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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Be careful what you wish for...

Betsy Huff, Intern

The issue of the oversexualisation of girls in our modern culture is one frequently written about in both popular and scholarly publications.  It is a concern of parents and psychologists alike.  In 2006 the American Psychological Association released a report regarding this subject.  The report lists the many causes of the unhealthy sexualisation of young girls, most of them pertaining to media images in television, movies, and music. It also cites merchandise that is inappropriately suited for young girls, clothing such as thongs that are sold for girls as young as 7, toys that display scantily clad women, and advertising that creates an unattainable physical ideal. The APA encourages parents and teachers to be aware of the societal messages they are sending to their children, particularly in regard to physical attractiveness and self-worth.  APA reports that one of the most dangerous ways girls sexualize themselves is through self-objectification: “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… 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.” 

While I agree that the media can have toxic influence on women’s body image and sexuality, particularly young girls, I do not think it is the only place of blame. The sexual revolution has had a detrimental impact on sexuality in the nation as a whole; MARRI’s Family Trend Lines reflect some of these consequences. The sexual revolution has also caused the oversexualisation of young girls. The ideals it promoted, free love, sex outside of marriage, and the uninhibited use of contraceptives to allow for a lifestyle of promiscuity minus the physical consequences or risk, have not given women freedom in their sexuality, but have only created bondage.  Choice and freedom in sexual exploration have not gained women the respect and dignity as holistic human beings they desire, nor has it given them more power over their bodies and sexuality. Instead it has encouraged a hedonistic attitude toward sex. It has allowed men to continue objectifying women as nothing more than a source of sexual pleasure and women to objectify themselves in a feeble attempt to gain joy in their sexuality that only comes from the security and commitment of a monogamous relationship.

There are women who recognize this issue and are combating the oversexualisation of women in society particularly the media. Kara Eschbach, editor of the recently created Verily magazine, speaks of the magazine’s vision for their particular audience of young professional women saying, “We are aiming to show style that respects our dignity, instead of compromising it; to explore our relationships, not just sex; and feature thought provoking articles, not just rhetoric.”  The solution to the objectifying of women in society is to promote and protect true femininity and sexuality in the framework of strong marriages and families.  Sexuality should indeed be celebrated, after all it was created and given to us by God, but it should also be protected and cherished in the sacred context in which it belongs.

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