Archive for the ‘Sexuality’ Category

url-7-600x385The title alone should cause some neck hairs to stand at full attention, but after reading a recent Nerve magazine article, it’s definitely another reason why teens need godly adults in their lives to help them identify truth & health vs. deception & moral corruption.

The author, Kate Hakala, uses input gathered from teens about the top 10 reasons they feel that hooking up with a stranger is actually a good thing.  The author holds nothing back, and obviously her own morals are severely lacking.  It’s a shame that people are buying into this, but then again, a lot of her research is coming from the perception of teens themselves…or at least that’s the angle she’s taking…I’d like to see the source research on this where it was teens that actually responded, vs. college/university students and younger adults.

Now might be time for some of us parents to have a morality chat with our youth…not dwelling on the obvious of what’s accepted and happening, but rather on the ‘what ought to be’ and the consequences of walking outside God’s moral boundaries.

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There’s a few sports I really look forward to in the fall…hockey, baseball playoffs, the NFL & NBA…but there’s one ‘sport’ I’m hoping falls flat on its face.  The Bikini Basketball Association…yes…bikini basketball!  I’m not sure where to start about how the values and morals of our society have eroded to such a degree that people would invest money into a league that promotes the lust for “sexy athletic ladies from around the world.”  With teams like the New York Knockouts, Hollywood Hotties, and Orlando Lady Cats, it’s not too difficult to figure out that ‘fans’ won’t be as interested in points and wins as much as they are watching ‘players’ run around the court with the anticipation of a uniform ‘malfunction.’

It’s idiotic ideas and corrupted morals like these, this over-sexualization, that are vastly infiltrating our society’s perception of women, and especially the self-image and perception our younger girls have of themselves.  The American Psychological Association describes ‘sexualization’ as;

when a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics.”

In addition to that definition, I would also add at the end; “…and for satisfying the desires of others.

So in other words, who cares about athletic skill level, competency, character…but are you sexy and hot in a bikini?  That’s the message the BBA is sending out to women, and it’s a message influencing more that just aspiring athletic young ladies.  Think about the pressures our young 14+ year-old girls are facing today in the attempt to keep up with the frantic and lustful expectations to be sexy, hot, attractive, and noticeable today.  The images and marketing ploys are aimed at raising all the wrong ‘standards’, and lowering the ones that matter.  

Don’t believe me?  Take a look at this article about how marketers are targeting younger girls and women for Halloween costumes.  Just like the base of a cliff, every year the morals and values of our society are eroding and fading away…until eventually there’s going to be a huge mess that can’t be cleaned up!  And don’t even get me started with those ridiculous child beauty pageants….yikes!  What was once tagged as too provocative or ‘offsides’ yesterday, is now seen as no big deal or just part of the times we live in.  But our culture is just providing fuel to feed the desires of lust, immorality and sexual idolatry.  

So I’m hoping, like me, you’re reading this and seeing the unnecessary conduct and offended by the personal fouls of pursuits like the BBA, and the marketers who peddle ‘kiddie porn’ and attempt to seduce our young women into falling prey to the trap of sexualization.  Instead of silently complaining about what’s going on, let’s clamor together to get the word out that this kind of conduct and attitude is unacceptable.  Let’s raise our hands , blow the whistle and yell ‘foul!’…but while our hands & voices are still raised, also point to God’s much healthier standards and morals!

 

Last night I was reading up on some bloggers that I follow and came across Walt Mueller’s post about a new pornography infograph.  If you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you’ll have likely noticed I have a man-crush on infographs!   Walt profiled some research from an organization called Fight the New Drug, and although I wouldn’t consider porn to be a ‘new’ addiction, I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of information they have, as well as the digital and user-friendly way in which their site is set up.

You can read Mueller’s blog entry here, and while you’re there, why not browse around and check out the excellent research and info he has available for free on his site.  Here’s what he had to say about the issue of porn before he went on to recommend the Fight the New Drug website.

I’ve been spending the last few days buried in research and writing to update my presentations on the destructive power of pornography. I’m looking forward to speaking on these issues next week at the D6 Conference in Texas and then again next month at the National Youthworkers Convention in San Diego.

Researching this topic is difficult. Like most males (or more realistically “most people”), I have seen and consequently been effected by pornography. I was 12 years old the first time. Digging deeper into just what those effects are is frightening work for many reasons. . . perhaps the most alarming of which is the prevalence and early exposure among younger kids. Then, you start thinking ahead. . . and it’s scary.”

