Social Considerations Related to Adolescent Girls’ Sexual Empowerment: A Response to Lamb and Peterson

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We expand on Lamb and Peterson’s (2011) discussion of the influence of social forces on the development of girls’ sexual empowerment. A predominant message from a variety of media in the U.S. is that women are sexual objects controlled by men’s sexual desires. Media messages are bolstered by the sexist treatment of girls and women in everyday society, and by gendered social roles derived from the patriarchal structure of society. We present empirical evidence that societal representations of sexuality in the United States are gendered and promote male control over female sexuality. We review research linking exposure to these sexist messages with the development of self-objectification and attitudes and behaviors supportive of gender stereotyped sexual roles. While many studies are conducted with women rather than girls, researchers are beginning to study these issues in older girls, and some longitudinal data are available. We make suggestions for further research within an ecological framework that would allow the examination of messages from multiple sources within a developmental framework.


Sex Roles



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