Half-naked fifteen year olds, clearly what we need

Today’s sexism in the media rant focuses on a disturbing trend of sexualizing children.  Now I admit I have some somewhat old fogie-esque views on this topic, because I think the longer people wait to have sex, in most cases, the better.  As much as I embrace sexual freedom in some ways, and am uncomfortable saying that you shouldn’t be allowed to have sex if you’re under eighteen (and definitely don’t think we should demonize those that do), it bothers me that children and young teenagers are having sex.  Maybe this is part of my middle-class privilege, in that I was “protected” from that in ways (and also just exempted by the fortunate fact that I was not a gorgeous fifteen-year-old), but it creeps me out when I see children marketed as sex objects.

Feministing recently posted two examples, here and here.  The poster’s focus in showing the first ad, a creepy television spot demonstrating how a new cell phone can be used for stalking your sleeping neighbor, was that stalking/objectification is wrong.  The poster’s focus in the second ad, a BMW magazine spread, is again the objectification of the woman pictured.  Both perfectly good points, but I was surprised that neither poster noted that the “women” shown are teenaged girls.  The actresses themselves may be eighteen, but I would pin them both in the 12-15 age range.  What creeps me out is not only that we’re objectifying women, but that we’re objectifying kids, more or less.  Especially in the second ad, the whole “yeah, you know she’s not a virgin” message nearly made my mouth drop open.  Sure, in today’s culture perhaps it’s not inaccurate to assume that a teenager or preteen has probably been abused in the past, but should we be celebrating it?

About Avory

Avory Faucette is a queer feminist activist, writer, and public speaker. Zie graduated from the University of Iowa with a JD in 2009, focusing on international human rights and gender/sexuality issues in the law. Hir current work focuses on queer identity, policy, and marginalized identities under the queer umbrella. As a genderqueer person, zie comments frequently on non-binary identity, transgender and genderqueer issues, and media coverage of these populations. Zie also speaks at colleges, universities, and events on transgender and queer issues and conducts trainings on related topics.

Posted on July 19, 2008, in media, pop culture, sexuality and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I couldn’t get the first video to load, but the second one was definitely disturbing. I don’t think your discomfort with the sexualization of children in the media is out of place. I think we should all be disturbed by it. I know I am.

  2. Great post. The models do seem to be getting younger. And I don’t think it’s just because we’re getting older.

    Check out this article on the same topic at Alternet:

  3. alesbianandascholar

    Meg – It’s not so much that I think I shouldn’t be uncomfortable with media sexualization, it’s more that I know the root of that is that I’m thinking “these children shouldn’t be having sex!” and that’s a value judgement. It’s tough, though, because if I’m being honest I really think that kids *shouldn’t* have sex as teenagers because it’s best to be grown up and informed first. I don’t think we should ostracize those who do, however.

    Noticed – Thanks for the link! I’ll check it out.

  4. I agree, since I’ve parented four girls to womanhood and three to mairage, it’s not easy being green.

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