Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls

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About Hugo Schwyzer

Hugo Schwyzer has taught history and gender studies at Pasadena City College since 1993, where he developed the college's first courses on Men and Masculinity and Beauty and Body Image. He serves as co-director of the Perfectly Unperfected Project, a campaign to transform young people's attitudes around body image and fashion. Hugo lives with his wife, daughter, and six chinchillas in Los Angeles. Hugo blogs at his website

Comments

  1. Actually, this video shows that WOMEN advocate and perpetuate the sexualization of minors.. and women are doing all the talking: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=plkeKMTDM9g

    • Sandra- there are plenty of creepy women out there.

      • Obviously you have the mental capacity of a carrot stick if you can’t grasp her point.

        • a carrot stick says:

          She said “here is a video that shows women rewarding princess culture.” That shows that women also participate in this structure, as women receive secondary benefits (i.e. benevolent sexism) when they comply with the culture that says women exist to be looked at.

          That video did not say that men are not at all responsible for the objectification of women at all ages. That video did not prove that all, and only, women are responsible for it. Now, do you have less of a mental capacity than I, a carrot stick?

  2. Exactly; how is it that men are responsible for the inappropriate conclusions that little girls draw? If a girl sees her divorced father checking out a store clerk’s cleavage and she draws the conclusion that her forty year old father likes cleavage, what the hell is that to her? If she feels like she can’t cut it cause she doesn’t have the same cleavage at 7 years old, well, maybe she’s got her wires crossed to begin with. Why would she be thinking about competing with a 30 year old clerk for her father’s attention in the first damn place? Children should know there place. They used to say that children should be seen but not heard. Now someone seems to be saying that in her opinion, childrens thoughts should dictate the actions, thoughts and behaviors of adults. The tyrany of the child is upon us all.

    • Omgawd Harry. You concluded the wrong point. It’s not that the little girl is in competition with the clerk. lol It’s that the little girl “learns” from the father gawking at the cleavage that SHE TOO one day will do as the clerk b/c she “learned” that is what a man wants to see. The father should be explaining to the little girl that the clerk should be “showing her goods to her husband at home”, not to ALL OTHER WOMEN’S HUSBANDS. That is teaching the little girl how she should be when she is a grown woman! Does that make sense??? I hope so. (*.~)

  3. Think about the whole deal behind the strory of “The Princess and the Pea”… The prince has a whole kingdom he is in charge of but he takes the time from his busy schedule to stack a dozen mattresses one on top of the other after having placed a single pea between the mattresses at the lowest rung, at the bottom of the heap; and lo, when the young woman whines, snivels and complains that her nights rest was ruined by some monstrous lump, the prince realizes that he has found his princess… a woman who will bitch about any little thing…

    • reading is fundamental says:

      Hey! Have you ever read the story? She has to “prove” she is princess by how sensitive her skin is, because the Prince’s mother does not believe the Princess when she says she is a Princess. Sounds to me like women are, yet again, made to compete to prove their worth.

      http://childhoodreading.com/?p=5

      • I think you just did a really good job of pointing out how misogynistic and reinforcing of divisive stereotypes that story is, as so many fairy tales (and contemporary movies, sitcoms, etc.) can be.

  4. People used to not pay much attention to children, to childrens thoughts, perceptions, attitudes, comments, etc.,. Are we now being told that we should take a 4 year olds mental constructs into consideration before we look at the shapely calves on that hot young mama? Usually, when someone tries to use morality on me it comes out of their sheer hypocrisy.

    • indeed. why should the feelings or development or brain of anyone else in the world get in the way of Harry getting his rocks off? nothing is more important than Harry and his need to constantly eye-molest every female he deems “hot.” certainly we should structure all of our lives around Harry’s constant, all-day need to smear his eyeballs all over every woman who dare leave the house wearing anything other than a full-body parka.

  5. This is the second time I have referred to your article on my site. Love it! We have an issue in Australia with child beauty pageants being introduced (from the US) in June. There are thousands of us protesting about this and we have organised rallies tomorrow, which will occur in each major city on the steps of parliament.

  6. If anyone is to blame for the sexualization of young girls in terms of how they dress, it’s the parent who buys their clothes, the mother not the father.

