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Amy Adele Hasinoff

Sexualization might seem like a sympathetic explanation for sexting because it positions girls as innocent victims of mass culture. However, there are problematic unintended consequences with understanding sexting, the practice of sharing personal sexual content via mobile phones or the internet, in this particular way. One troubling implication is that it provides a rationale for holding girls who sext criminally responsible for producing child pornography. A second is that when girls' acceptance of sexualization is positioned as a key social problem, the solution that emerges is that girls must raise their self-esteem and gain better media literacy skills. Despite the value of such skills, a focus on girls' deficiencies can divert attention from the perpetrators of gender- and sexuality-based violence. Finally, discourses about sexualization often erase girls' capacity for choice, relying instead on normative assumptions about healthy sexuality. Interrogating the pathologization of girls' apparent conformity to sexualization and mass culture highlights the complexity of agency.

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Beyond the Discourse of Sexualization

An Inquiry into the Adultification of Tween Girls’ Dressing in Singapore

Bernice Loh

In order to explore the adultification of tween girls in Singapore through the way they dress, I begin this article by taking stock of the arguments in the discourse of sexualization. In further elucidating the cultural specificities of girlhood, I point out how tween girls’ fashioning of themselves after adults in Singapore presents some challenges to the ways that the adultification of tween girls’ dressing has been commonly theorized. I show that although the adultification of tween girls’ dressing forms a large part of the debate in the discourse of sexualization, tween girls’ fashioning of themselves after adults should not be assumed to be an exclusive outcome and process of improper and premature sexualization in culturally-specific contexts like Singapore. This article, therefore, explores a different way of thinking about tween girls who are dressing up in more adult-like ways, and suggests the need to be careful about extrapolating from arguments made in the (Western) discourse of sexualisation about this phenomenon.

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We're Taking Back Sexy

Girl Bloggers SPARK a Movement and Create Enabling Conditions for Healthy Sexuality

Lyn Mikel Brown

SPARK, Sexualization Protest Action Resistance Knowledge, is an intergenerational movement that raises awareness about, and pushes back against, the sexualization of women and girls in the media to create room for whole girls. In this article, I document the ways in which the SPARKTeam, a diverse collection of young feminist bloggers, contributes to the creation of conditions that enable healthy sexuality by using their blogs to reclaim what it means to be sexy, and to invite creative forms of resistance to media sexualization.

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From Selfies to Sexting

Tween Girls, Intimacy, and Subjectivities

Antonio García-Gómez

In this article I attempt to contribute to the debates on sexualization, and on tweens’ sexual agency and choice by reporting on a qualitative study of how 53 tween girls self-presented in discourse in the context of sexting (sending sexually explicit text messages and pictures to others). More specifically, the study aims to interrogate tweens’ sexual agency and the complexity of girls’ choices by analyzing their evaluative beliefs about, and motivations for, sexting. I argue that the contradictory discursive constructions of multiple femininities not only illustrate issues of regulation and resistance, but also highlight the blurred boundaries between dominant culture and agency. My findings suggest that the sexual agency implied in sexting shows the tension between the reproduction of dominant culture and hegemony and the presence of a feminine discourse of empowerment.

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Helmut Graupner

The basic human right to sexual autonomy and self‐determination encompasses two sides: it enshrines both the right to engage in wanted sexuality on the one hand, and the right to be free and protected from unwanted sexuality, from sexual abuse and sexual violence on the other. This concept elaborated by the European Court of Human Rights, in the light of European legal consensus, suggests that the age of consent for sexual relations (outside of relationships of authority and outside of pornography and prostitution) should be set between 12 and 16 years. In any event the age of criminal responsibility should be the same as the age of sexual consent.

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An Afternoon of Productive Play with Problematic Dolls

The Importance of Foregrounding Children's Voices in Research

Rebecca C. Hains

Bratz dolls, popular among pre-adolescent girls, have been the subject of widespread criticism. Many scholars, activists, educators, and parents have argued that the scantily clad fashion dolls contribute to the sexualization of girls that has been decried by the American Psychological Association, among others. As is often the case in studies of girls' popular culture, however, these conversations about the problems with Bratz have rarely incorporated the voices of girls in the brand's target audience. To address this gap, this article analyzes an afternoon of Bratz doll play by a small group of African-American girls, aged between 8 and 10 years. This article suggests that although critical concerns about Bratz' sexualization are warranted, the dolls' racial diversity may benefit some girls' play, enabling them to productively negotiate complex issues of racial identity, racism, and history while paying little attention to the dolls' sexualized traits.

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Sexual imbalance in frontier communities

Siberia and New France to 1760

David N. Collins

Eminent historians in Canada have contended that pioneer societies often experience marked sexual imbalance in their early stages, having far fewer women than men. Certain Soviet historians tended to deny the existence of such a problem in Siberia. Since the two regions match each other in many ways (they enjoy similar geographical conditions, were settled by European peoples at roughly the same historical period for analogous purposes and were both governed in a centralised military/bureaucratic fashion), an investigation was undertaken into the reasons for Canadian and Soviet disagreements over the issue. Concentrating on the period of earliest exploration and settlement, before large-scale British immigration, the study predominantly compares Russian settlement in Siberia with its French equivalent in New France. Data from both sides make it quite clear that in the early stages there were fewer women than there were men, that the imbalances were overcome during a century or more in regions where agriculture was possible, but persisted in more northerly territories or unstable military zones. The sources from which women came were: interbreeding with indigenous peoples, government attempts to provide women for male settlers and rapid natural increase, with the probability that more female than male offspring survived. Clear parallels exist between the Siberian and Canadian experience, despite the cultural, economic and political differences. Soviet denials of an early imbalance seem to have been dictated by a need to prove that the USSR had never experienced colonialism of the type characteristic of the European empires.

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Shane Harrison

Gartner, Richard B., ed. 2018. Understanding the Sexual Betrayal of Boys and Men: The Trauma of Sexual Abuse. Oxon: Routledge. 368 pp. $44.95. ISBN 978-1-138- 94222-6 (paperback) Gartner, Richard B., ed. 2018. Healing Sexually Betrayed Men and Boys: Treatment for Sexual Abuse, Assault, and Trauma. Oxon: Routledge. 352 pp. $44.95. ISBN 978-1-138-94225-7 (paperback)

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Joanna Bourke

This article explores Pinker’s analysis of sexual violence in modern history. It argues that his analysis is flawed because of a selective choice of data, a minimization of certain harms, the application of an evolutionary psychology approach, the failure to interrogate new forms of aggression, and a refusal to acknowledge the political underpinnings of his research. By failing to acknowledge and then control for his own ideological bias, Pinker has missed an opportunity to convincingly explain the changing nature of violence in our societies.

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Katherine Clonan-Roy

In 1988, Michelle Fine explored the ways in which damaging patriarchal discourses about sexuality affect adolescent girls, and hinder their development of sexual desire, subjectivities, and responsibility. In this article, I emphasize the durability and pliability of those discourses three decades later. While they have endured, they shift depending on context and the intersections of girls’ race, class, and gender identities. Calling on ethnographic research, I analyze the intersectional nuances in these sexual lessons for Latina girls in one (New) Latinx Diaspora town.