A report by the American Psychological Association: "Report of the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls" focuses on the media culture and its impact on young American women over a long period of time.
As a part of everyday life, for many the connection has not been made between the messages conveyed through media, and the self perception of a young person, in this case young girls. The report found:the APA Task Force on the of Girls
- Youth-oriented programs are disproportionately male in focus
- Have a tendency to objectify women.
- Female characters are provocatively dressed and behaviors are coded with leering, ogling, staring, and catcalling at the bodies of female characters.
- Of the 81 programs analyzed, 84% contained one of the following behaviors in order of the most to the least common:
1- Sexist comments (e.g., broad, bimbo, dumb ass chick, toots, fox, babe, blondie).
2- Verbal sexual objectification of women’s bodies.
3- Body language – involving sexual harassment i.e. jokes which characterized women as sexual objects.
- 44%–81% of music videos analyzed contain sexual imagery.
- Women dress more provocatively than men
- Are more likely to serve as decorative objects
- Are least likely to play an instrument.
- Women are displayed for sexual readiness.
- Use sexual readiness to cross the threshold from teenager to adulthood, which conveys the message that sexual readiness is a sign of maturity
- Researchers coded the content of 164 songs from 16 artists popular with teens. Overall, 15% of songs contained sexually degrading lyrics.
- "This gross under representation of women and girls in films with family-friendly content reflects a missed opportunity to present a broad spectrum of girls and women in roles that are non-sexualized".
Cartoons and Animation
- Are not free from the sexual objectification of young girls and women.
- Female characters increasingly wear sexy costumes that don’t match the characters’, fewer clothes.
- Girls and young women are repeatedly encouraged and given advices on how to look and dress for men, a phenomenon labeled “costuming for seduction."
- Games made for specialized systems and those made for personal computers contain highly sexualized content.
- "The wide popularity of sites like MySpace.com as well as blog centers has encouraged youth, including girls, to describe themselves on the Internet. Some girls have posed in provocative clothing and posted notices of their sexual availability".
Report of the APA Task Force on the f Girls
- A study found that 70% of teens 15–17 years of age had accidentally encountered pornography on the Internet, with 23% saying this happened somewhat or very often.
- Women tend to be shown in a state of undress.
- "When women are featured as “decorations” in ads (e.g., shown standing seductively next to a car to enhance the image of the car), their major purpose is to be looked at. They are treated as appendages to the product rather than as active consumers or users of the product".
- Female models were placed in sexually exploitive positions "for others’ viewing pleasure".
- Although advertisers are typically careful not to sexualize young girls directly, several advertising techniques do so indirectly:
- "Some girl's/women's magazines includes sexual portrayals of adult women as young girls in advertising (schoolgirl clothing and licking lollipops or popsicles or wearing scaled-up versions of children’s clothing styles like baby doll dresses and tops, and knee socks, all marketed as adult women’s wear"
Certain products can shape individual and societal expectations.
- Dolls that portray characters whose only interest are fashion, music, boys, and image.
- Clothing– An increase in production of “sexy” clothing in child and teen sizes.
- Cosmetics - The cosmetics industry targets younger and younger girls. "French perfumeries have introduced perfumes to the market specifically for little girls (e.g. “smellies”). Villeneuve and de Grandi", when perfumery for adults is marketed as a means for sexual attraction.
So parents, when that T.V/video recorder/cassette recorder/DVD player is switched on, be mindful that your daughter is not just another pawn in the hands of marketing and the media.
All too often parents say: "They are young", "It will do no harm, "She'll grow out of it!" But when her mind and imagination is receiving subliminal messages on a daily basis, who can make the distinction between, her mind and the mind of the media!
ReferencesA.P.A. Report of the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.
Related Links:Sex and Relationship Education
Not Beautiful Enough
Resisting Screen Culture