9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN23 Sexuality

2009-09-04 09:00:00 2009-09-04 10:30:00 Friday, 4 September 09:00 - 10:30 Sexuality Across the Life Course Building I, 1E8

Sexualised girlhood. Trend or aberration of socialisation process - Polish and European perspective

I intend to describe the phenomenon concerning sexualisation of girlhood in the context of changes which have been taking place within the approach to sexuality and the increase in our interest in this field.
The sexualisation of girlhood is treated here as a distinctive feature of changes occurring in girls' reality and aberration of socialisation that concerns ascribing to girls, (by themselves and their social environment) inadequate for their age and the stage of their psychosexual development, sexual meaning and functions.
The purpose of this paper is to find an answer to the question whether sexualisation of girls is only an ephemeral social phenomenon and a short-lived trend, or rather a tendency which will become an integral element in the girls' world.
The problem has been illustrated by the results of my research carried out among girls in Polish Gymnasium. The sample included girls at the age of 15-16. I aim at presenting this phenomenon in a broader European context.
Dealing with sexualisation of girlhood means at times describing girls' everyday lives, in which sexualisation becomes an alarming and ubiquitous phenomenon. Sexualisation requires clarifying and coming up with an appropriate terminology together with a diagnosis and description. Unfortunately, the character of this phenomenon does not facilitate its in-depth examination and therefore, is a reason for dilemmas and difficulty which have to be overcome by a researcher who decides to go into this matter. Difficulties are caused by a lack of standards in defining sexualisation as such, sexualisation of girlhood, and girlhood itself. It is also impossible to avoid methodological problems and dilemmas of ethical nature.
The paper includes my respondents' answers which illustrate the sexualisation phenomenon and statistical data from other countries. The method used enables to answer the question of the reasons for sexualisation. It allows to examine individual cases. Owing to the in-depth interviewing, I managed to illustrate the fact of mixing the two categories of girlhood and womanhood, which can be regarded as a paradox of emancipation. I also succeeded in presenting the course of the game which the culture of consumption plays with girls.