Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott first published Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go from Here in 2008. The following quotes have been selected for the readers:
[N]aomi Wolf, also find pornography troubling, but not because of the supposed harm inflicted by tainted males. Rather, pornography connects good sex exclusively with the Barbie-like bodies of porn stars, and so interferes with ordinary women’s enjoyment of sex—something that is very important
to the third-wavers… (pg. 182)
Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls.
Through this process of sexualization, girls (the study looked at females ranging in age from seven to college age) are stripped of all value except for the sexual use to which they might be put. They are, to use an old and familiar term, nothing more than sex objects. The APA panel drew on clinical experience, a survey of cultural influences, and the research of dozens of studies. Their conclusions are chilling, documenting damage to girls ranging from psychological problems such as eating disorders to cognitive impairment.
The panel found that the sexualization of girls and women was indeed pervasive and increasing. Through cartoons, music, magazines, clothing, advertisements, toys, and a host of other products and images, girls are told indirectly and directly, over and over, that their only value is their sexuality. Living with this cultural mantra, girls begin to self-objectify: they begin to see themselves as others see them, as objects of desire. When a girl accepts sexualized images as personal ideals she must live up to, and sees herself always through the eyes of others, she is in trouble. (pg. 193)
Sexualized girls and young women face several potential pitfalls. Some, constantly monitoring their appearance with constant disappointment, develop depression, low self-esteem, and eating disorders. Others may come to believe that the cultural stereotypes about female worth are perfectly natural and right—a highly toxic idea. (pg. 194)
The APA report lists a host of other damaging consequences of sexualization, some quite surprising. For example, according to several studies, the process of self-objectification can result in decreased intellectual performance, specifically in such areas as mathematics and logic. Also, sexualization at a young age has been shown to lead to unhealthy sexual behavior during the teen years, such as sexual passivity and the decreased use of condoms. (pg. 194)
Another recent study, titled “Sexy Media Matter” and published in Pediatrics in April 2006, gauged the precise impact on adolescents of sexual content in music, movies, television, and magazines. Girls, aged twelve to fourteen, with a high consumption of media with sexual content, are 2.2 times more likely to have sexual intercourse over the next two years than those with a low diet of the same material. (pg. 194)
Sexualized, as we have shown, does not mean hypersexed. It means, rather, that a person, female or male, young or old, is divested of all other qualities he or she may be said to possess—intelligence, spirituality, sense of humor, athleticism, compassion, talent—and reduced to an outward husk, utterly empty but for a single potential, the ability to satisfy someone else’s sexual needs. (pg. 198)
It is difficult to argue against sexualization and the trappings
of sexualization—such as slutwear—without sounding prudish or
anti-sex. The distinction, however, between sexuality and sexualization is crucial and must be understood clearly. One can enjoy sexuality without being sexualized. One can be sexualized and not enjoy one’s sexuality. (In fact, we would argue that the sexualized person likely does not enjoy her or his own sexuality, since that sexuality is so much in the service of others—the perceptions of others, the judgments of others, the enjoyment of others, the approval of others.)
In the words of the Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, discussed in Chapter 7, sexualization causes a person to feel that his or her “value comes only from his or her sexual appearance or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.” (pg. 208)
When both men and women endorse the cultural ideal of the nineteen-year-old body as not only the highest good, but in effect the only good (“to the exclusion of other characteristics”), they eƒectively undermine themselves. (pg. 210)
Even for ordinary young women and men, having grown up
sexualized surely adds layers of difficulty to the already formidable challenges of being a wife, a husband, a mother, a father. For one thing, how does one make the transition from the hookup culture to monogamy? For another, on what basis does one make such a transition when relations with the opposite sex have up to this point been deliberately confined to the superficially sexual? (Can marriages made on the basis of superficial sexuality be expected to last?) And how does one continue in the marriage when sexual excitement, the basis of the union, is compromised by the demands of raising kids? Or, as is inevitable over the years, when the sexual attractiveness (defined in totally physical terms) of the partner diminishes?