Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Define: Sexualisation

In preparation for an upcoming blog post discussing issues surrounding how modesty is taught to girls, I wanted to give a quick definition for "sexualisation," so there's no confusion as to what I'm talking about. 

Sexualisation is not a synonym for sexuality. Sexuality is a good gift from God, natural and normal. Sexualisation it is an external imposition of sexual characteristics in places where they don't naturally exist. 

The American Psychological Association defines it as follows: "Here are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when
  • -a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
    -a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
    -a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
    -sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person.
All four conditions need not be present; any one is an indication of sexualization."

So, for example, on the movie poster for Now You See Me that I reviewed in a previous post, Henley is sexualised by the first condition because she is not shown as a person with purpose and drive as the other characters, but simply as a sexy person. Bikinis and heels for toddlers, or baby onesies with slogans like "Hung like a 5-year-old" (They exist. Much worse slogans exist.) sexualise children by the fourth condition. A lot of advertising in fashion magazines (cologne seems to be a particularly bad offender) sexualise women according to the third condition by displaying women as sexual accessories (often in vulnerable positions). And the effects of the second condition are all around us.

These are just a few examples of a widespread problem, and I could easily give dozens more, but the definition is the important part, the part that I would like my readers to be carrying with them whenever I do get around to finishing the mega-post on modesty that I've got brewing...

1 comment:

  1. Good! My only comment - it would be great if you tweaked and even redefined the American Psychological Association's definition, as (1) I'm sure there can be a more detailed and accurate definition and (2) I frankly dislike the APA's way of doing some things in general, and I distrust their definitions of anything, particularly after DSM-5 (which is their cousins, I know, but the psychologists and psychiatrists are both at fault here).