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.
Amy Adele Hasinoff
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.
The Sexual Boundaries of French Nationalism
Julie Billaud and Julie Castro
This essay seeks to analyze the recent reconfigurations of French nationalism, taking as an entry point the legal treatment of veiled Muslim women and prostitutes over the past two decades. We argue that the bodies of prostitutes and veiled Muslim women, both of which have been targeted by successive legal interventions in order to exclude them from the public space, have become central political sites for the state to assert its sovereign power and trigger nationalist feelings. This comparative analysis of gendered “lawfare“ (which John Comaroff has defined as the judicialization of politics and the resort to legal instruments to commit acts of political coercion) provides insights into a new form of nationalism that strives to foster “sexual liberalism“ as a core value of citizenship in order to enforce a virile nationalism, prescribe new sexual normativities, and criminalize immigrants and those living at the social margins.
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.
Sexual Self-Construction in Adolescent Internet Spaces
The teen-targeted website gURL. com is committed to providing educational information about sexuality and sexual health to young girls. In this article, I analyze girls' conversations posted on the site to explore how girls mediate the factual information presented, and how they challenge the borders of the scientific discourse on adolescent sexuality. Without overvaluing the freedom of online environments, I assume that the relatively unregulated space of the Internet encourages young women to create their narratives about sexuality and to imagine themselves as sexual beings. My assumptions are informed by the analyses of Susan Driver (2005), Barclay Barrios (2004) and Susannah Stern (2002): in contrast to the disempowering and alienating effects of institutional policies, I call for the recognition of less regulated sites, which imagine youth not as passive recipients but as active agents who strategically work on developing their understanding of sexuality, and on exploring their sexual selves.
An Inquiry into the Adultification of Tween Girls’ Dressing in Singapore
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.
Dhan Zunino Singh
This article traces a genealogy of sexual harassment in Buenos Aires public transport, analyzing the intersection between gender and mobility through cultural history. It focuses on the first decades of the twentieth century in which the city became a modern metropolis and women became more visible commuters using public transport. It deals with the tensions, interactions, expectations, and representations that emerged from the increasing presence of female passengers within the male imaginary and how women became a sexualized object in order to contextualize sexual harassment and explain how it became a “natural” practice over time. Finally, this article argues that the case study triggers the need to analyze gendered mobilities paying more attention to the relationship between sexuality and transport to understand passengers as sexualized bodies.
Sexual Relations in the Collectivist Society of Tajikistan
Desire focuses on a particular object, while horniness stems from a generalized feeling of sexual arousal. In Tajikistan, people are discouraged from the former and are expected to experience their sexuality as the latter. The story of Rustam and the clashes with his father Malik over the choice of his bride serve to demonstrate the tensions between the two types of sexuality. Women have more difficulties experiencing desire than men, owing to the reification of the hymen and their expected subordination to their husbands. The conceptual differences between Rustam and his father are to some extent due to differences between collectivism and individualism. The concluding discussion suggests that Western culture may be less individualistic in this regard than is often believed.
Tween Girls, Intimacy, and Subjectivities
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.
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.