According to this earth shattering study, sexualisation in culture is harmful for young women. Released under the auspices of the American Psychological Association, the study claims that sexual images in film, advertisements, video games, and other media are harming girls. I really cannot imagine where they get this impression.
As my readers know, I am not a terribly prudish person, and it takes a fair amount to offend me, sexually. But even I have been disturbed by the recent trend of dressing young girls like streetwalkers. Not just underage girls, like 14-17 years old, although I find that a bit unnerving, but really, really young girls: the other day, I saw an eight year old dressed in clothing I wouldn’t be caught dead in…right along with her slutty mommy figure.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with being a slut, or with having open sexual practices. But I think this is something that could be more appropriately explored at an older age. I am uncomfortable with the sexualisation of young girls because to me, they’re just that: young girls. Yes, there was an era in human history when very young women were married to older men, raising families, and running households…but I don’t think that needs to be the case today. Most young humans are not at a stage of development where sexual activity is appropriate when they are eight, or nine, or ten…and it is especially inappropriate with someone who is much older.
I am rather prudish, I realize, about May/December romance. When I see a 17 year old and a 27 year old, I don’t think ah, love, I think exploitation! child abuse! danger! danger!. I think many others think along these lines as well, because as a culture, we have agreed that young women and men should be allowed to grow up and explore themselves, not be forced into a socially dictated behaviour, which is why it deeply saddens me to see young women and girls tarting themselves up to meet social expectations. Young girls, especially, are prey to these sorts of relationships because they have been taught by society that they are sex objects, not people with individual wishes, dreams, hopes, and fears.
And not just tarting themselves up with designer clothing…starving their bodies, denying their natural intelligence, and being frustrated by the wonderful and amazing people that they are. Not everyone can be a supermodel, it’s true: but not everyone should be. People are not sex objects, and young women should not feel like they are sex objects. As a media culture, we owe it to our children to raise them more neutrally, but as individuals we should also be taking steps to encourage the growth and development of the people around us, showing them through actions that they do not need to be sex dolls, rather than just parroting words that seem meaningless when surrounded with media that tells them otherwise. It’s fucked up that women use their sexuality to get attention, and that society encourages this, because it undermines our position as, you know, humans.
We cannot ban sexualised advertising, nor should we, because it sets a dangerous precedent…but we can tell people that they are appreciated for who they are. We can date people that we find attractive, whether or not our friends agree with us. We can seek out things that we find beautiful, and bring them back to show the rest of the group, expanding everyone’s horizons. We can reject social norms of beauty and sexbotdom, and perhaps some day I will see eight years exploring chemistry, not buying “slut” thongs.