Tag Archives: Sexualization of Children

Stanford University study: Sexualization of women in the tech world

21 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART:    Eliana Dockterman reported in the Time article, How Using Sexy Female Avatars in Video Games Changes Women:

It’s not “just a game.”

The debate over whether we should worry about little boys playing violent video games never seems to die down. But maybe we should be fretting just as much about little girls playing those same games. Women who used sexy avatars to represent themselves in video games were more likely to objectify themselves in real life. Not only that, they were more likely to accept what’s called rape myth — i.e., the idea that a woman is in some way to blame for her rape — according to a Stanford study published on Oct. 11 in Computers and Human Behavior.

We’ve known for a long time that the oversexualization of women has a negative impact on the female psyche: one experiment asked women to try on either a bikini or a sweater; those who tried on a bikini reported feeling shame about their bodies and performed more poorly on a math test than their sweater-wearing counterparts. And studies have shown that sexualization of women in the media can negatively impact young girls’ body image. It’s for that very reason that moms worry about their daughters watching the Video Music Awards.

But playing Lara Croft — the wasp-waisted, impossibly large-breasted protagonist in the Tomb Raider video-game series who fights bad guys in an ever-so-practical tight tank top and short shorts — might be worse than watching Miley Cyrus twerking in a bikini. Researchers have demonstrated that embodying characters in virtual worlds has a stronger effect on gamers than just passively watching a character; game play can influence off-line beliefs, attitudes and action thanks to a phenomenon called the Proteus effect in which an individual’s behavior conforms to their digital identity.

And if your avatar resembles you (i.e., you’re playing with a dopplegänger), the game can make an even greater impression. Previous studies have shown playing with a dopplegänger can lead the user to replicate the dopplegänger’s eating patterns, experience physiological arousal or prefer a brand of product endorsed by the dopplegänger. Given that connection, this new study looked at whether embodying sexualized female avatars online changed women’s behavior.

The Stanford researchers asked 86 women ages 18 to 40 to play using either a sexualized (sexily dressed) avatar or a nonsexualized (conservatively dressed) avatar. Then, researchers designed some of those avatars to look like the player embodying them.

Those women who played using sexualized avatars who looked like them were more accepting of the rape myth, according to the study. After playing the game, women responded to many questions with answers along a five-point scale (from “strongly disagree” to “strongly agree”), including, “In the majority or rapes, the victim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation.” Those who played sexy avatars who looked like themselves were more likely to answer “agree” or “strongly agree” than those women who had nonsexy avatars who did not look like them.

Participants were also asked to freewrite their thoughts after the study. Those with sexualized avatars were more likely to self-objectify in their essays after play.
http://healthland.time.com/2013/10/14/how-using-sexy-female-avatars-in-video-games-changes-women/#ixzz2iO2AozzM

Here is the citation for the study:

Computers in Human Behavior The embodiment of sexualized virtual selves: The Proteus effect

and experiences of self-objectification via avatars

Jesse Fox⇑

, Jeremy N. Bailenson1

, Liz Tricase 2

Department of Communication, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94040, USA

http://vhil.stanford.edu/pubs/2013/fox-chb-sexualized-virtual-selves.pdf

Moi wrote in Sexualization of girls: A generation looking much too old for their maturity level:

Just ride the bus, go to the mall or just walk down a city street and one will encounter young girls who look like they are ten going on thirty. What’s going on with that? Moi wrote about the sexualization of girls in Study: Girls as young as six think of themselves as sex objects:

In Children too sexy for their years, moi said:

Maybe, because some parents may not know what is age appropriate for their attire, they haven’t got a clue about what is appropriate for children. There is nothing sadder than a 40 something, 50 something trying to look like they are twenty. What wasn’t sagging when you are 20, is more than likely than not, sagging now.

Kristen Russell Dobson, the managing editor of Parent Map, has a great article in Parent Map. In Are Girls Acting Sexy Too Young?  

http://www.parentmap.com/article/are-girls-acting-sexy-too-young

The culture seems to be sexualizing children at an ever younger age and it becomes more difficult for parents and guardians to allow children to just remain, well children, for a bit longer. Still, parents and guardians must do their part to make sure children are in safe and secure environments. A pole dancing fourth grader is simply unacceptable.

