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Sexualization


Sexualization (or sexualisation) is to make something sexual in character or quality, or to become aware of sexuality, especially in relation to men and women. Sexualization is linked to sexual objectification. The term "sexualization" itself only emerged in Anglophone discourse in recent decades. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the term was infrequently drawn upon by English writers to refer the assignation of a gendered frame to a particular object, such as the gendering of nouns (e.g., de Quincey [1839]1909, 195). In contrast, the term "asexualization" saw greater use, as a synonym for sterilization in eugenics discourse from around the turn of the twentieth century. According to the American Psychological Association, sexualization occurs when "individuals are regarded as sex objects and evaluated in terms of their physical characteristics and sexiness." "In study after study, findings have indicated that women more often than men are portrayed in a sexual manner (e.g., dressed in revealing clothing, with bodily postures or facial expressions that imply sexual readiness) and are objectified (e.g., used as a decorative object, or as body parts rather than a whole person). In addition, a narrow (and unrealistic) standard of physical beauty is heavily emphasized. These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate." Women who embrace their sexual desires are considered to be sexy and attractive to men who want nothing more than to have a woman as a sex toy. In the eyes of men, women that practice this behavior serve the pure purpose of providing satisfaction and showcasing their human nature. According to the Media Education Foundation, the sexualization of girls in media, and the ways women are portrayed in the dominant culture, is detrimental to the development of young girls as they are developing their identities and understanding themselves as sexual beings.

Reports have found that sexualization of younger children is becoming increasingly more common in advertisements. Research has linked sexualization of young girls to negative consequences for girls and society as a whole, finding that the viewing of sexually objectifying material can contribute to body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression and depressive affect. Medical and social science researchers generally deployed "sexualization" to refer to a liminal zone between sexual abuse and normal family life, in which the child's relationship with their parents was characterized by an "excessive," improper sexuality, though without recognizable forms of abuse having occurred. American Psychological Association also argues that the sexualization of young girls contributes to sexist attitudes within society, and a societal tolerance of sexual violence.


Name of report Country Year Reference
Corporate paedophilia: sexualisation of children in Australia Australia 2006
Sexualised goods aimed at children: Report for the Scottish Parliament Equal Opportunities Committee. Scotland, UK 2009
Report of the American Psychological Association (APA) Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls USA 2010
Sexualisation of young people : review (Home Office) UK 2010
Letting children be children : report of an independent review of the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood ('The Bailey Review') UK 2011

