage whore My mother asked me she said, ‘Baby, what for? I give you plenty. What do you want more? Baby, why are you a teenage whore?’ I said, ‘I feel so all alone and I, I wish I could die. See the things you put me through and I, I wish I could die.’” seems to say it all. The alienation, the darkness of a neglected past and the uncertainty of a possibly traumatic future, and a hateful present leads the teenager to not just indulging in promiscuous and unsafe sex, but also towards self harm and mutilation. Courtney Love may have not realized it, but the song Teenage Whore continues to provide solace to thousands of teenagers who are caught in the web of alienation and hormones and also to adults whose lives did not change after their adolescence anyway and thus remains eternally relevant.