Moi loves fashion and adores seeing adult looks on adults. Many 20 and 30 somethings prefer what I would charitably call the “slut chic” look. This look is questionable fashion taste, in my opinion, but at least the look involves questionable taste on the part of adults as to how they present themselves to the public. http://drwilda.wordpress.com/2011/11/11/children-too-sexy-for-their-years/

http://drwilda.com/tag/study-girls-as-young-as-6-are-thinking-of-selves-as-sex-objects/

Steve Biddulph wrote in the Daily Mail article, The corruption of a generation: In a major Mail series, a renowned psychologist argues that our daughters are facing an unprecedented crisis… sexualisiation from primary school age:

Over the past few years, I’ve discussed the issue of modern girlhood with numerous friends and colleagues, and everyone has observed the same phenomenon: girls are simply growing up too fast.

To put it bluntly, our 18 is their 14. Our 14 is their 10. Never before has girlhood been under such a sustained assault — from ads, alcohol marketing, girls’ magazines, sexually explicit TV programmes and the hard pornography that’s regularly accessed in so many teenagers’ bedrooms.

The result is that many girls effectively lose four years of crucial development, which may take years in therapy to retrieve. Meanwhile, these girls are filling our mental clinics, police stations and hospitals in unprecedented numbers. Not only that, but having sex with lots of different boys is not good for their bodies. Levels of sexual infections are soaring — including chlamydia, which may affect their fertility.

Less well-known is the fact that the rapid surge in the numbers of girls who perform oral sex is leading to a far greater incidence of mouth and throat cancers.

So why are so many girls succumbing to sexual pressures? And what can we, as parents, do to protect our daughters from the very real perils of our modern world?

The first thing to be said is that the current generation is, at least in one unenviable sense, utterly unique: it’s the first to grow up exposed to hard-core pornography.

Sexting: Girls as young as ten years old are now sending sexual images of themselves on their phones (picture posed by models)

In a recent survey, 53 per cent of girls under 13 reported that they had watched or seen porn. By the age of 16, that figure rose to 97 per cent.

‘My child wouldn’t go looking for porn,’ you may say. But your child doesn’t have to be looking: porn will find them….

SOME TOP TIPS ON HOW TO KEEP YOUR DAUGHTERS SAFE

  • Remove all digital media from your daughter’s bedroom, including the TV.  Have a rule that all members of the family charge and leave their phones in the kitchen each night.

  • Make sure she’s using the maximum privacy settings online. Some parents make it a condition that for a child to have an account on social media, she must have you as a ‘friend’.

  • Know the rules. Children aren’t supposed to have a Facebook account until they’re 13. They may feel left out, but you need to be firm.

  • Either download or have devices installed on your home computers that filter out porn. Ask your daughter to use her computer only in the kitchen, study or living room.

  • Set limits on time allowed for social networking.

  • Keep the channels of communication open, so that if your daughter sees something online which distresses her, she won’t be ashamed to tell you about it. If you suspect that your daughter is visiting sites that are harmful, raise it with her. Intervene.

  • Know the law. If an 18-year-old posts sexualised images of younger people, he or she is at risk of criminal charges.

  • Never snoop around in your daughter’s bedroom — but do check her phone if you suspect she’s being sent sexual texts or images. Sexting is public behaviour, because anyone can view images or texts and pass them on. And parents have a better understanding of the possible consequences.  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2264781/Corrupting-generation-In-new-major-Mail-series-renowned-psychologist-Steve-Biddulph-argues-daughters-facing-unprecedented-crisis.html#ixzz2IRmlHbbz

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/sexualization-of-girls-a-generation-looking-much-too-old-for-their-maturity-level/

Here is the press release from Stanford about the study;

Stanford Report, October 10, 2013

Sexualized avatars affect the real world, Stanford researchers find

A Stanford study shows that after women wear sexualized avatars in a virtual reality world, they feel objectified and are more likely to accept rape myths in the real world. The research could have implications for the role of female characters in video games.

BY CYNTHIA MCKELVEY

Researchers at Stanford’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab are delving into questions posed by sexualized depictions of women in video games.

Specifically, do female players who use provocatively dressed avatars begin to see themselves more as objects and less as human beings? Jeremy Bailenson, the director of the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford, has found a way to use virtual reality to answer that question.

