Sexualization Of Teen Girls
Special Report - December 28, 2010
Teenage girls have become the “prime target of female sexualization” on primetime television, according to a new report by the Parents Television Council (PTC) released this month. The report, “Sexualized Teen Girls: Tinsel Town’s New Target,” details the findings of the PTC’s content analysis of the most popular programs on broadcast television among 12 to 17 year-olds, such as “The Office,” “Glee,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Lost.” Out of 45 episodes of 14 programs that aired during the 2009-10 season, the PTC reviewers identified 246 incidents involving the sexualization of minor female characters (sexualization was defined in the report as “making a person, group or thing to be seen as a sexual in nature, or a person to become aware of their sexuality”). According to the report, whenever underage female characters were featured onscreen in the programs included in the review, more sexual content was depicted, there were fewer negative responses from the female characters about being sexualized, more sexual incidents occurred in uncommitted relationships, and there was “less accuracy in the television content rating” that is supposed to help parents determine the suitability of specific programs for their children.
Among the PTC study’s major findings:
Minor (or underage) female characters were shown participating in a higher percentage of sexualized depictions than adult females (49 percent versus 29 percent, respectively).
- 86 percent of all the sexualized depictions of underage or young adult females presented the characters as being high school age;
- Only five percent of the female characters “expressed dislike of being sexualized” in scenes that depicted “unhealthy sexuality.”
- 73 percent of sexualized incidents involving underage girls were presented as humorous or as a joke;
- 98 percent of sexualized incidents involving minor females took place in uncommitted relationships;
- 75 percent of the programs that depicted the sexualization of underage females had no S-descriptor to warn parents about sexual content.
“Storylines on the most popular shows among teens are sending the message to our daughters that being sexualized isn’t just acceptable, it should be sought after,” said Tim Winter, PTC president, in a press release. “It is outrageous that TV executives have made it their business to profit off of programs that depict teen girls blissfully being sexualized by casual partners and only showing disapproval for being sexualized five percent of the time.”
The report encourages parents to pay closer attention to the television programs their adolescents are watching and includes tips for parents from the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2007 report on the sexualization of girls, including that parents watch television with their children, educate them about healthy sexuality, and model appropriate viewing and buying behaviors.
TV Violence Against Women Increases - November 9, 2009
Sexualization Impacts Girls' Health - February 22, 2007
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