Thankfully there are many resources available online and in print on the subject of pornography addiction, but sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to figure out where to start, and how to sort the info and claims out there.  So I checked out the site Walt plugged in his blog and I was very impressed with the content and layout…it was very well done and thought-out.  Now for those of you who are Christians (which there are many that follow my blog), FTND claims no religious affiliation whatsoever, and in fact refer to science as their method of choice in establishing their facts and views.  They also note this on their website.

The reason I bring this up is because very often science and Christianity have not played very well together, and the mere mention of each other’s name can cause severe hissy fits!  Although I generally agree that science is not often an accurate measure of Christian and historical facts, however in this case, science and Christianity would definitely agree with each other!   I haven’t done an exhaustive search into these guys and their work, but from the 40+ minutes I spent surfing around the FTND web community, I see no reason not to recommend this site to anyone concerned with the negative social, relational, emotional, psychological and physiological effects of porn.

Below you can find the infograph Walt Mueller referred to, and I would also recommend you check out The Effects of Pornography tree they have on their site…just scroll over the red dots to reveal further info.
As well, I would encourage you to check out a recent article from XXXChurch- 7 Negative Effects of Porn, which compliments the research from FTND.  Although XXXChurch is a Christian-based ministry and some of the research is from Christians working in the medical and clinical fields, many of the sources they site are of a secular background.

I find this encouraging because it’s givingfurther proof and validation to what the bible has to say re: sexual immorality and impurity.  And like the recent scientific data, the biblical reasons for identifying porn in a negative light isn’t predicated on social or cultural ethics, but on the fact that it’s just plain bad for you…emotionally, socially, relationally, physiologically, psychologically…it just doesn’t produce anything good!

It’s a good thing that it’s not just the Christian voices vying for the public attention, but it’s voices from a broad and extended range of persuasion that are all saying the same thing…porn is destructive, distorts sexual reality, and should be avoided at all costs!  That’s encouraging news to hear, so let’s keep spreading the word and continue to pray for protection on those not-yet exposed, and deliverance for those that have been seduced by the lures of pornography and lust.  In Jesus’ name we speak freedom, victory and healing over generations affected, and believe in faith for chains to fall off forever…Amen!

Two articles found their way to my inbox (and attention) this week that both dealt with the area of sexualization among young men and women.  If you have any access to media (TV, internet, etc…) or simply walk the streets and venture into shopping malls, you’ll notice that vast array of marketing sexuality, with teens as the main target (both as consumers and advertising).  Market research has long ago figured out that sex and sensuality sell, and they know teenagers and younger adults are the bait and hook.

You can’t turn the TV on without watching some program or commercial that doesn’t feature some form of aggressive sensuality aimed to sell their product.  Whether it’s an Axe commercial with half-naked women caressing a shirtless guy, a beer commercial with ditsy ladies in skin-tight pool fashion, or pretty much any show or commercial with gratuitous cleavage, skin, or involving a ploy to party and have a promiscuously good time!  Even allowing my kids to watch YTV is getting riskier with some of the programming and advertising they allow.  So as a parent, I’m glad The Source 4YM launched these two articles within a couple of days of each other, and sought to arm parents and youth workers with some good knowledge and awareness ammo.

The first articlePromiscuous Programming Promotes Promiscuity: Sex Education Via CBS and MTV, details the plight of what programmers and marketers are throwing at our culture today, and how they are influencing a generation of young minds and eyes.  This post kind of fires back at the “it doesn’t really affect me” comment from teenagers when they’re confronted with the reality that what they watch and see can, and does, affect them.

on-screen promiscuity promotes promiscuity in real life.” (soon-to-be published study from Ross O’Hara in the Psychological Science Journal)

Here’s a couple of things Smith and McKee (from The Souce 4YM) noted in their article;
An Increase in Inappropriateness 70% of the shows depicting full nudity aired before 9pm this year (aka “family hour”), compared to 50% of last year’s program.  Bleeping and muting of the F-word increased from 11 instances in 2005 to 276 in 2010. That 2,409% increase in F-bombs!

Defending the Dirty– CBS President Nina Tassler took criticism for the comedies she admits are “a little risqué,” but ultimately defended them by saying, “The fact that there is such strong ratings growth for all of them means that those shows are resonating. It means that the characters are resonating. It means that their dialogue is really landing with audiences. The shows are laugh-out-loud funny.” 

