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S/O judging girls by hemlines - the sexualization of girls

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My daughter, 12, and I often have conversations about this topic as she grows up. In my opinion, it is a very important one - because girls are disproportionately impacted by the toxic aspects of our culture when it comes to sex and sexuality. I embrace the responsibility of my role to guide my daughter, and it starts with educating her, and then teaching her the perspectives and values I wish for her to embrace. Being a feminist means to make free, aware, educated choices when it comes to one's sexuality.


Below are some resources (links) and some excerpts from them:


http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx

There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when

  • a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or 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.

All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality....

Virtually every media form studied provides ample evidence of the sexualization of women, including television, music videos, music lyrics, movies, magazines, sports media, video games, the Internet and advertising....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.

Societal messages that contribute to the sexualization of girls come not only from media and merchandise but also through girls’ interpersonal relationships (e.g., with parents, teachers, and peers...Parents may contribute to sexualization in a number of ways. For example, parents may convey the message that maintaining an attractive physical appearance is the most important goal for girls. Some may allow or encourage plastic surgery to help girls meet that goal. Research shows that teachers sometimes encourage girls to play at being sexualized adult women or hold beliefs that girls of color are “hypersexual” and thus unlikely to achieve academic success. Both male and female peers have been found to contribute to the sexualization of girls — girls by policing each other to ensure conformance with standards of thinness and sexiness and boys by sexually objectifying and harassing girls. Finally, at the extreme end, parents, teachers and peers, as well as others (e.g., other family members, coaches, or strangers) sometimes sexually abuse, assault, prostitute or traffic girls, a most destructive form of sexualization....

If girls purchase (or ask their parents to purchase) products and clothes designed to make them look physically appealing and sexy, and if they style their identities after the sexy celebrities who populate their cultural landscape, they are, in effect, sexualizing themselves. Girls also sexualize themselves when they think of themselves in objectified terms. Psychological researchers have identified self-objectification as a key process whereby girls learn to think of and treat their own bodies as objects of others’ desires. In self-objectification, girls internalize an observer’s perspective on their physical selves and learn to treat themselves as objects to be looked at and evaluated for their appearance. Numerous studies have documented the presence of self-objectification in women more than in men. Several studies have also documented this phenomenon in adolescent and preadolescent girls....

Cognitively, self-objectification has been repeatedly shown to detract from the ability to concentrate and focus one’s attention, thus leading to impaired performance on mental activities such as mathematical computations or logical reasoning. One study demonstrated this fragmenting quite vividly. While alone in a dressing room, college students were asked to try on and evaluate either a swimsuit or a sweater. While they waited for 10 minutes wearing the garment, they completed a math test. The results revealed that young women in swimsuits performed significantly worse on the math problems than did those wearing sweaters. No differences were found for young men. In other words, thinking about the body and comparing it to sexualized cultural ideals disrupted mental capacity. In the emotional domain, sexualization and objectification undermine confidence in and comfort with one’s own body, leading to a host of negative emotional consequences, such as shame, anxiety, and even self-disgust. The association between self-objectification and anxiety about appearance and feelings of shame has been found in adolescent girls (12–13-year-olds) as well as in adult women....

Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression or depressed mood. Several studies (on both teenage and adult women) have found associations between exposure to narrow representations of female beauty (e.g., the “thin ideal”) and disordered eating attitudes and symptoms. Research also links exposure to sexualized female ideals with lower self-esteem, negative mood and depressive symptoms among adolescent girls and women. In addition to mental health consequences of sexualization, research suggests that girls’ and women’s physical health may also be negatively affected, albeit indirectly....

Sexual well-being is an important part of healthy development and overall well-being, yet evidence suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences in terms of girls’ ability to develop healthy sexuality. Self-objectification has been linked directly with diminished sexual health among adolescent girls (e.g., as measured by decreased condom use and diminished sexual assertiveness). Frequent exposure to narrow ideals of attractiveness is associated with unrealistic and/or negative expectations concerning sexuality. Negative effects (e.g., shame) that emerge during adolescence may lead to sexual problems in adulthood....

Frequent exposure to media images that sexualize girls and women affects how girls conceptualize femininity and sexuality. Girls and young women who more frequently consume or engage with mainstream media content offer stronger endorsement of sexual stereotypes that depict women as sexual objects. They also place appearance and physical attractiveness at the center of women’s value....