Images of sexualised children are becoming increasingly common in advertising and marketing material. Children who appear aged 12 years and under are dressed, posed and made up in the same way as sexy adult models. Children that appear on magazines are seen older than they really are because of the sexualised clothes they are given to pose in. "Corporate paedophilia" is a metaphor used to describe advertising and marketing that sexualises children in these ways.
Reporter: Joanna Skrzydlewska, Member of the European Parliament
Reporter: Joanna Skrzydlewska, Member of the European Parliament
Reporter: Joanna Skrzydlewska, Member of the European Parliament
Reporter: Joanna Skrzydlewska, Member of the European Parliament
Reporter: Joanna Skrzydlewska, Member of the European Parliament
Also available as: Lorde, Audre (2010), "Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power", in Kirk, Gwyn; Okazawa-Rey, Margo, Women's lives: multicultural perspectives, New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 168–172, ISBN . 
Also available as: Lorde, Audre (2010), "Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power", in Kirk, Gwyn; Okazawa-Rey, Margo, Women's lives: multicultural perspectives, New York, New York: McGraw-Hill, pp. 168–172, ISBN . 
See also: Mills, Amanda (November 2011). "Book review: "Girls gone skank: the sexualization of girls in American culture" by Patrice Oppliger". Feminist Review. Palgrave Macmillan. 99 (1): e16–e17. doi:10.1057/fr.2011.45. 
See also: Mills, Amanda (November 2011). "Book review: "Girls gone skank: the sexualization of girls in American culture" by Patrice Oppliger". Feminist Review. Palgrave Macmillan. 99 (1): e16–e17. doi:10.1057/fr.2011.45. 
  • 1) the "wallpaper" of children's lives
  • 2) clothing, products and services for children
  • 3) children as consumers
  • 4) making parents' voices heard
  • a person's value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or sexual behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  • a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  • a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others' sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  • sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
  • Including girls in ads with sexualized women wearing matching clothing or posed seductively,
  • Dressing girls up to look like adult women. Such as child beauty pageants that encourage girls as young as toddlers to wear tight fitted clothing, high heels, and fake eyelashes.
  • Dressing women down to look like young girls. This is also known as the infantilization of women.
  • The employment of youthful celebrity adolescents in highly sexual ways to promote or endorse products.
  • Bratz Baby Dolls marketed at 6-year-old girls that feature sexualized clothing, like fishnet stockings, feather boas, and miniskirts
  • Highly sexualized and gendered Halloween costumes marketed at young girls, such as the "sexy firefighter", a costume that consists of a tight fitted mini dress and high heeled boots.
  • Girls aged 10 and 11 wearing thongs in primary school.
  • Clothing such T-shirts being marketed for young children in preschool and elementary school with printed slogans like "So Many Boys So Little Time"
  • Padded bras on bikinis aimed at seven-year-old girls. Some people regard training bras similarly. However, there is also evidence that with the mean age of puberty declining in Western cultures, functional brassieres are required by a higher percentage of preteen girls than before.
  • Attwood, Feona (2009). Mainstreaming sex the sexualization of Western culture. London: I.B. Tauris. ISBN . 
  • Buckingham, David; Bragg, Sara (2004). Young people, sex and the media: the facts of life. Houndmills England New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN . 
  • Carey, Tanith (2011). Where has my little girl gone? How to protect your daughter from growing up too soon. London: Lion. ISBN .  A guide for parents on girls' body image and other issues.
  • Charles, Claire (2014). Elite girls' schooling, social class and sexualised popular culture. New York, New York: Routledge. ISBN . 
  • Durham, Meenakshi G. (2008). The Lolita effect: the media sexualization of young girls and what we can do about it. Woodstock, NY: Overlook Press. ISBN .  Looks at media messges and suggests that it promotes early maturation and sexualisation of pre-adolescent girls.
  • Egan, R. Danielle (2013). Becoming sexual: a critical appraisal of the sexualization of girls. Cambridge Malden, MA: Polity Press. ISBN . 
  • Egan, R. Danielle; Hawkes, Gail (2010). Theorizing the sexual child in modernity. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire New York: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN . 
  • Gil, Eliana; Johnson, Toni Cavanagh (1993). Sexualized children: assessment and treatment of sexualized children and children who molest. Rockville, Maryland: Launch Press. ISBN . 
  • Lamb, Sharon (2006). Sex, therapy, and kids: addressing their concerns through talk and play. New York: W.W. Norton & Co. ISBN . 
  • Levy, Ariel (2006). Female chauvinist pigs: women and the rise of raunch culture. New York: Free Press. ISBN .  A review of what Levy regards as a highly sexualized American culture in which women are objectified, objectify one another, and are encouraged to objectify themselves.
  • Liebau, Carol P. (2007). Prude: how the sex-obsessed culture damages girls (and America too!). New York: Center Street. ISBN .  Looks at sex in contemporary culture and the impact it has on young girls.
  • Lorde, Audre (2000) [1984]. Uses of the erotic: the erotic as power. Tucson, Arizona: Kore Press. ISBN . 
  • McNair, Brian (2002). Striptease culture sex, media and the democratization of desire. London New York: Routledge. ISBN . 
  • Oppliger, Patrice (2008). Girls gone skank: the sexualization of girls in American culture. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company Inc., Publishers. ISBN .  Discusses issues women face in American society and how those issues reflect on young girls and teens.
  • Paasonen, Susanna; Nikunen, Kaarina; Saarenmaa, Laura (2007). Pornification: sex and sexuality in media culture. Oxford New York: Berg. ISBN . 
  • Paul, Pamela (2005). Pornified: how pornography is transforming our lives, our relationships, and our families. New York: Times Books. ISBN .  Pamela Paul discusses the impact of ready access to pornography on Americans.
  • Sarracino, Carmine; Scott, Kevin M. (2008). The porning of America: the rise of porn culture, what it means, and where we go from here. Boston, Mass: Beacon Press. ISBN .  Argues that pornography has become a mainstream part of American culture.
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