This and other issues take on real-world significance as the numbers of female video game players rise despite the industry’s general lack of relatable female characters and as  notoriously violent video games (such as the popular Rockstar Games series, Grand Theft Auto V) continue their rise in popularity.

“We often talk about video game violence and how it affects people who play violent video games,” Bailenson said. “I think it’s equally important to think about sexualization.”

Bailenson is particularly interested in the Proteus Effect: how the experience of acting in a virtual body, known as an avatar, changes people’s behavior in both the virtual and real worlds. For example, when someone wears an avatar that is taller than his actual self, he will act more confidently. People who see the effects of exercise on their bodies in the virtual world will exercise more in the real world.

Proteus Effect and sexualization

 Bailenson and co-author Jesse Fox published a research paper in the journal Computers in Human Behavior that examined how becoming a sexualized avatar affected women’s perceptions of themselves. Participants donned helmets that blocked out the real world, immersing them in a virtual world of 3-D sight and sound. Motion sensors on their wrists and ankles allowed for the lab’s many infrared cameras to record their motions as they moved identically in both worlds.

Once in the new world, each participant looked in a virtual mirror and saw herself or another woman, dressed provocatively or conservatively. The avatar’s movements in the mirror perfectly copied the participant’s actual physical movements, allowing her to truly feel as if she occupied that body.

The researchers then introduced a male accomplice into the virtual world to talk to the participant. What seemed like a normal, get-to-know-you conversation was actually an assessment of how much the women viewed themselves as objects. Women “wearing” the sexualized avatars bearing their likenesses talked about their bodies, hair and dress more than women in the other avatars, suggesting that they were thinking of themselves more as objects than as people.

After their time in the virtual world, the participants filled out a questionnaire rating how much they agreed with various statements. Bailenson and Fox folded rape myths such as “in the majority of rapes, the victim is promiscuous or has a bad reputation” into the questionnaire. Participants rated how much they agreed or disagreed with the statements.

The participants who had worn the sexualized avatars tended to agree with rape myths more than the women who had worn the non-sexualized avatars. Women in sexualized avatars whose faces resembled their own agreed with the myths more than anyone else in the study.

Becoming the protagonist

 The Entertainment Software Association estimates that across mobile, PC and console platforms, 45 percent of American gamers are female. But few game titles feature female protagonists. In many popular games in this fast-growing industry, female characters are in the minority; more often than not, they are sexualized.

Many female gamers assert that gaming culture is not welcoming to women. The websitenotinthekitchenanymore.com collects user-submitted accounts of sexual harassment women experience in online platforms such as Xbox Live. When women critique sexism in games and gamer culture, they are often dismissed or even bullied. Pop-culture critic Anita Sarkeesian faced a barrage of cyber-bullying – including threats of rape and death – for announcing a project examining common tropes of female characters in video games.

Some gamers maintain that virtual worlds and the real world remain mutually exclusive, but the research by Bailenson and Fox suggests differently. “It changes the way you think about yourself online and offline,” Bailenson said. “It used to be passive and you watched the characters. You now enter the media and become the protagonist. You become the characters.”

Cynthia McKelvey is an intern at the Stanford News Service

Media Contact

Dan Stober, Stanford News Service: (650) 721-6965, dstober@stanford.edu

Dr. Wilda has been just saying for quite a while.

Resources

Popwatch’s Miley Cyrus Pole Dance Video

http://popwatch.ew.com/2009/08/10/miley-cyrus-pole-dancing-at-the-teen-choice-awards-rather-unfortunate-yes/

Baby Center Blog Comments About Miley Cyrus Pole Dance

http://blogs.babycenter.com/celebrities/billy-ray-cyrus-defends-mileys-artistic-pole-dancing/

The Sexualization of Children

http://www.tellinitlikeitis.net/2009/03/the-sexualization-of-children-and-adolescents-epidemic.html

Related:

Let’s speak the truth: Values and character training are needed in schools

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/lets-speak-the-truth-values-and-character-training-are-needed-in-schools/

Do ‘grown-ups’ have to be reminded to keep their clothes on in public? Apparently so

https://drwildaoldfart.wordpress.com/2013/02/09/do-grown-ups-have-to-be-reminded-to-keep-their-clothes-on-in-public-apparently-so/

