Network Television Is None Too Kind to Teen Girls

Teenage female characters are the butts of jokes that rise "to the level of sexual exploitation" according to a new study on network comedies.

A report issued by the Parents Television Council this week says the advocacy group's latest study reveals "the frequency with which sexual humor is used to communicate beliefs and perpetuate offensive narrowly defined female stereotypes among underage girls."

The study examined 238 sitcoms and dramas airing in 2011 and 2012 and found that a third of those episodes included sexually exploitative content of females. However, underage girls were more likely to be the target of sexually exploitive humor than adult women, at a rate of 43 percent compared to 33 percent.

Among the sitcom humor cited by the report: A May 2012 episode of "Family Guy" in which teenager Meg appears onstage and an announcer says, "This girl is perfect if you want to buy a sex slave, but don't want to spend sex slave money."

It's bad that I laughed at that joke, according to the PTC president Tim Winter, who points out that mocking the sexual trafficking of young women isn't exactly a respectful or healthy image for the media to present to teens, who are having "difficulty managing the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate sexual conduct."

For its study, the PTC said it relied on the United Nations definition of sexual exploitation "as involving abuse of a position of vulnerability, power, or trust for sexual purposes including profiting financially, socially or politically."

Female TV characters are sexual targets, says new study [CBS News]