It’s no secret that modern culture is saturated with sex. Every magazine cover from Cosmopolitan to Seventeen, Marie Claire and Glamour include topics like, “How to Have Better Sex,” “How to Look Sexier,” and “How to Become a Sex Goddess.” Television industry statistics state that sex scenes have nearly doubled since 1998 and 70% of programming includes some type of sexual content. On average, these programs have 5 sexual images or scenes per hour! The objectification and exploitation of women is increasingly prevalent in online games and video games. Women are often shown as sex objects or victims of sexual abuse
These troubling statistics pose the question, what is the influence of this sexual saturation on young gurls today? Studies indicate that the children of parents who are open about the topic of sex handle sexual issues better than children who do not discuss sex with their parents. Yet I have to ask, how many modern households are even talking about sex? It certainly was not discussed in the house I grew up in. I always knew that sex was the one issue I couldn’t discuss with my parents because of their religious views. But religious views aside, couldn’t they have given me a realistic explanation of what sex was like? Couldn’t they have offered an explanation better than the recycled questionable portrayals from movies, romance novels, magazines and internet culture? The truth is that back in our parents’ childhood and even our grandparents’ childhood, sex wasn’t an openly discussed topic. Sex education was the school’s responsibility. And between all of the giggling and rushing through the information, most students didn’t learn much.
Nowadays young gurls are increasingly exposed to sexualization at a younger age. For example, Mattel, the makers of Barbie, had to discontinue “Lingerie Barbie” and “her heavenly bustier ensemble.” Perhaps even more popular than Barbie these days are the “Bratz Dolls” with “flirty and seductive clothing” including “miniskirts and fishnet stockings.” The American Psychological Society stated “it is worrisome when dolls specifically for 4 to 8 year olds are associated with objectified adult sexuality.”
Young gurls are also reaching puberty earlier in adolescence, some even as young as 8 years old. I was 12 before I hit puberty and that was only 16 years ago. In our parents’ generation and generations past, gurls didn’t hit puberty until well into their early teens, around age 14 or 15. A wide variety of chemicals and hormones are thought to be responsible for this phenomenon of reaching puberty earlier. Even if this is the case, the true problem is that with gurls maturing at such a young age, they have technically entered womanhood, however they are not fully equipped with a woman’s reasoning or the ability to deal with the emotional side of these big changes; they are still little gurls at heart.
The American Psychological Society believes that viewing material that is sexually objectifying can contribute to body dissatisfaction, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression and can even contribute to physical health problems in high school aged gurls and in young women. Gurls watching, reading and being shown females who are portrayed as sex objects can lead to variety of problems, not the least of which includes self-confidence and being comfortable with their own bodies.
Is there a solution to the over sexualisation of society, particularly with respect to young gurls? The solution is not blame a low cut blouse or short skirt but rather to educate young gurls to think for themselves. Young gurls need to be taught to have confidence in who they are and what they are capable of. They need to know that sex is not how it is portrayed in the media. Sex as recreation, commerce, exploitation, status and even violence is wrongfully portrayed by mainstream media.
Positive sexual knowledge also comes from parents and other influential adults in a young gurl’s life. Focusing on a gurls inner strengths and talents will help to shape her life; developing strong attributes will guide her through sexual issues. Times have changed and being educated about sex at home is healthy. This topic is important as gurls need to know the truth about sex, from someone they trust, and not the unrealistic portrayal that mainstream media presents.