This is an important question for us to ask. We’ve talked about how viewing yourself as an object and focusing on your value only in terms of your sexual attractiveness can impact girls. But what about boys? Do the messages that they get about women have an effect on them?
One of the most interesting conversations that I’ve had recently was middle school boys about this topic. They say, in no uncertain terms, that the pervasive sexual images and depictions of women does impact them.
What they tell me is that it does three things:
1. Confuses them about how they should act toward girls. They get mixed messages “honor your sisters” and then again “it’s good for a girl to be hot.” As an adolescent male, how do you handle both of those messages?
2. Encourages them to make choices about the girls they choose to spend time with in a different way. Boys say, I really like this person, she’s fun and smart and we have a great time together. But….nobody else thinks she’s pretty or “hot.” People will make fun of me if I hang out with her.
3. Alienates them when they’re not at a stage where they’re ready to be in a romantic relationship. It’s really natural for a young adolescent boy to not be interested in having a romantic relationship with a girl yet. He just wants to hang out with friends of both genders. But, he often gets the message that his prime focus should be on getting a girlfriend. It’s hard to deal with this difference in his own wants and the pressures that he feels from others.
So, yes, the sexualization and objectification of females in the media does impact boys. What can we do to help our boy see things differently?