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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Science Says: Keep Daugther Away from "Hot Babes"

Todd Epp is right: "Middle Border Sun May Be Hazardous to Your Health"... not to mention cognitive and emotional development. Or so says the American Psychological Association in its report on the negative impacts of sexualization on girls, a report more parents ought to read:

Psychology offers several theories to explain how the sexualization of girls and women could influence girls’ well-being. Ample evidence testing these theories indicates that sexualization has negative effects in a variety of domains, including cognitive functioning, physical and mental health, sexuality, and attitudes and beliefs.

...Frequent exposure to media images that sexualize girls and women affects how girls conceptualize femininity and sexuality. Girls and young women who more frequently consume or engage with mainstream media content offer stronger endorsement of sexual stereotypes that depict women as sexual objects (Ward, 2002;Ward & Rivadeneyra, 1999; Zurbriggen & Morgan, 2006). They also place appearance and physical attractiveness at the center of women’s value.

...Exposure to narrow ideals of female sexual attractiveness may make it difficult for some men to find an “acceptable” partner or to fully enjoy intimacy with a female partner (e.g., Schooler & Ward, 2006).

Adult women may suffer by trying to conform to a younger and younger standard of ideal female beauty. More general societal effects may include an increase in sexism; fewer girls pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM); increased rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence; and an increased demand for child pornography [Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, executive summary, 2007].

Fortunately, some of us are already doing what the APA says we should to help our daughters combat the sexualization and objectification the popular culture tries to impose on them:

Strategies for parents and other caregivers include learning about the impact of sexualization on girls and coviewing media with their children in order to influence the way in which media messages are interpreted. Action by parents and families has been effective in confronting sources of sexualized images of girls. Organized religious and other ethical instruction can offer girls important practical and psychological alternatives to the values conveyed by popular culture.

Girls and girls’ groups can also work toward change. Alternative media such as “zines” (Web-based magazines), “blogs” (Web logs), and feminist magazines, books, and Web sites encourage girls to become activists who speak out and develop their own alternatives. Girl empowerment groups also support girls in a variety of ways and provide important counterexamples to sexualization [APA].

"Ridiculous," says Pat Powers? "What's the big deal?" says the supposedly but unverifiable female "Fastidious"?

Funny, I thought it was just good parenting.


  1. I keep thinking about Barbie dolls when reading this - and esp. the controversial one where the Barbie vacantly chirps, "Math is hard!"

    Now there are those horrid Bratz dolls, so that image conveys "snarly attitude" as well as the big eyeliner eyes and pouty lips curled into a snarl.

    This has been an ongoing struggle. There has been much progression since the '60's, but certainly more to go. As evident today in yet another shooting in DC today, the battle goes beyond imaging ... and respect for gender, race, religion.

    On side note: as a participant of the Blognic last year, I'm saddened by how things have mushroomed out. I'm hoping things resolve okay and without hard feelings in all parties.

  2. Barbie and Bratz—I agree! You'll find neither in our daughter's toy box. (Actually, you won't find much in her toy box, as she prefers distributed storage... a.k.a. stuff all over the floor!)

    The "mushroom" surprised me... but the topic is worth discussing and resolving. Keep your fingers crossed....

  3. Heidelberger, what's like to be so freaking enlightened and perfect? Could you give me lessons? Maybe someday I can be just like you!

  4. Bob Schwartz6/10/2009 6:14 PM

    Todd, he is just doing what you told him to do, keeping his opinions to his own blog as apparently you decided the heat in your self made kitchen was getting a bit to hot and turned off/deleted comments...

  5. Barbie....I had a crush on Ken...Ken with no genitals. What does that mean?

  6. Taunia Adams6/11/2009 11:17 AM

    In all seriousness, is Epp OK?

    I feel like we're witnessing a serious public meltdown.

    The Republican party is imploding not the Dems, except Epp, who's starting a war against his own party.

    For what it's worth, I hope the real Todd Epp comes back soon. (Or whatever problem is plaguing him is resolved soon.)

  7. I was thinking the same thing, Taunia. I'm definitely going to regret my snarky comments if it turns out it contributed to a mental break. Perhaps it's because about 90% of the comments on DakotaWomen are angry attacks so it doesn't really phase me anymore, but gulf between the provocation and reaction is wide enough here that I really have to wonder if there's something else going on.


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