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The sexualisation of girls degrades childhood and a holistic sense of self, through for example, sexualised clothing for girls, the presentation of children in advertisements as sexual beings and their exposure to sexually explicit music videos and online content.
Women and girls, and to a lesser but still significant extent boys and men, are required to define themselves by a core value of sexual appeal which diminishes the full expression of personality and potential.
The effects of sexualisation are far-reaching and include risk factors for early pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted infections, low self esteem and self-justification for sexual offenders. Children as young as five suffer from early onset eating disorders, one of the many harmful effects of child sexualisation.
Elizabeth has advised the Office of the Children’s Commissioner in New Zealand on the human rights impacts of sexualisation, and has spoken at the House of Commons on the sexualised depiction of women in advertising. Elizabeth hosted a presentation and discussion on sexualized imagery in advertising with Anna van Heeswijk of Object, at London advertising agency Proximity, for creative and client management teams.
Please see Elizabeth’s articles on sexualisation below, to read more:
- July 2012 Advertising: House of Commons speech on sexualisation in advertising. Sexualisation is a human rights issue. Not the human right you might think of – the right to freedom of expression of advertisers – but rights such as to health, freedom from discrimination, and the right to be free from violence and abuse.
- February 2012 Cosmetic Surgery: PIP implants, labiaplasty & the myth of choice in a culture of pornography. One of the main issues debated was why women who had implants for cosmetic reasons should get National Health Service (NHS) support. But where was the analysis of the social backdrop which encourages women with average, small or non-spherical breasts to undergo a painful operation and risk their health, in order to be seen as attractive in the eyes of Western culture. And pay thousands of pounds for the privilege.
- October 2010 Objectification: Breast cancer’s handbag campaign: sexist, puerile, insulting. What seems like a bit of playful fun in the name of a good cause, is actually reaffirming all kinds of denigrating ideas around the subject of gender.
- July 2010 Sexuality Education: Sexuality education and human rights. Human rights and sexuality education are interrelated, with sexuality education supporting human rights and vice versa.
June 2010 Breastfeeding: Sexualised boob obsession has origins in lactation. Humans are the only primate which has prominent breasts outside of breastfeeding their young. In other words prominent breasts in primates – such as the gorilla mother in the photo album below – equal lactating breasts.
- June 2010 Corporate Paedophilia: Stepping up the fight against childhood sexualisation. Historically New Zealand has been in Australia’s shadow concerning action against the sexualisation of children. However, awareness of the issue in New Zealand has now been intentified, with initiatives by Auckland University and the National Council of Women of New Zealand (NCWNZ).
- March 2010 Fashion as Subjugation: On-trend shoes: high fashion or a step too far. Alexander McQueen’s Spring 2010 runway collection “was a statement about the future of our world”. However the shoes in the collection – sky high platforms – are distinctly historical, reflecting fashions of a bygone era by subjugating women with clothing and footwear specifically designed to restrict movement.