Sometimes its hard not to laugh at these headlines because they are so obvious. I guess it is nice to have some research to back up the obvious–hence this report from the American Psychological Association on the negative effects of media sexualization on women and girls. First, they operationalize sexualization:
The provocative research included a study of published research on the content and effects of virtually every form of media, including television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the Internet. Researchers also examined recent advertising campaigns and merchandising of products aimed toward girls.
Sexualization was defined by the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls as occurring when a person’s value comes only from her/his sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified, e.g., made into a thing for another’s sexual use.
Then later they lay out the negative effects:
• Cognitive and Emotional Consequences: Sexualization and objectification undermine a person’s confidence in and comfort with her own body, leading to emotional and self-image problems, such as shame and anxiety.
• Mental and Physical Health: Research links sexualization with three of the most common mental health problems diagnosed in girls and women—eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression or depressed mood.
• Sexual Development: Research suggests that the sexualization of girls has negative consequences on girls’ ability to develop a healthy sexual self-image.
The report also suggests families and health professionals take an active role in countering this trend. They even suggest media literacy classes. What is missing, unfortunately, is any direct accountability for media outlets. The report does not suggest that media stop doing this; rather they suggest that we teach girls and young women how to cope with it.
What do you think? If we really wanted to take on patriarchal media capitalism, would it work, or should we focus more on teaching girls/women how to cope? What kinds of actions could people use to get media outlets to change? What about the good old fashioned boycott? Is that dead? What do you think?