chapter  5
Television and Sexualization
Pages 28

There is ample evidence that sexual imagery in the traditional mass media that are popular with children and teenagers, particularly films and television, is widespread. In addition, there are plentiful opportunities for young people to witness this content. There is also evidence that these media present a non-normative representation of sexuality. Sexual attributes and scripts in television programmes and films made for showing in cinemas have often been found to present exaggerated impressions about sex, being sexy, and the significance of sex in everyday life. Sexual attractiveness is often packaged in a highly stereotyped way, particularly in relation to depictions of the physical human body. Sexual relations are also frequently dramatized in ways that present to young people a narrow repertoire of sexual scripts that could potentially lead to unrealistic expectations in their own lives. Much of the empirical evidence has also revealed extensive gender stereotyping

amongst the sexual imagery that the media present to young people. For a long time, television and movies were found to be guilty of generally restricting women’s roles. Men occupied the most interesting leading parts, with women most often used as support acts. The numerical under-representation of women in television programmes and movies was compounded by perhaps an even more serious problem that when they were shown, women were generally stereotyped. Domestic roles were played up and roles showing women as successful in jobs and careers were rare. This pattern was certainly true from the 1950s through to the 1990s.1