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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 (e.g., Gow, 1996; Grauerholz & King, 1997; Krassas, Blauwkamp,& Wesselink, 2001, 2003; Lin, 1997; Plous & Neptune, 1997; Vincent, 1989; Ward, 1995).Some studies have examined forms of media that are especially popular with children and adolescents, such as video games and teen-focused magazines.
Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized.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.In 2005, APA adopted the policy resolution on *Violence in Video Games and Interactive Media (PDF, 89KB), which documented the negative impact of exposure to violent interactive media on children and youth and called for the reduction of violence in these media.These resolutions and reports addressed how violent media and advertising affect children and youth, but they did not address sexualization.Research documenting the pervasiveness and influence of such products and portrayals is sorely needed.
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; Brown & Gilligan, 1992).
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.
APA has long been involved in issues related to the impact of media content on children.
In 1994, APA adopted a policy resolution on Violence in Mass Media, which updated and expanded an earlier resolution on televised violence.
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 (Eder, 1995; Nichter, 2000) and boys by sexually objectifying and harassing girls.