The Results of Risque TV– According to Pediatrics’ 2010 research:“Seventy percent of teen shows contain sexual content, Strasburger added, “and less than 10% of that content involves what anyone would classify as being responsible content. There’s no mention of contracting an STD (sexually transmitted disease) or the need to wait to have sex until later.”

And as usual, instead of simply announcing sour news, they leave parents and youth workers with encouragement and practical suggestions in how we can address the issues.

The second article, The ‘Right’ Kind of Porn is from Jonathan McKee, who never shies away from tackling tough issues, especially when it involves sex and sexuality!  His article was fueled by a piece in the Huffington Post which basically makes the claims that in today’s sexually charged culture, porn isn’t that bad as long as it’s the ‘right’ and appropriate kind of porn.  Really??  So now there’s the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ kind of porn…and who exactly gets to define what’s appropriate and inappropriate porn?  As Jonathan encourages us to in his post, I also encourage you to read the entire article (linked above) so that Vivian Diller’s words aren’t taken out of context (author of Huffington Post article).

An interesting challenge facing parents, but one that made me wonder not only about the “right”versus “wrong kind” of porn, but about how our young daughters fit into this discussion. How does the changing landscape of “what’s out there” influence the way young girls view their own maturing bodies? And, maybe even more worrisome, does it shape their perspective on what is arousing to others?  -Vivian Diller

I share McKee’s admonishment re: some of Diller’s thoughts in raising awareness of the pressure and false-perception the over-sexualized and sensualized culture is sending to young girls and women that is negatively affecting their self-image and value.  But just as Diller makes some positive overtures about the damage that the pornographic and sexual culture is having on young girls (and boys), she then endorses (at least inadvertently) a show like HBO’s Girls.  Like McKee, I don’t want to throw the baby out with the bathwater…but you’ve got to draw a line somewhere, and I think Diller not only crosses the line…she’s pretty much wiped it clear.

One of the most refreshing things about the HBO series Girls — while highly graphic and out there sexually — is that the male and female stars are not only far from perfect physically, they don’t even seem to care that much. Perhaps, from a certain perspective, writer and producer Lena Dunham is leading teens toward what might be called “politically correct porn,” a healthier, more realistic vision of sexuality that in the future may support, rather than undermine, their authentic sense of self.” -Vivian Diller

But I’ll let you read the article and you can decide for yourself what you feel is right, wrong, appropriate, inappropriate…and what is true in this realm of sexuality.  If you’re a parent of a teen, or you work alongside them, then you’d better at least know about shows like Girls.  We need to know what kind of messages they are sending to young viewers…potentially your sons and daughter, or young teens you work with and care deeply about…and how these shows are a major player in how they view their own sexuality and moral boundaries.

This is a guest post from David R. Smith, who is a trusted and often used resource @ Here & There...  David paints a real and all-too accurate picture of the struggle young girls and women are battling everyday with their self-esteem/worth.

If you’re a parent of a young girl, or you work with young women, this is a great read for you to get a closer glimpse into the struggle for perfection young girls are engaged in.  But Smith also offers solutions and steps we can take in leading young women to real change, and what truly defines their value, worth and image.

Enjoy the read, and hopefully it will encourage you to step into the life of a young girl who needs positive affirmation and attention from the right sources, and to expose the lies of what our media and pop culture defines as beauty and the ‘perfect image.’  Pass this along to someone you think it would make an impact on!

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING
Aug. 10, 2012 6:56am  David R. Smith

36-24-36. 

No, those aren’t the winning numbers for this week’s lottery jackpot; they’re even more prized than that! Those digits represent the measurements of the “perfect” female physique.

And today’s girls are doing everything they can to find the winning combination.

The Pursuit of Perfection
Ever since the American Psychological Association initiated the Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls, studies have been underway to discover the impact our racy culture has on our young ladies. Their findings are often unsettling, but so is what they study.

Researchers from Knox College (Illinois) are some of the latest to join the effort with a study on young girls (ages 6 to 9) and their idea of “sexy.” Girls in this age bracket were shown two different dolls: one that was dressed in “tight, revealing” clothing, and one that was dressed in “trendy, more modest” attire. The girls were then asked to choose which doll most-resembled themselves, which doll was the most popular, which doll was wanted for play, and which doll she most-wanted to look like.

Unsurprisingly, the young girls chose the sexier doll most often. In fact, 68% of the girls picked the sexier doll as the one they wanted to look like, while 72% said the sexier doll was the more popular of the two options. It’s abundantly clear; girls – even those at a very young age – know exactly what they want to look like in life.