The sexualization of girls can also have a negative impact on other groups (i.e., boys, men, and adult women) and on society more broadly. Exposure to narrow ideals of female sexual attractiveness may make it difficult for some men to find an “acceptable” partner or to fully enjoy intimacy with a female partner.

Adult women may suffer by trying to conform to a younger and younger standard of ideal female beauty. More general societal effects may include an increase in sexism; fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM); increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence; and an increased demand for child pornography.

by on Feb. 18, 2013 at 11:50 AM
Replies (11-19):
Goodwoman614
by Satan on Feb. 18, 2013 at 9:15 PM

Yeah bump. For tumbleweeds. For our daughters.

*sigh*

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2013 at 9:41 PM
2 moms liked this

Maybe clothes don't define who you are, but at least they give impression of who you are/ or how you choose people to think who you are. (Unless of course you were forcibly put in that clothes LOL)

Parents should teach their children what is appropriate to wear to school, office, party and ect.

The rules of etiquette still applies, like it or not. 

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2013 at 9:41 PM

BUMP

annabl1970
by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2013 at 9:41 PM
1 mom liked this

BUMP

Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:29 PM

I haven't read through the whole article, but I think this is a very important issue to discuss here on CM.  I have a daughter that is 23.  I was always strict on what she wore to school.  Just as I was strict on her not getting tattoos, piercings or dye her hair.  I always saw what she wore to school, as I was home.  So, it made it easier. 

Once she turned 18 & off to college, she basically made those decisions.  But, I feel I raised her well enough, that I knew she would make good choices.  :)  Unfortunately, especially these days, what a girl wears is how guys will preceive you as.  But, once your 18 I feel a young woman should be able to experience a little, without having to worry all the time what a 'guy' would think when they look at you. 

soonergirl980
by Silver Member on Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:33 PM
1 mom liked this

AMEN! I think parents are severely lacking. Every time I go to an FRG meeting, dh's work function, or ball I wonder where the parents where when so many of the girls were learning to dress. You should not come to an event with you husband's bosses and families looking like you just got done working the street corner.


Quoting annabl1970:

Maybe clothes don't define who you are, but at least they give impression of who you are/ or how you choose people to think who you are. (Unless of course you were forcibly put in that clothes LOL)

Parents should teach their children what is appropriate to wear to school, office, party and ect.

The rules of etiquette still applies, like it or not. 



parentalrights1
by on Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:39 PM
1 mom liked this
I think our society needs to realize that sexuality isn't inherently wrong and if someone wants to express their sexuality then they shouldn't be defined by that. That is societies flaw, not the women
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
parentalrights1
by on Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:40 PM
2 moms liked this
I don't understand how people can know that the concept of purity and body shame are learned behaviors, but still embrace attitudes tht have held down and harmed women for so long
Posted on the NEW CafeMom Mobile
Naturewoman4
by Platinum Member on Feb. 18, 2013 at 10:54 PM

 I agree.  I myself love clothes.  I like feeling/looking like a woman.  I like being feminine, but I also like feeling a little 'sexy' too.  I like a blend of the two.  In Summer, I love to wear sundresses & skirts.  I love to wear them kinda short, along with my flip flops or cute sandals.  I also like showing a little 'clevage' with tank tops or cute halter tops.  (my daughter doesn't like that though).  Idk, I just think that one has to be themselves, but of course age appropriate. 

Up to about 3 yrs. ago I also wore short-shorts.  I love the look of a short skirt, with boots.  When it comes to our daughters, it's all about age appropriateness.  I really hate it when I see mothers exploiting their daughters like in those pageants.  I remember, when my daughter was in Elementary School.  There was this one 'popular' girl that was very pretty & her mom allowed her to dress 'sexy'.  I thought to myself "wow, her daughter is going to attract the boys & might be pregnant young".....Well, it came true.  That's exactly what happen to this girl.  No college, pregnant while in High School, working as a waitress now. 

Quoting annabl1970:

Maybe clothes don't define who you are, but at least they give impression of who you are/ or how you choose people to think who you are. (Unless of course you were forcibly put in that clothes LOL)

Parents should teach their children what is appropriate to wear to school, office, party and ect.

The rules of etiquette still applies, like it or not. 


 

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