More and more, we are seeing tween and teen girls sexualized on prime-time T.V. With shows like Gossip Girls, Glee, and Degrassi, the message our daughters are getting is "that being sexualized isn't just acceptable, it should be sought after". (Fox News)
(Sexualization refers to a person, group, or thing to be seen as sexual in nature or a person to become aware of sexuality. It also refers to the making of an interpersonal relationship into a sexual relationship.)
The Parent Television Council (PTC) conducted a study examining teen female sexualization in prime-time T.V., entitled "Sexualized Teen Girls: Tinseltown's New Target". According to PTC president, Tim Winter, "this report is less about the shocking numbers that detail the sickness of early sexualization in our entertainment culture and more about the generation of young girls who are being told how society expects them to behave".
(Nielsen data was used to identify the top 25 prime-time shows for ages 12-17.)
- Underage female characters are shown participating in a higher percentage of sexual depictions compared to adults (47% and 29% respectively). (Underage depictions consisted of implied nudity and/or sexual gestures, such as suggestive dancing, exotic kissing, exotic touching, and/or implied intercourse.)
- Only 5% of the underage female characters communicated any dislike for being sexualized.
- 86% of all sexualized female characters depicted in the underage and young adult category were presented as only being of high school age.
- 75% of shows that included sexualization of underage female characters were shows that did not have an S-description to warn parents of the sexual content.
- Based upon a definition established by the APA of "healthy" vs. "unhealthy" sexuality, the study findings show that 93% of the sexual incidents among underage female characters occurred within a content that qualified to be categorized as "unhealthy".
- The data revealed that 98% of the sexual incidents involving underage female characters occurred with partners with whom they did not have any form of committed relationship.
- 55% of the sexualized incidents involving underage characters were either initiated by the female or presented as being mutually agreeable between the teen and her partner.
A study by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Children Now reported that young teens ranked entertainment media as their top source for information regarding sexuality and sexual health. While another report revealed children are spending more time than ever consuming entertainment media - more than 75 hours per week.
GIRLS EXPOSED TO SEXUALIZING MEDIA ARE MORE LIKELY TO:
- Be dissatisfied with their bodies.
- Experience depression
- Have lower self esteem
- Are influenced on their view of virginity and/or their first sexual experience
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
- Watch T.V. and movies with your tween/teen (including your sons). Ask questions and listen to what your teen says.
- Read their magazines and visit the websites they visit.
- If you don't like a T.V. show, say why. Talking about it is more effective than just saying, "no you can't watch that" or "because I said so".
- Be understanding. Teens often feel pressure to watch popular T.V. shows, listen to music their friends like, and conform to certain styles of dress. Help your daughter (and son) make smart choices and remind her often that who she is and what she can accomplish are more important than how she looks.
- You may feel uncomfortable discussing sexuality with your teen, but it is more important to have this discussion now more than ever.
- Talk to your teen about the emotional ties to having sex at an early age. Let her know that sex is not like it appears on TV. There is much more to it. Talk to her about the hurt and let down she may feel, especially if it's her first time, and if the boy acts like it was no big deal.
- Marketing and the media also influence adults. What you buy and watch will have an impact on what your teen does.
I came across this report on CNN earlier this week, and it is very disturbing. This little girl is only 10-years-old and CNN says this pose is the only one they could show on TV.I have two daughters and these reports are very disturbing. I believe when boys see these types of shows and magazine covers (and believe me they are watching and looking), they expect "real" girls to act this way (sexually), and it can cause young girls to jump into a sexual relationship before she's really ready to in order to live up to the girls on these shows.
But what can you do? I belong to a group One Million Moms.com and this group works to stop these kinds of programs by attacking the sponsors, because these shows can't survive without their sponsors. So I encourage every mother, who wants the filth out of the media, to join this group. Here are some of their accomplishments.
How does a parent persuade their tween/teen not to worry about being sexy when every magazine cover, movie, and T.V. show tells her otherwise? Share your thoughts here!