The Parents Television Council has some interesting news. A new study finds "the sexualization of young girls to be ubiquitous." Rampant!
The PTC's study was released yesterday, and according to the New York Post:
The study, which looked at the top 25 shows on broadcast television among viewers age 12-17, found that underage female characters have a higher percentage of sexual scenes compared to adult characters. It also found that only 5% of underage female characters showed any dislike about a sexual situation.
Emphasis ours. And believe it or not, they they didn't include Gossip Girl!
To be honest, there are two ways of looking at this. The sexualization of young women can be a terrible thing, turning children into objects of the male gaze, equating youth with sexiness, and generally reducing a whole and complex person to the sum of her newly blossoming parts. In addition, when sexy becomes a valued trait for young women, other qualities — being well-read, nice, or ambitious, for instance — can fall by the wayside. (See the 2007 study which found that teens would rather be seen as sexy than smart.)
On the other hand: Sexual discovery is a big part of your life from ages 12-17. Part of puberty is exploring your transitioning body, your fantasies, your desires. It's a time when we develop ideas about what's sexy, what's attractive, what we like about those we're attracted to and what they like about us. Teenagers have gobs of hormones racing around inside them, and to pretend they don't is ludicrous. So should we be upset that there are underage kids having sexytimes on TV? Or should we be upset that so many of them are female? (And are they in these situations alone? Don't they have partners?)