  7. Thank you, Mr. Schwyzer, for this article. I bitterly wish my dad understood all of this when I was a younger girl. I am 24 now and still struggling with all the ways his behavior has negatively impacted me, both in terms of romantic relationships and my world outlook in general.

    I want all men to understand that behaving in the way Mr. Schwyzer describes above raises strong fears and anxieties in young girls, setting them up for all kinds of problems later in life.

  8. Krishnabrodhi says:

    Here is an pic that speaks to the very thing this article is talking about….

    http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/08/what-disney-teaches-our-boys-girls-warning-cynical/

  9. I am the founder of Princess Free Zone, Inc.–a site that offers an alternative to princess for little girls and a blog that discusses gender and gender stereotyping. I recently did a blog, co-authored with Lori Day, for the Huffington Post which is called, “Calling All Men”: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lori-day/calling-all-men-join-the-_b_926078.html Men need to be part of the solution to stop the sexualization of little girls–for many reasons, but most of all because we are all part of the human race. This is not about women vs. man–it’s about people helping each other. I applaud Hugo for understanding the complexities of this issue and hope that others will join the fight.

    • Men help by calling women out of their slutty behavior instead of passively letting them act a fool pretending they can do no wrong. Men being men and speaking their mind instead of cowering for fear of appearing “too strong” is how do a better job of raising our daughters. Simple things like telling her to go upstairs and change her clothes or telling mom “my daughter is not wearing that outside this house”.

      The sexualization of little girls took place on feminist watch because their main concern was women being able to do whatever they want in this sphere without being judged. Well, that did not work out too well. I think in the absence of judgment women stopped knowing up from down and many went way too far for no good reason. Young people copied the behavior and now we have this madness. Women don’t need to remove gender stereotypes they need to stop acting slutty. It’s not cute it’s not good, and it’s hurting both sexes.

  10. Mr Schwyzer, please go back to teaching you women’s studies you have noting to offer men or masculinity. Women are responsible for the way they portray themselves, and it’s is mothers who are abusing children in this way. It is women who want the right to portray themselves as sluts. You go girl do as you please. Yes men will look at women who want to flaunt there sexuality, its a power trip for women. So what? Women should then accept the responsibility and consequences and stop blaming men for their denigrating behaviour.

  11. Transhuman says:

    I would think providing young girls with genuine praise, rather than the Princess fallacy, would help them grow as people. In this age of equality why would girls be treated differently to boys?

    • I seems to me that this question ignores the central issue just to make this question viable.
      Sex is about reproduction, not recreation. For millions of years Males have been Conditioned to find the females desirable. In the more natural world any human female over 100 pounds is ready to breed. And ALL the Males are programed to find any such female sexually attractive regardless of the males age. Since he was expected to die at a young age any way. Its absurd to try and apply higher thought processes to this issue. its about reproduction. And your “Values” are not applicable.

      • Lady pants says:

        Why do you keep capitalizing the M in male but not the F in female?

      • “And your “Values” are not applicable.” if you are nothing more than a chimp, that’s all you, bud. leave the more intelligent men out of it. though really, it’s more likely just an excuse you like to use to avoid responsibility for yourself. so you CHOOSE to be a lower primate.

  12. Equal Balance says:

    I believe there are some things that both sides do not understand about this subject or that have possibly been forgotten in all the emotional volcano eruptions.

    The first is that there is an equal balance in responsibility between both men and women to raise the future generations. Both men and women, as teenagers or adults, have a large impact on children, no matter their gender.

    Women should be responsible as mothers and as single women by dressing appropriately. Why do we need to show off our bodies? Are we not always saying that our personalities and other important qualities that make us who we are, are the ones we want men to love us and admire and respect us for? How can we have that if we then show off our bodies in immodest ways? What example are we showing our daughters? Why do we need to treat ourselves as sexual objects as well? We don’t want to send off mixed signals.

    Men should be responsible as fathers and as single men by recognizing that yes, humans are designed to be physically attracted to each other in order to reproduce, but also recognize that women are not objects. We are people also. Of course I am not saying that all men think of women as objects, but some do, just as some women treat men like objects. Men who are married should be loyal to their wives and control their biological sexual urges. If you are married, you already have someone to reproduce and create life with. Men who are single need to not be selfish and think of how sexuality pleases themselves and instead think of the consequences their actions will have on society as a whole.

