Sex in Play: From Dolls to Sports, Sexualized Culture Affects Youth
with Elizabeth Daniels and Aurora Sherman, assistant professors of psychology at OSU-Cascades and OSU respectively
Sex may sell everything from magazines to perfume, but the effects of pervasive sexuality in marketing and consumer products go far beyond the cash register.
In 2007, the American Psychological Association released a report — APA Report on the Sexualization of Girls — on the impacts of media displays of women as sexual objects. It summarized what psychologists know about how exposure to sexualized images harms children and teens — depression, lowered aspirations, eating disorders, lack of assertiveness, unhealthy sexual behavior, dissatisfaction with their own appearance — and offered recommendations to counteract them.
Two psychologists — Aurora Sherman at Oregon State University and Elizabeth Daniels at OSU-Cascades in Bend — are exploring the consequences of sexualization for child development. They suggest that it takes media savvy and strong role models to promote healthy development in the face of what the APA calls “the massive exposure to portrayals that sexualize women and girls and teach girls that women are sexual objects.”