What is sexualisation?

What is sexualisation?


According to The American Psychological Association, sexualisation occurs when:

  1. a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behaviour, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
  2. a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
  3. a person is sexually objectified — that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or
  4. sexuality is inappropriately imposed on a person

Any one of these is an indication of sexualisation. The fourth is especially relevant to children. When children are imbued with adult sexuality, it is often imposed on rather than chosen by them. Self-motivated sexual exploration, on the other hand, is not sexualisation by our definition, nor is age-appropriate exposure to information about sexuality.

Opposing sexualisation is not the same as opposing sex or sexuality. We are for a culture in which individuals are able to develop and express healthy sexuality. To achieve this we must resist a culture that tells us we are no more than the sum of our sexual parts.

This video put together by Renee Chopping, provides a useful introduction to the issue.

See also:

Corporate Paedophilia: Sexualisation of children in Australia, Emma Rush, Andrew La Nauze, The Australia Institute, October 2006 

Letting Children Be Children: Stopping the sexualisation of children in Australia, Emma Rush, Andrew La Nauze, The Australia Institute, December 2006

American Psychological Association Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualisation of Girls (2008) 

Getting Real: Challenging the sexualisation of girls, ed Melinda Tankard Reist (Spinifex Press 2009)

‘The Market is Eating Our Children’, Dr Emma Rush, February 10, 2012 

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