    Men and women have equal responsibilities to raise both boys and girls. There is no need to point the finger, but to accept that both genders are responsible for the outcome of our society.

    The second matter is that there is nothing wrong with being a princess. The problem comes when people think that being a princess only means one thing: being beautiful. Instead we should all think of what really makes a girl a princess (and a boy a prince). A prince or princess is a son or daughter of a king and a queen. If you believe in a god, that means that all humans are princes and princesses, as God is the King.

    The last thing I wish to say is that we, as people with differing opinions and emotions and personalities, will not always agree. But we as people do not need to put others down for trying to do some good in the world. What is wrong with trying to help people and with writing things that uplift people and encourage better behavior? For myself, I say that Mr. Hugo Schwyzer has written a very great article because of his desire to improve society. Thank you.

  13. Right on. Since becoming the father of my Darling (7yo) Daughter, I’ve been uncomfortable with her being complimented only, or primarily, for her cuteness. I have always heard to never date someone who was called princess by her father. Also, I’m not a fan of what Disney represents. So, putting all this together, we’ve avoided the princess thing.

    However, you raise some well articulated points. Thankyou.

    (I’ve reposted this on my FB, Twitter, and Scoop.it feeds)

    • Gwalter, try Miyazaki films. http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0594503/ They’re popular and have female heroes and characters of all ages, great dialogue and animation. His characters are not sexualized and the female characters are not trying to get male attention but actually have real tasks at hand.

      I highly recommend Spirited Away, which won an Oscar and is #44 on IMDb’s top 250 films as ranked by voters. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0245429/ Really, all Miyazaki films are wonderful for boys and girls, but Spirited Away was my introduction to him. “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “My Neighbor Totoro” are also amazing films. I’ve bought all three for my eight-year-old cousin and she delights in them. Miyazaki does have a film called “Princess Mononoke”, but it’s for older people and the princess in this case is a warrior living alone in the forest with giant wolves.

      Just a suggestion, if you are looking for animated films just as great or better than Disney in terms of quality, but with strong female characters and non-princess storylines. Disney has introduced them to America by re-animating them so they are not “dubbed” English voiceovers, but in terms of storylines Disney managed to not change anything in terms of dialogue or story, which likely would have tainted the films if you ask me.

    • Thought you might be interested in this page; Gender Neutral Parenting
      http://www.facebook.com/pages/Gender-Neutral-Parenting/302740229762397
      I just posted this article there :)

  14. It seems to me that a lot of female sexuality is based on being desired. True, female sexuality is much more nuanced and dynamic than that, but being desireable is a large part of it. Women may put on revealing clothes to feel “sexy”. Revealing clothes not on a body is not sexy. Revealing clothes are sexy because they are on a person presenting themselves as being desireable in some way. Is this bad? No, it is beautiful, ritualistic, and sexy.

    The other side of this coin is that men often respond to desiring, whether it be because of lots of skin, the chase, etc. Romance and sex are a complex dance. Men are responding to female sexuality as much as they are responding to male sexuality. Is this bad? Of course not, this is life. Repressing male sexuality would therefore undermine female sexuality, and vice-versa.

    We ought to deal with children like they are children. We don’t need to repress grownup urges and behavior in order to raise good kids. Kids are not adults and should not be treated that way. But kids learn to be adults by emulating adults. We need to allow this learning process to occur, but very slowly and gradually as they age.

    • I think it’s troubling when some young women/girls about 15 or so end up with an adult body, wear makeup and clothing the same as adults (makeup makes them look older) and you end up with men seeing an 18+ year old woman whereas she’s really 15. Male sexuality is being triggered by their looks which is pretty normal but some pass for a lot older, I knew plenty of girls that age getting into clubs in this country (which is illegal and the bouncer can get into shit for). Some of these girls/women/whatever the appropriate term is are projecting their sexuality quite heavily in their dress sense, their behavior, they’re trying to grow up too quick. Hell in this country teenage girls are the biggest drinkers of all people and binge drink like crazy. I heard of plenty of underage girls and boys getting with people in their 20′s when I was at school which makes me worry even more.