Where information leads to Hope. ©Dr. Wilda.com

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Dr. Wilda Reviews ©

http://drwildareviews.wordpress.com/

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California high school: The ‘fantasy slut league’

25 Oct

Here’s today’s COMMENT FROM AN OLD FART: Moi’s attention was caught by Bryan Toporek’s Education Week article about a “fantasy slut league.” It was one of those “say, what” moments. Many women struggle with feelings of inadequacy, but to to volunteer to be used, as the kids say, as someone’s bitch? Well, what’s going on? Alison Fitch has a great article at Self Esteem4 Women. Com, Feeling Worthless:

No matter how tough your childhood, no matter how rotten your luck, you can CHOOSE to enrich the world every day simply by the way you interact with others, by the way you make caring decisions, and by the way you feel about yourself.

If you’re feeling worthless right now, then I’d like to ask you a question. What proactive steps have you been taking recently to overcome those feelings? Many, many women – when I put this question to them – answer with something along the lines of “um, well, nothing really because I feel stuck in a rut”.

Those women, all of them, are certainly not happy that they feel like that. But feeling like that is a habit that has become – almost paradoxically – a source of comfort to them. Why? For one of two reasons:

  1. Feeling worthless is a safe option because it reduces the amount of pain you suffer when things go wrong. If you already know that you’re no good and that no one will fall in love with you, or give you a job, or even care enough to listen to you, then when a rejection wings its way towards you – which it certainly will because it happens to all of us – then you’re better prepared than most. You can say: “Ah ha, you can’t ruin my life because I already knew this was going to happen; I already knew that you didn’t really love me/want me/value me!”
  2. Feeling worthless is an easy option; if you’re worthless there’s no need to try to do well and succeed in the things that matter to you because there is simply no point. Also, if you act as if your opinions and your desires are all worthless then people leave you alone. If you say you have no remarkable skills or talents then there is no need to apply them. If you say that you are a useless, hopeless nobody then people will expect far less from you. And just maybe you could get lots of sympathy and perhaps even another person (on a white horse in shining armour) coming to your rescue to sort your life out for you.

deep down, all of us really WANT to feel valued

But, the harsh truth is, we will feel valued only if we are willing to contribute something to the world around us. And whether we contribute anything or not is a choice. OUR choice. http://www.selfesteem4women.com/public_articles/worthless.htm

Obviously, the young women drafted into the “fantasy slut league” felt pretty worthless before they were drafted.

One of the hallmarks of a generation or a cohort are attitudes which were formed by the period of time in which the generation or cohort existed. Perhaps, the best capsule to explain the attitude differences between the early days of the women’s movement and the sex is one way to climb the ladder of success ethos of the Sex in the City crowd is in the Dolly Parton movie, 9 to 5 which was released in 1980. It is interesting to read the NOW 1966 Statement of Purpose which states principles such as:

WE BELIEVE that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy — with the knowledge that such education is the key to effective participation in today’s economy and that, for a girl as for a boy, education can only be serious where there is expectation that it will be used in society. We believe that American educators are capable of devising means of imparting such expectations to girl students. Moreover, we consider the decline in the proportion of women receiving higher and professional education to be evidence of discrimination. This discrimination may take the form of quotas against the admission of women to colleges, and professional schools; lack of encouragement by parents, counselors and educators; denial of loans or fellowships; or the traditional or arbitrary procedures in graduate and professional training geared in terms of men, which inadvertently discriminate against women. We believe that the same serious attention must be given to high school dropouts who are girls as to boys.

The naive little idea which NOW was enunciating at the time that was that women should get educated and gain experience so that they would be qualified on their merits for promotion. Women’s ENews has an article about the casting couch syndrome which the movie 9 to 5 highlighted and the early women’s movement fought so hard to overcome.

In the article Sexual Harassment  Sandra Kobrin correctly takes the likes of Polanski and Letterman to task.

But, is there to be no questioning of the behavior of a generation of young women fed the pablum of Candace Bushnell of Sex and the City fame. To quote Ms. Bushnell:

. . . She was obsessed with clothes and status, how she never gave a thought to being responsible for her own actions, or even what she might do for anyone else-making her the ultimate example of all that was wrong and misguided about young women today.”

