Colorado College Psychology professor and member of the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, Tomi-Ann Roberts explores the issue of the sexualization of girls and women in our society.
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You can read the report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls by clicking HERE.


10 Responses to microLECTURE: The Sexualization of Girls

  1. Mary says:

    I like Tomi-Ann’s perspective on this and I agree. Especially I would like to see more humor. Girls know they are being ‘led’ in fashion, TV and by marketing. But they do buy into it. Girls who don’t fit the mold are the ones in real danger – discarding their own value. They want to ‘belong’, and all this external input makes the community seem so much larger and populated by many more fashionable girls than it is in reality.
    Another thing that has to be looked at is the “successful date”. Used to be measured by baseball – first base, etc. Now if it’s not a home run on the first date, it is not a “good” relationship. If there is no kissing on the first date, there was no chemistry. I don’t understand how this standard changed, or how to modify the new standard.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Wonderful lecture! Very well produced as well. I hope this gets a lot of views.

  3. Nancy Wilsted says:

    Once upon time there was such a thing as a tomboy. She was a girl who was dirtier and more scraped-up than most girls. She made her way high up into the limbs of trees. She got sweaty. She wore trousers and shirts that were worn, torn,and shapeless. No matter the gender of her opponent, she won the footrace, or she almost won. She was the first chair drummer in the junior high band and she beat the living tar out of those drums. The boy drummers were jealous. A tomboy was not necessarily a pre-lesbian, although she might be. A tomboy lived in and through her body, which she knew to be powerful. Then later, the body might change, but not the power.

  4. Andrew says:

    Ms Roberts, in my opinion, is not seeing the forest for the trees. Sexualisation is a culture-wide phenomenon and not a ‘girl-only’ or ‘boy-only’ one. Further it’s about two simple issues, first that the only concrete support for human existence is in sex/procreation. That is, to create and support future generations. One can philosophise any number of ‘reasons’ but the only one with any concrete evidence or support is continuation of the species in perpetuity. Based upon that simple biological truth sexualisation is always going to be a major part of culture and how it’s perceived and addressed has changed throughout history and will continue to change as lifestyles and cultures evolve, which leads to the second reason and that is personal comfort. Men’s lives have always been competitive and generally recognised as such. Women’s lives have ALSO always been competitive but at least for the past sixty years or so and likely the past couple hundred years women have been portrayed as passive and conciliatory when among themselves in their own circles they’ve been every bit as competitive as men could possibly imagine within what was ‘given’ them by the societies that they’ve lived in. The comfort I’m writing to is that everyone wants the feeling of ‘fitting in’ and long before media made such standards widespread there has always been within cultures expectations and those that did not meet expectations hid in the shadows of their culture while those that exemplified such expectations, at least in public, were pointed to by the rest as examples to be striven for. “The perceived Tao is never the true Tao”, and so these illusions have been exploited throughout human history.
    Over the past 100 years there have been more and more radical changes to our lifestyle than during the entire rest of human history COMBINED. Nearly everything we think of as commonplace of today’s modern life was either invented or at least made ubiquitous in the past century. Cultures cannot cope with that pace of change and the past three generations or so are the first ones to truly envision such a pace of lifestyle and the changes that it might entail. We are in the process of redefining our lives and our cultures and it’s only normal and natural that sexuality be a major part of that as it has throughout human existence. Is it ‘wrong’ to expect certain looks and behaviours of the opposite sex? Whether it’s wrong or not it has always been done on a cultural level. It is my opinion that sexuality is simply one part of a person’s personal array of ‘power’ to exchange. Some women are expert at exploiting such cultural expectations and some men are as well. Most of us are hopelessly inept at it just as each individual has other strengths and weaknesses, the difference is we’re all acutely aware of our sexual prowess or lack thereof whereas any other area of endeavour tends to be glossed over to a much higher degree.
    It is my opinion that girls are not the victims that they were sixty years ago in the heyday of the Donna Reed purview, but neither are men victims of “a world turned upside-down” where women no longer “know their place”, but the truth is in the middle: we’re experiencing tremendous cultural change and the end won’t be in sight for at least a couple more generations and given history, perhaps never.

  5. Phoebe Lostroh, Ph.D. says:

    Thanks for sharing your excellent scholarship with us, Dr. Roberts!

    As a geneticist myself, I can’t help but respond to one of the previous posts. Contemporary research on genetics, evolution, and physiology contradicts old tired research regarding the permanence of certain stereotyped sexual and/or gendered behaviors. It is increasingly clear that the hallmark of human biology — especially behavioral biology — is flexibility and adaptability. That is to say, our genes do not inevitably lead to manly men and girly girls. We can choose to build a society that values diversity over conformity, and that creates equal opportunities that make available a full range of ethically responsible human behaviors for all people. What an exciting opportunity!
    Thanks again for sharing your scholarship with us, Dr. Roberts.

  6. Amanda says:

    Andrew’s comment naturalizes and legitimates sexual and gender inequality by locating this kind of sexualization as a biological imperative. Actually, a review of cultures around the world and even western cultures throughout history shows that gender roles and relations have differed markedly, that the relationship between sexuality and power has varied, and that we do not need to be content with ways of sexualizing people that disempower some of them. Indeed, both the argument for biological necessity and the idea that “it’s all changing and it’s better than it was” miss the real, concrete ways in which girls and women are still hurt today by the practices Dr. Roberts describes. It’s easy to get abstract and find many excuses for the necessity of social inequality, but on a day to day basis such legitimation just hurts girls and women – and limits the lives of boys and men by forcing them into their own circumscribed roles, even if those roles may afford them more social power.

  7. […] via Radio Colorado College comes this amazing interview with Professor Tomi-Ann Roberts, professor of psychology and member of the APA Taskforce on the Sexualization of Girls. […]

  8. […] taken from a long and rambling comment thread elsewhere on this blog.  See also the comments here.) Advertisement GA_googleAddAttr("AdOpt", "1"); GA_googleAddAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

  9. Helen says:

    The video appears to be blocked because of a copyright issue. KRCC folks, please figure out how to get the video up again. It looks really cool.

  10. Craig Richardson says:

    Thanks for the heads-up Helen, we weren’t notified that the video had been blocked for a possible copyright infringement. We’ve filed a dispute with youtube to get the video reinstated. In the meantime, the condensed version is still viewable. Thanks!


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