      How do you deal with that situation? It’s at the point where if you think she is under 25 you should card her yourself before pursuing a relationship, I’ve seen plenty of people get confused at a person’s age when they’re well developed and dressed to the nines. I was even offered alcohol at 14 due to my height n size, I looked like an adult I guess. I’ve seen plenty of guys be attracted to these women thinking they’re 18-20′s and then the horror on their face when they realize their true age. Looks like an adult, acts like an adult, but isn’t an adult.

      What’s worse is that guys are meeting them at venues which are 18+ entry, somehow the minors are getting in and no one’s the wiser. Some go home with the guys and it’s statutory rape meanwhile the guy is under the impression she’s legal and fully able to consent. A case like that has hit the courts in Australia however due to the defendants honest belief she was of legal age the case was dismissed. It’s stuff like that which makes me tell everyone to check the age of who you’re with.

      What do you do when children act like adults and succeed at it? Can parents stop them wearing the clothing, makeup, etc? Can’t lock them in their room due to child abuse laws afaik, I’m not sure how parents can deal with teenagers especially apart from hope their threats of taking privileges away. I think it’s a pretty fucking sad culture we live in with people trying to grow up so quick. Luckily I wasn’t really into drinking so I didn’t go get shitfaced at the pubs/clubs when I was underage, and the new 18+ cards I believe are helping but that doesn’t do much for private parties where there can often be a wide range of ages from 14-25ish.

      • I understand the problem. However, the world is full of problems and we cannot remove all the risk in the world. That is why it is so important for kids to have active and engaged parenting to help them navigate the risky situations. If you have a son or daughter who looks older than they are, they need to be warned about certain situations.

        When adults knowingly prey after kids and teens under 18, it is unconscionable. If an adult accidentally goes after someone who is not of legal age, I say tough shit for them. I’ve never seen a 16 year old who looks 25. I’ve seen 16 year olds who look 20 though. If those are the type of partners that an adult is into, they’d better be careful because that person may be a kid but you are definitely an adult-the burden of responsibility lies on your head. This goes for men and women.

        • I’ve seen plenty of 15 year olds that can easily pass for 20+. The tough part is when 20-25′s go for the “looks 20″ but is really 15, I don’t agree that they should be slammed by the law unless they knew he/she was underage. Of course to avoid this just avoid hookup culture, date someone for a while before having sex with them. There’s a big difference between predators and people making a mistake.

  15. Hi Quinnlin, I’m a friend of your mom’s, too. My dtgehaur is also in Girl Scouts. She has changed troops three times. Like you, she loves Scouting and is now in a troop with girls who work together very well. I’m glad you stuck it out and found a troop with nice girls. It would have been easy to quit but you kept on. That is great! i hope you have a great Scouting year,Siobhan Wolf

  16. I have seen alot of girls turn to drugs and alcohol. moltsy because of stress or because they are dealing with something in their life and they just want to get away from it all. Drugs and alcohol are a temperary getaway from reality, and when they come dow from the high or from that mini vacation in their mind, reality hits them even harder and they want to avoid that as much as possible, and thats why we have drug addicts and alcoholics. To them, they dont need friends because when the drugh and alcohol take over and they are in that little world, they have everything they need, friends, family, and a pain killer.

  17. If we thought of the princess as a young Catherine the Great, that is, signficant because she would become a ruler, it wouldn’t matter much. The problem is the assumption that what is most important about her is the ability to attract male gaze.

  18. There is no more effective way to demoralize a young girl than to compliment her solely on the superficial characteristics over which she has no control and ignore those that are actually important such as strength, determination, perseverance, honestly, integrity, kindness, good judgement, compassion, etc.

    Likewise, praise for something someone is rather than what that person does is also demoralizing. “You are so smart!” says nothing about the effort or actions of the person in the same way “You’re so pretty!” does; looking deeper to appreciate the person and their journey takes a little more effort, but praise based on actions and effort will raise a person and encourage them. “You worked so hard and look what you’ve accomplished!” “I knew you could do it!”–these are the kinds of praise are what will inspire and encourage children because they empower them. They tell kids that you see potential in them and that you believe in them.

    • Becareful with praising kids on their achievements so as to avoid the child feeling pressure to keep achieving to be given praise. It can set kids up to feel their worth is in what they do ONLY. If a kid gets lots of praise for doing well on a test but doesn’t do well for the next few years, will they still get praise?