Candace Bushnell (One Fifth Avenue)

One wonders if young women taking the trip through whoredom have  read that quote? Brett Michael Dykes writes at the Yahoo Blog about The Women of the David Letterman Scandal, all of whom seem to be well educated with the possibility of traveling a number of paths which did not have to include the casting couch.

Bryan Toporek reports in the Education Week article, Calif. School Responds to Student-Athlete ‘Fantasy Slut League’:

Piedmont Principal Rich Kitchens sent a letter to parents on Friday, Oct. 19, which was posted on Piedmont Patch, spelling out details about the student-athletes’ sordid fantasy league and explaining why no one has been punished.

According to the letter, over the past 5-6 years a group of varsity male student-athletes “drafted” females in their school and earned “points” for engaging in certain sexual activities with said females.

The principal’s letter didn’t go into specifics about what activities earned points, but in fantasy football, for instance, points are generally awarded for receptions, yards gained, and touchdowns. Use your imagination to fill in the rest.

Most of the females didn’t know of their involvement in the league, the letter alleges, although some were aware of their participation.

Students of both genders allegedly felt pressure to participate, with older students allegedly providing alcohol for younger students at times “to impair judgment/control.”

The school hasn’t punished the student-athletes involved, however, because the activity was judged to be off-campus, and thus not subject to school discipline.

“At this point, because we do not have specifics about participants or victims, our focus is on education and understanding moving forward, not discipline for past activities,” Kitchens wrote.

How will the school move forward? According to the letter, Kitchens will be instituting meetings at the beginning of each sports season “to address issues of sportsmanship, conduct, and integrity.” The school’s drama teacher is developing an assembly to address the issue as well.

“We’ve got a few irons in the fire from the school’s point of view, but my whole impetus for sending out the letter was to communicate with parents some facts about what’s going on,” he later said to the Los Angeles Times.

Kitchens’ letter also says that current varsity student-athletes have also pledged that the “fantasy slut league” will not be continued, moving forward.

A word of advice to any student-athletes looking to start their own imitation fantasy slut league: Don’t do it. Nothing good can come of it.

As technology only becomes more ubiquitous and linked, and Google searches only grow more important in terms of college and job applications, the last thing you need is a Google search on your name to return “founder of _____ school’s fantasy slut league” as the first result. http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/schooled_in_sports/2012/10/calif_school_responds_to_fantasy_slut_league_for_student-athletes.html

Stephen Perrine has a good article, How To Bimbo Proof Your Daughter  which is also good advice for sons.  The point is parents must engage their children and offer them alternatives to the culture which is trying to turn children into Snooki, Miley, Lindsey, and Paris clones. Remember that education which includes not only the academic, but positive role models is a partnership between the student, parent(s) or guardian(s), teacher(s), and school. All parties must be involved and engaged.

The American Psychological Association has written a report Sexualization of Girls and the Executive Summary contains the following definition:

There 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. The fourth condition (the inappropriate imposition of sexuality) is especially relevant to children. Anyone (girls, boys, men, women) can be sexualized. But when children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed upon them rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualization by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.        http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx

This society is setting up women and girls to make some personally destructive choices which have nothing to do with a liberating and healthy sexuality. Much of the culture is simply aimed at demeaning and trivializing women. Children of both sexes need to be urged toward education, training, and life experiences which grow them as responsible and caring people. They should be urged to make choices which benefit them and the society in which they live. Unfortunately, there are some who enter the world of whoredom because they are forced. There is a lot of information about human trafficking No one in their right mind would honestly advocate that someone they care about was “in the life” or “on the game.” But if young women are going to voluntarily take the road of whoredom, then you need to sell yourselves for Goldman Sachs type $$$$$$$$$$. That is what Miley, Britney, Janet and the other pop tarts have done. Short of that, you might as well be walking the streets looking for a really nice car that isn’t leased so that you can become the next “Pretty Woman.

Related:

Bimbos, himbos, and role models                                        http://drwilda.com/2011/11/28/bimbos-himbos-and-role-models/

Children too sexy for their years                                         http://drwilda.com/2011/11/11/children-too-sexy-for-their-years/

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