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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.These are the models of femininity presented for young girls to study and emulate.In some studies, the focus was on the sexualization of female characters across all ages, but most focused specifically on young adult women.Although extensive analyses documenting the sexualization of girls, in particular, have yet to be conducted, individual examples can easily be found.These include advertisements (e.g., the Skechers “naughty and nice” ad that featured Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl in pigtails, with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop), dolls (e.g., Bratz dolls dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings and feather boas), clothing (thongs sized for 7– to 10-year-olds, some printed with slogans such as “wink wink”), and television programs (e.g., a televised fashion show in which adult models in lingerie were presented as young girls).Although relatively few (1.5 percent) of the ads portrayed children in a sexualized manner, of those that did, 85 percent sexualized girls rather than boys.
For example, Indigenous women are 34 times more likely to be hospitalised due to family violence related assaults than non-Indigenous people. 55% of women with children presenting to specialist homelessness services nominated escaping violence as their main reason for seeking help. CWS 52, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Canberra.
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.
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.