How the Media is Sexualising Your Children PDF Print E-mail

To read this article with pictures, as published in the June edition of JOY! Magazine (on sale now), click here.

Teen idol Miley Cyrus, caused controversy at the MTV Video Music Awards last year with a raunchy performance with Robin Thicke. Along with her explicit music video Wrecking Ball, this has led media commentators to wonder if she is the new Madonna.

In 2006 Cyrus rose to prominence after being cast in the Disney Channel television series Hannah Montana, in which she portrayed the starring character Miley Stewart, who leads a double life as pop star Hannah Montana. As per usual in the movies, she has the perfect body and hooks a ‘cool’ boyfriend in the end.

In 2010, pictures of girls, some as young as eight, dressed in red and black lingerie performing a racy dance routine to Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” at a dance contest went viral on the internet, parents around the world were shocked. Yet what was just as shocking, was that the parents of the girls involved approved!

Other examples are just as alarming. A Sketchers’ “naughty and nice” advert featured pop star Christina Aguilera dressed as a schoolgirl in pigtails, with her shirt unbuttoned, licking a lollipop. Bratz and Barbie dolls come dressed in sexualized clothing such as miniskirts, fishnet stockings, and feather boas. G-string panties sized for 7 to 10-year-olds, are printed with slogans such as “wink, wink”. T-shirts for girls display slogans such as “hot chick” and “boyfriend material”.

The Message in the Media
Girls get this message repeatedly: What matters is how ‘hot’ or ‘sexy’ they look. It plays on TV and across the Internet. You hear it in song lyrics and music videos. You see it in movies, electronic games, and clothing stores. It’s a powerful message.

Most of us are concerned about the intrusion of pornography into every facet of society, yet we should be just as concerned about the portrayal of girls and women as flirtatious sex objects which fuels the pornography and prostitution industries.

Girls at Risk
Research conducted by an American Psychological Association Task Force links sexualisation with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem, and depression.

Frequent exposure to media images that sexualize girls affects how girls conceptualise femininity and sexuality. Girls who more frequently consume mainstream media tend to accept sexual stereotypes that depict women as sexual objects. They also place sexual attractiveness at the centre of their personal value.

Why have parents uncritically accepted these sexually immoral messages marketed at their children?

Are we perhaps like the proverbial frog in the slowly heating pot, that we haven’t noticed just how sexually immoral our society has become? Have we failed to study and obey God’s Word?

God’s Word
What does God’s Word say? A woman is first and foremost valuable because she is made in His image. “Unfading beauty” comes from a “gentle and quiet spirit” (1 Peter 3:4). “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised” (Proverbs 31:30).

Vision Forum sums up the vision of bringing back Biblical girlhood beautifully, “In a world that frowns on femininity, that minimizes motherhood, and that belittles the beauty of being a true woman of God, we should dare to believe that the Biblical vision for girlhood is a glorious vision. It is a vision for purity and contentment, for faith and fortitude, for enthusiasm and industry, for heritage and home, and for joy and friendship. It is a vision so bright and so wonderful that it must be boldly proclaimed.”

What You Can Do
Teach your daughter that her value comes from who she is in Christ, rather than from how she looks. 

Help her to understand that the images of women in the media are usually unrealistic.

Don’t buy your children clothes that have sexual connotations or slogans. If you don't like a TV show, CD, video, pair of jeans, or doll, say why. A conversation with your child will be more effective than simply saying, “No, you can’t buy it, or watch it.”

Support campaigns, companies, and products that promote positive images of girls.

Complain to manufacturers, advertisers, television and movie producers, and retail stores when products sexualise girls.

Bring Back Biblical Girlhood
Parents must teach boys to value girls as friends and sisters in Christ, rather than as sexual objects.

Remember, your children will copy the way you dress and what you watch. What kind of an example are you setting for your children?

Women need real protection and respect. Let’s bring back Biblical girlhood. Please join Africa Christian Action in praying and working for true justice, righteousness and truth in Africa.

“Who will rise up for Me against the wicked? Who will take a stand for Me against evildoers?” Psalm 94:16

HOW ADVERTISERS TARGET TEENS
The constant stream of hyper-sexualized imagery and content that boys and girls are subjected to daily desensitizes their God-given conscience, encourages selfishness and lust, and reshapes their sexual desires and actions in immoral, risky and even violent ways.

Maggie Hamilton, in an article “Groomed to Consume Porn: How Sexualized Marketing Targets Children” (published in the book: Big Porn Inc: Exposing the Harms of the Global Pornography Industry, edited by Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray, 2011), summarizes how advertisers target teens:

  • The methods corporations use are the very same techniques used by sexual predators to hone in on unsuspecting kids, as they meticulously groom them for their own ends.
  • Like the sexual predator, corporations market their products to young people by pretending to be their friend.
  • They offer gifts and incentives.
  • They flatter them and talk in their own language.
  • They assure kids that they ‘understand’ them.
  • They deliberately use sexualised content because they know how irresistible sexual material can be.
  • They work to separate a child victim from his/her parents, leaving them isolated and vulnerable.
  • Media critic, Professor Mark Crispin Miller puts it this way: “The official advertising worldview is that your parents are creeps, teachers are nerds and idiots, authority figures are laughable, nobody can really understand kids except the corporate sponsor.”

Sexualized content is so prevalent among manufacturers of teen products, that most of us scarcely give it a thought. What would have been inconceivable a decade ago, has very quickly become an integral part of teenagers’ lives. When a child grows up in a toxic sexual atmosphere, accessing porn seems a natural progression.

"Do not be afraid of them... Remember the Lord, Who is great and awesome, and fight for your… daughters, your wives and your homes." Nehemiah 4:14

The above article is adapted from an Appendix in Porndemic: How the Pornography Plague Affects You and What You Can Do About It by Taryn Hodgson. 

This is a winnable war. What is the Biblical antidote to the porndemic? And what can you do to protect yourself and your family? How can we take back the culture from the pimps and pornographers? Africa Christian Action’s new book Porndemic will equip you, with the help of God, to begin to transform your community.

Now Available
This 256-page book (with 22 info-graphics and 23 pro-family action pictures) is available for R85. Contact 021 -689 4481 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to order.

 Available to Speak at Schools and Churches
Taryn is available to speak at schools and churches on the above article: How the Media is Sexualising Your Children, Protect Your Family From Porn or Fight the New Drug.

 

Taryn Hodgson
Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632 Claremont 7735
Cape Town 
South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481 
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Web: http://www.christianaction.org.za/

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