Trackbacks

  1. [...] after she had stated: "I would love to hear your views on this one, especially from the dads" Encouraging princess culture in girls Out of the gloom a voice spake unto me. 'Smile and be happy, Things could get worse." So I [...]

  2. [...] The Good Men Project Magazine: Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls I've been looking for an excuse to link to The Good Men Project, and this seems like a good one. This publication is an attempt to create a "men's magazine" that isn't using the term as a euphemism for a soft-core porn magazine, and I've enjoyed the half dozen articles that I've read in the past year or so. This article addresses the responsibility that we men have to steer girls away from being prematurely sexualized, often in the form of princess culture. (tags: feminism gender) [...]

  3. [...] Sigh. So what, as a father, do you do? The answer lies in what all three authors – Schwyzer, Combe and Orenstein – seem to get at. You take care of your kids and keep your head on a swivel for crap from the outside world. You don’t let Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry mother your kids. And as a father, don’t you be caught googling pictures of either one of those women or your daughter will think she’s got to look like them in order to get noticed by boys. Source: Good Men Project [...]

  4. [...] but also on women in general. Moreover this influence starts at a perversely a young age with the princess cult, then Seventeen Magazine, and then finally the mixed messages of Anna Wintour’s fantasy land. [...]

  5. Sex says:

    [...] have been covering this, too, I’m grateful to say; see below). The article is called “Men, Princess Culture, and the Sexualization of Young Girls” and it references  Peggy Orentstein’s book Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches [...]

  6. [...] father’s compliments that she’s looking for. Last week, GMPM columnist Hugo Schwyzer wrote about how simple compliments like “you look pretty!” reinforce a pattern that teaches [...]

  7. [...] a similar topic, I found a great post on GoodMenProject called “Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls“.  With over 1,300 facebook shares so far, lots of us are thinking about this [...]

  8. [...] Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls – On the “princess problem” and how men are part of the solution from The Good Men Project. [...]

  9. [...] not that keen on the princess culture. In fact, I deliberately avoid buying anything with princesses on them. Although she has more than [...]

  10. [...] Hugo Schwyzer for The Good Men Project: Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls [...]

  11. [...] empowerment groups like 7Wonderlicious and boy advocacy groups like The Achilles Effect recognize. The Good Men Project understands what’s at stake extremely well, and fortunately there really are a lot of good men [...]

  12. Extra Reading…

    [...]we like to honor other sites on the web, even if they aren’t related to us, by linking to them. Below are some sites worth checking out[...]…

  13. Life says:

    [...] lot has already been written on gendered toys and the princess culture (see here and here and here). I always found this culture upsetting, even infuriating, but I also thought I was rather immune [...]

  14. [...] Men, Princess Culture, and the Sexualization of Young Girls [...]

  15. [...] Us, The Best LGBT Books of All Time, Are There Good Guys in Porn?, Being a Dude is a Good Thing, Men and the Sexualization of Young Girls, I Used to Stand in Dark Hallways and Say Kiss Me, When Playboy Bunnies Ruled, I Am a Female Nerd [...]

  16. [...] one isn’t recent but I just read it for the first time and it’s worth a read, Men and the sexualization of young girls – The Good Men [...]

  17. [...] What I began to notice was that the majority of protesters (in writing) were female, even though I knew that there were many male teachers, fathers and grand-fathers that were equally opposed to this toxic trend. Hence, I decided to do some interviews and research places where men had written in protest regarding child beauty pageants and bring some of these views onto one page. Let me quickly add that there will be a few men that support this pageant culture. However, the only ones I seemed to find were those few stand-out fathers that enter their daughters into pageants themselves in the name of father-daughter bonding. I am not saying that bonding does not occur, but what frightens me are the messages that girls are getting about men’s expectations of them, through their fathers. The Good Men Project mentions this relationship in an article here. [...]

  18. [...] of them, through their fathers. The Good Men Project mentions this relationship in an article here. The most obvious opposing male voices to begin with are those of psychologists Dr Michael [...]

  19. [...] including toys for girls to instil passiveness, overt sexuality at younger and younger ages, and a princess identity that teaches her to defer to the prince who will supposedly sweep her off of her feet. I’m not [...]

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