Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Sexualization: Where do you see it?

In a full window display, women wear scanty lingerie, their breast spilling out of bustiers as they hold masks and tape made for binding partners during sex acts. A man looks on, eyeing the women like so many delectable objects from which to choose. The words “Are you pleasure bound?” are emblazoned across the window. The captive audience for this scene? Preschoolers in a mall’s dedicated children’s play area.

spensers window display

Victoria’s Secret, a megabrand famous for their sexy fashion shows and advertisements depicting lingerie clad women creates a new line with products covered with the phrases “wild thing,” “let’s get wild,” and “let’s party.” The target audience? Twelve to fifteen year old girls.

A leading retailer markets padded push-up bras….for its kids line. Baby dolls wear lipstick, belly shirts and low slung pants and skirts.

Children and adolescents are surrounded by sexualized media and marketing. Where have you seen this? Which media are most guilty of sexualization? What about marketing campaigns? Are there some that make you shudder or reach for the remote? I’d love to hear some of your examples.

4 comments on “Sexualization: Where do you see it?

  1. Paul Mathis
    March 25, 2013

    I love ACU. I love my student worker job at the Campus Store. I hate that we sell shorts that are too short to fit the hypothetical dress code. Further, we have them available in children’s sizes, as well. This is awful. We complain about the decisions our daughters make regarding their dress and appearance, yet we create the environment for them to make those decisions. If we promote sexualization on a Christian campus, how can we be surprised or upset that mainstream companies do the same thing?

    Or am I just too cynical?

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 25, 2013

      Great observation, Paul! Dress has changed, there’s no question about it. Check out my post called Bringing Sexy Down. It’s about age compression and the marketing of products, images, and experiences to ever younger groups.

      I think you’re also seeing the effect that the mainstreaming of pornography has had on our collective idea that sexiness is the highest value for females.

  2. Lauren Carnathan
    March 25, 2013

    Thank you SO much for this blog, Jennifer. I don’t know you, but I’ve been a reader for years now. I’m a youth minister in Fort Worth.

    I just got back from a (weekly) trip to Walmart. I go there often, much to my dismay, with my co-worker. Our Walmart is always packed and never has enough lanes open, so we usually end up waiting for several minutes before being checked out. Today I noticed a scantily clad Lea Michelle on a Cosmopolitan magazine. Not at my eye-level, but at a child’s eye-level. I see this all the time and it makes me crazy! Many times I’ll turn the magazine backwards because the images are so offensive.

    It angers me that places like grocery stores are okay with placing these advertisements at eye-level with children! I don’t really want them at my eye-level either, but how can it benefit ANYONE to have a young child looking at magazines with women who are barely dressed on them?

    • Jennifer Shewmaker
      March 25, 2013

      Thanks for your comment, Lauren! The tabloids and fashion magazines that focus so completely on objectifying women are a huge issue. While it may not seem like a big deal to some, this idea of female as object gets in our heads. If we’re not thoughtful, It changes the way that all of us think about female value.

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This entry was posted on March 25, 2013 by in Recognizing and tagged , , .

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