A UNICEF report published earlier this year stated that the objectification and sexualization of women in the media are linked to sexual violence against females worldwide.
The report stated, “every ten minutes, somewhere in the world, a young girl dies as a result of violence. Nearly one in five girls is sexually exploited at least once in her life.
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Why are women repeatedly the victims of sexual violence?
There is no particular answer to this question. However, experts believe that women’s continuous objectification in media contributes to harmful gender stereotypes that often trivialize violence against females.
A report by the American Psychological Association on the sexualization of girls in the media found that women are depicted sexually more often than men, dressed in revealing clothes, and with postures or facial expressions that imply sexual predisposition.
In a study published by print media, researchers at Wesleyan University observed that on average, across 58 different American magazines, 51.8% of ads that featured women portrayed them as sex objects. But, when women appeared in advertisements in men’s magazines, they were objectified 76% of the time.
“Sexual objectification contributes to extremely detrimental gender stereotypes that normalize sexual violence against women.”
These stereotypes are not only harmful to girls but boys as well. Boys see how their bodies are portrayed with girls and internalize that success and attractiveness are tied to dominance, control, and aggression.
Advertisements can set the standard for what society considers normal. When the media encourages power dynamics that diminish and harm women and makes gender-based violence seem insignificant, it reduces the possibility that acts of violence against females, especially sexual violence, will be reported.
The UNICEF report concluded, “The media often gives the message that girls should be beautiful, not powerful, noticed, not respected. And this is extremely harmful, not just to a woman and her growth, but to our culture at large.”
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