The Situationist

Growing Up in a Sexualizing Situation

Posted by The Situationist Staff on February 26, 2007

APA Image

The American Psychological Association (APA) published a fascinating and important report this month examining the proliferation of sexualizing and objectifying images of girls and young women in the media. The report summarizes evidence of how those images may have a variety of negative consequences for girls as well as for others in our culture.

Dr Eileen Zurbriggen, Chair of the APA Task Force, explains that there is now “ample evidence to conclude that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, and healthy sexual development.”Paris Hilton Selling Cheeseburgers

The report also included links to several helpful websites including the following:

 

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16 Responses to “Growing Up in a Sexualizing Situation”

  1. sum-marie said

    can you summarize the report, please?

  2. Doug S. said

    Very Short Summary: Media portrays women and girls as sex objects, and this is bad.

  3. Oskar Shapley said

    Here’s my favourite part:

    The authors reported that the content of these magazines encouraged young women to think of themselves as sexual objects whose lives were not complete unless sexually connected with a man.

    As M.Duffy and Gotcher (1996) concluded from their
    analysis of YM, the world of YM is a place where young women …must consume and beautify themselves to achieve an almost impossible physical beauty ideal. And,it is a place where sexuality is both a means and an objective,where the pursuit of males is almost the sole focus of life. In fact,the objective of attracting males is the only objective presented — it is an unquestioned “good.”

  4. Dio said

    Other day I wrote “Sexualizing the Society or Freedom of Expression ” on this subject. This report substaitiate my assertions. Personally speaking, this is bad thing happening in society.

  5. mathew said

    I note that there were no men on the task force, nor were any men invited to comment.

    If a task force made up entirely of men produced a report on (say) the effect of violent media on teenage boys, and took no comments from women, I suspect that that report’s credibility would be questioned. Will this report get the same reaction?

  6. “Media portrays women and girls as sex objects, and this is bad.”

    What else is new? I do, however, agree…

  7. plubius said

    Mmmhmmm.

  8. newhoosier said

    Is it not also negative to project men in the same light?

    If it’s just as wrong to showcase body images of unreasonable expectations in men as in women, why ignore the men?

  9. honestpoet said

    Actually, there have been studies about it having a negative impact on young men, as well. Eating disorders used to be almost entirely a female thing, but the incidence of young males with the problem is way on the rise.

    But it’s still much more prevalent with young women. I have a daughter in elementary school, and she tells me how her friends already pose for the boys on the playground, in positions that mimic the sexualized characters called “Bratz” which are everywhere, on lunchboxes and Valentines, and of course for sale at Wal-Mart. (They’re big-headed puffy-lipped short-skirt-clad Britney wannabes, in case you haven’t seen them.)

    It’s more than a little distressing. I’m doing my best to counteract it at home, but it’s not easy.

    There’s also the fact, btw, regarding the objectification of women, that it affects the boys, as well. If they’re taught to see girls as objects to be pursued and consumed (prey), then that turns them into predators (which can’t be all that much fun, really, either).

    It’s a sickness our society is suffering, largely at the hands of Madison Ave. Of course America laps it up. But that doesn’t mean it’s not poison. And certainly some folks are getting rich on it.

  10. Rachel said

    I am a current student of psychology, and the APA has strict, stringent guidelines for publishing articles. The research done is done by APA standards, using the Scientific Method, and is based on statistical analysis. The individuals who complete these studies are trained professionals, always with Ph.D’s or Psy.D’s. The studies also undergo rigorous international review boards that have to approve every aspect of a study before it is even filled out. People may not feel that this article should be given any attention, but many people refuse to accept this as a growing problem without some form of official evidence.

    I would say that anything that the APA writes is legitimate and supported by analyzed data. My peers and I have already noticed a trend, and as a young woman, I can easily see how the article’s findings would be supported. It is nothing new, but it is a disturbing trend that is escalating, and a topic that has to be understood more thoroughly in order to help young children and adults suffering from eating disorders and all other sorts of psychological ailments that can have dire effects not only on the mental health of an individual, but his or her life even, and on a larger scale, society. Children are very vulnerable to media and culture. As the mother who commented above, look at the Bratz dolls for just one example of many.

  11. The media portrays women as sex objects just as much as rap videos do. Oh yeah, so does the government. Aren’t they the ones that hand out condoms at public schools? That ought to tell you something. Our society views the body as sexual pleasure so why do we get upset when we see it portrayed on television?

  12. honestpoet said

    There’s a world of difference between teaching kids to have sex responsibly and teaching girls that ALL they’re good for is sex.

  13. [...] by The Situationist Staff on May 16th, 2007 In February we published a post about a recent report by the American Psychological Association (APA) examining the proliferation of [...]

  14. [...] We begin with Wray Herbert’s excellent article on Carol Dweck’s keynote address. Carol Dweck’s fascinating research has been the subject of previous Situationist posts (including “The Young and the Lucky,” and “The Perils of Being Smart (or Not So Much”). This post compliments those posts as well as the collection of previous Situationist posts on child development (including “Only Child Syndrome or Advantage?,” “Role-Playing Helps Adolescent Emotional Learning,” “Jock or Nerd?: Where Do You Sit at the Dinner Table?,” “Biology and Environment Affect Childhood Behavioral Development,” or “Growing up in a Sexualizing Situation.”). [...]

  15. anti-feminist said

    Just incredible that this gets carried around the world’s media and nowhere have I been able to find anything more detailed than – ‘study proves media sexualises young girls = bad’

    My own summary would be : ‘Middle-aged feminists degrade themselves again by wanting all media portrayals of young sexy women to be banned on the basis of cod science and primiive psychological jealousies’.

    Sooner or later feminists are going to try forcing all teenage girls to wear full burqas in public.

    I guess objective research into the harmful effects of de-sexualising young women through base motives of sexual jealousy on the part of middle-aged feminists is out of the question?

    Meanwhile, in my city of London, teenage black boys continue to murder each other at unprecedented rates because they learn from an early age that showing that you have the biggest and baddest c*** is what turns the girls on….

  16. Giulia said

    @anti-feminist: grow up and do some research first! I am doing my thesis on this matter, the psychological impact advertising has on young women, those ads which use skinny unreal models. And it literally destroys lives. Why? Because men consider that it’s hot to like those girls and be in trend. So before you start typing next time, read what this world does to young women and girls as young as 6, who start dieting!!!

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