God’s timing is always perfect. I was reminded of this during a recent radio interview I was conducting with Jen Giroux of Human Life International. HLI has been joining with other pro-life organizations in speaking out on the harmful emotional, spiritual, and especially physical side effects of the birth control pill. The pill marked 50 years on the market last May. HLI is doing what it can to educate the public on the connection not only between the pill and increased cancer risks but also the connection between contraception and the overall objectification of women.
It just so happened (here is where the Lord’s timing comes in) that during the interview, my producer and I received a news bulletin via e-mail on a startling report just issued by the Parents TV Council. As I quickly glanced at the headline and read the lead paragraphs, I felt an affirmation; a Holy Spirit “you go girls” encouraging me and my guest to continue exposing the impact our over sexualized culture is having on all of us, especially young women.
Tinsel Town’s New Target: a study of Teen Female Sexualization on Primetime TV would make any parent of a teenage daughter want to run into the house and throw out the television sets. The report is based on content analysis of the most popular primetime broadcast shows viewed by 12 to 17 year olds during the 2009-2010 TV seasons. In addition to finding that underage female characters are shown in an increased number of sexual scenes the PTC also found:
- The vast majority (86%) of all the sexualized female characters depicted were high school aged.
- 98% of the sexual incidents involving underage female characters occurred outside of any form of a committed relationship.
- 73% of the underage sexualized incidents were presented in a humorous manner or as a punch line to a joke.
“The results from this report show Tinsletown’s eagerness to not only objectify and fetishize young girls but to sexualize them in such a way that real teens are led to believe that their sole value from their sexuality. The report is less about the shocking numbers that detail the sickness of early sexualization in our entertainment culture and more about the generation of young girls who are being told how society expects them to behave,” stated Parents TV Council President Tim Winters.
This study reminds me an awful lot of another important report released by the American Psychological Association nearly four years ago. The APA’s Sexualization of Girls also took an in-depth look at the sexualization of girls through the media. The APA showed how the proliferation of sexualized images of young women in all advertising, media, and merchandising are extremely harmful to a girl’s self esteem as well as healthy development.
I don’t know how many reports from how many different sources we need before we start taking the issue of media awareness, especially in the home, more seriously. I wish I could say that I see a big improvement among families out there, especially Catholic families, but I don’t. One good example of this still sorry state of affairs was an extremely frustrating conversation I had with a Mom following my talk at a Catholic women’s conference. I had just concluded a presentation on the impact of media on women complete with a boat load of statistics from top research organizations. Her comments had me biting my tongue as at first I wanted to ask her if she had fallen asleep or left the room during my talk. I also had to resist the urge to say, (well yell is more like it); “Lady, what are you thinking?” The reason for my outrage was her question wondering if I thought it was a good idea to let her teens have their “private time” with cable TV and the Internet downstairs without any supervision or restrictions and several times a week no less!
I’m thankful for the little nudges from God to keep on keeping on with efforts to raise awareness and understanding regarding media. I guess the Lord is trying to tell me that I won’t be out of work any time soon.