Being Female: The Continuum of Sexualization by Jennifer K. Wesely

By Jennifer K. Wesely

It's always acknowledged that intercourse sells, yet who will pay the cost? Jennifer Wesely probes the resources and effects of sexualization in women and girls s lives. delivering new insights into a permanent challenge, she records the more and more pervasive and robust nature of raunch tradition and demonstrates how women are being sexualized in ways in which are extra severe and harmful than ever earlier than.

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For example, Olfman (2009) notes that “the children who are most harmed by a sexualized culture are those who are already at risk because they are growing up with poverty or abuse” (p. 2). Indeed, poverty and socioeconomic class influence the ways in which girls’ experiences fall along the continuum of sexualization. “Fewer alternatives and opportunities and thinner decisional avenues are available to poor girls than to their more affluent counterparts” (Schaffner 2006, p. 59). Vulnerability to predatory men, less access to legal protection, and limited resources are all ways in which poverty can affect outcomes for girls (Schaffner 2006).

If you process this information through the average adolescent mental computer, you end up with a printout that reads something like this: Girls have to be hot. Girls who aren’t hot probably need breast implants. Once a girl is hot, she should be as close to naked as possible all the time. Guys should like it. Don’t have sex. (Levy 2005, pp. 157–158) Of course, despite the latter part of this mixed-up message, adolescent girls are having sex. The pornified sexual look is a performance that garners attention, so advancing this performance into sexualized behavior will also continue to reward girls in the ways that they have been socialized to value themselves.

Deprived of these types of power in a phallocentric society, Irigaray (1985a) noted that women engage the market in one of the few ways to which they have access: by using the sexualized body as a commodity or item of exchange. qxd:Brasfield 11/4/11 2:39 PM Page 19 Gender Socialization in Today’s Culture 19 it does not elevate women’s status to equal competitors in a market that exploits them: Women today are still held captive by images that ultimately tell lies about women. The biggest lie is that conforming to this hypersexualized image will give women real power in the world, since in a porn culture, our power rests, we are told, not in our ability to shape the institutions that determine our life chances but in having a hot body that men desire and women envy.

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