After watching the CBC documentary Sext Up Kids. I didn’t find it over surprising to see how sexualized our society is becoming. A simple Google search of “girls” shows just that. I decided to do a quick experiment what would show up if I typed in “girls” and hit the image search. This is a screenshot of the front page results. (Makes you wonder what the “safe search” filter standards really are).
What message is this sending to young girls? What message is this sending to young boys? Well, it’s not a very positive one.
What is the effect of our sexualized society on our students? How do we teach students what is public and what is private? How does this relate to digital identity?
Young kids have the ability to search whatever they want, usually with limited supervision. What is scary is the effect on teens and tweens in our society. All too often we see on Facebook, Twitter, etc. many young girls trying to conform to the norm. Which is now “sexy”. Jesse Miller the Social Media Consultant in Sext Up Kids, says that most kids are in the time where what was private 15 years ago is now becoming increasingly public. Many students believe that things that are private is equal to shameful. “Just because technology is easy, doesn’t make it smart”. I believe that this is what we need to teach our students. Students need to realize that the sharing of inappropriate photos and sexting can be shared with others, and chances are it will. In the digital age what we share online is and can be difficult to erase once posted to the internet. The world of pop-culture is becoming blurred with the world of porn-culture. We can see this in music videos, movies, video games. With sexualized content that young people can access it alters the views of what relationships can look like. This can lead to aggressive behaviours and false ideologies of what relationships should look like. These ideologies further perpetuate the ideas of slut-shaming and further promote a sexualized society.
If we look at Halloween costumes, it is clear that the holiday has become oversexualized for females. For example, searches for teenage girls we find the following results:
As compared to Halloween costumes for teenage boys:
Strange how different these two searches can be.
However, as a privileged white, straight, male I recognize that I have privilege, and am essentially at the top of the chain. However, it is important to change these hierarchal views. As an article from the Huffington Post states, “sexist Halloween costumes are the beginning when it comes to discrimination girls and women face over a lifetime.
I feel as this video shows the vital lesson of young boys can grow up to be powerful, and do what they want. “And girls grow up to be… cute.” The video shows some of the privileges that a person has just by being born male.
How do we combat this? We need to teach young boys what respect is. We need to teach girls that they do not have to act, or dress sexy to receive the attention. Far too many teens have been affected by bullying and have committed suicide from sharing an inappropriate photo that had gone viral. As educators, it is not our job to be censor police, but as David Wees tweets:
I’m in favor of internet filters. I just want to move them from the router to my students’ heads. #edcamplbc
— David Wees (@davidwees) November 17, 2012
It is not our place as educators to be “Morality Police” to police what students wear, view actions outside school. However, it is our place to instill opportunities for students to think critically, as well as provide students opportunities to see themselves in positive representations in curricular content. As well as addressing the elephant in the room, the hidden curriculum and how that affects students’ learning.