Image: Illustration by Maddy Pease
There is nothing more eye opening as to how women are objectified than when looking at how young girls are sexualized not only by older men, but by society in general. What does it say about the state of our world, when many women have stories describing how they have been sexualized, catcalled, and/or harassed by men by or before the young age of 12? The Lolita complex, a phrase coined by Russell Trainer, is in reference to an attraction to young girls. This whole complex simply showcases how the fetishization of young girls has become a disgustingly prominent fixture in certain aspects of popular cultures such as the media.
The media, for instance, has even been sexualizing the two-year-old North West as a means of clickbait material. Recently, Billboard tweeted a picture of North West licking a lollipop with the caption of “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…” making people believe they were referencing Kim Kardashian’s sex tape.
— anna leszkiewicz (@annaleszkie) October 30, 2015
However, the tweet was supposedly comparing North’s “sassy” reaction to the paparazzi as similar to something her mother would do, hence the caption. The despicable action in this case is using the obvious innuendo of sexualizing the two year old in order to get more hits on the page, and the fact that these types of occurrences keep repeating. Women are treated differently, many times judged only on their appearances, only considered worthy as objects of men’s pleasure, or through a means of advertising and profit. It is even worse when a two year old girl is used and sexualized for clickbait, regardless of the consequences it could put on North in the future. The fact that a child has been allowed to be treated like this by the media only opens up the spotlight to how adult women are treated by the media. For example, we see aspects of this every day from sexist interview questions, age gaps, and seemingly importance of their wardrobes and how good they look in them.
Another media-related incident that showcases how men sexualize women are the countdown clocks that were put into effect for many actresses. These countdown clocks would exhibit the exact second that actresses such as the Olsen twins, Emma Watson, Lindsay Lohan, and Hilary Duff turned eighteen and were no longer “jailbait.” The comments on such websites would include many slurs and fantasies that the users wanted to commit to these young women, praying for the day that they would do Playboy or porn. It is incredibly demeaning to these women, not to mention creepy, that hundreds, even thousands, of men are waiting for the very second that it could be considered “societally acceptable” to lust after them. Nonetheless the most sexist response to the countdown clocks was how certain media outlets would report on them, many saying that the limelight would no longer be on them once they celebrated their 18th birthday, instead of addressing the issue of sexism and fetisizing young girls.
While these incidences have occurred in the past decade, it still occurs today in different forms of commentary. Simply looking at the commentary on YouTube videos of young girls either starring in TV shows, movies, or making their own YouTube videos is enough to disgust. These girls are trying to make a career in the arts and entertainment, their aims do not include being told that they should show more cleavage or to take their tops off completely. Is it so wrong for a girl to try and do something for herself without being sexualized at every turn? Is the message that a young woman’s worth is based only on her sexuality one we really want to teach?
Women are not objects! Women are human beings, and sexualizing and fetishizing young innocent girls by projecting desires onto them are disgusting acts that should not even exist in the first place. These are only a few examples in a long list of offensive sexist things that happen to young women, and this article would quickly turn into a thousand page essay if I were to dissect every aspect of sexualization that young girls are subjected to.