So it’s no wonder that little girls who idolize sexiness try to emulate it as young ladies.

These days, teenage girls are just as likely as older women to wear form-enhancing undergarments like Spanx to try and alter their body image. Celebrities ranging from Miley Cyrus to Oprah have sported the shapewear, but nowadays, many regular girls also use the products to mask “muffin tops” and other physical flaws. Meanwhile, several doctors are worried about the long-lasting effects of wearing such constricting fabrics.

Other girls pass on wardrobe changes…and opt for bodychanges instead.

Nadia Ilse just made news for having roughly $40,00 worth of cosmetic surgery doneat the age of 14. Another high-profile case of cosmetic-surgery-for-minors was that of 13-year-old Nicolette Taylor, who had her nose operated on after it was broken twice in childhood. To be fair, both of these girls were experiencing taunting, in person and on social media. I don’t want to blur lines here; there’s a big difference between trying to look sexy and trying to avoid bullying. But it’s just another example of how image-driven our society has become. By the way, there were over a quarter million aesthetic procedures performed on teens in 2011.

And where has all their efforts landed them?

3D: Dieting, Disillusioned, and Depressed
Girls’ pursuit of perfection hasn’t exactly taken them to Utopia. Far from it, in fact.

Even though Miss Representation’s “Keep It Real” campaign claims that 80% of 10-year-old girls say they’ve dieted and 81% of the same group are afraid of getting fat, the greatest desire of 11 to 17-year-old girls is still to “be thinner.” Moreover, almost half of girls, 48%, wish they were as skinny as today’s models. Based on those stats, it’s no wonder, that in 2011, the National Institute on Media and the Family found that 53% of 13-year-old girls in the U.S. were “unhappy with their bodies,” a number that grows to 78% by the time the girls reach the age of 17.

But it gets worse.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reported that adolescent girls experience depression three times that of their male counterparts. According to their findings, 12% of girls (12 to 17-years-old) have battled “major depressive episodes” compared to just 4.5% of boys the same age. Their studies also show that girls’ depression worsens (in frequency and severity) the older they get.

I’ve already written about the dangerous side effects of girls’ low self-esteem in previous Youth Culture Window articles.Several times, in fact. Our girls’ reality still isn’t improving…so our strategy must.

Real Change
It’s an unfair world that our young ladies live in these days. Everything from magazine covers to towering billboards promote a female image so unattainable that it would be comical if not for the devastating heartache it causes millions of young girls. But in a world where the deck is stacked against girls, there are still several moves that loving parents and youth workers can make that will make a big difference.

    1. Discuss reality…actual reality. One of our first actions should be to help girls gain a firm grip on reality when it comes to their self-image. If they’re comparing themselves to glossy pages, what they’re really comparing themselves to is some anonymous Photoshopper’s imagination. If you want proof of that, just check out this humorous compilation of “unreal advertisements.” Our girls need a realistic goal for themselves, one that’s not only healthy, but holy. Fortunately, we’ve provided a totally free resource to help with this on ourSPIRITUAL GROWTH AGENDAS page.
    2. Teach where self-worth really comes from. If a girl’s self-worth is tied to her appearance, it’s going to shatter at some point in the future. No exceptions. Physical beauty is important, without a doubt, but it’s not the end-all-be-all. She’ll need something that’s much more meaningful and long-lasting to guide her through the wrinkles and blemishes of life. The greatest sense of self-worth for young ladies comes from being aligned with God’s Word on issues such as their character, ethics, faith, and relationships. The Book of Proverbs is a great place to start building this DNA of self-worth into young girls.
    3. Help them model gratitude. New research from California State University reveals a link between gratitude and depression in the lives of young people: when gratitude is low, depression is higher. Likewise, they discovered that when young people’s gratitude increased, so did their levels of happiness, hope, and satisfaction in life. Furthermore, grateful teenagers had noticeably lower levels of depression than their ungrateful peers. This just makes sense. Granted, not every girl has hands that will be used in commercials for diamond rings, but every girl who has functioning hands is grateful for them. We can reinforce so many positives – and avoid so many negatives – by helping girls simply be grateful for their bodies.

Beauty is subjective (“in the eye of the beholder”) and somewhat shallow (“skin deep”). Yet so many girls are trapped in a hopeless search for physical perfection. Do everything you can to help them genuinely love themselves just as God created them…in His image.

Brought to you by The Source for Youth Ministry