We live in a time where a lot more women can literally be anything they want and aspire to be, and this has been a big societal shift.
However, a recent study has revealed that while young girls know the power the hold, they feel objectified as much as they feel empowered.
The study was done by The State of Gender Equality for U.S. Adolescents and it shows that girls are incredibly career-driven (with 75% of the girls agreeing that having a successful career is important to them), yet at the same time, they feel more objectified.
According to an article in Nylon.com, the study reveals that "girls see their own intelligence and strength as their most important qualities, but they can see that the society they live in places the most value on their bodies."
Clinical psychologist, Jaco van Zyl, explains that young girls do experience objectification and that they are affected by it. "Courtship is part of adolescent behaviour," he says. "Unfortunately because of this sexualised culture, it tends to take the shape of objectification. For boys then to engage in this courtship as prescribed by pop culture, they tend to fall into this behavioural pattern of objectification, as if that is the norm."
This perception then affects girls accordingly.
"There is a conflict between external expectations and their need to be accepted by the outside world; and from the inside, also: discovering themselves and wanting to be respected as a person," Jaco says. He explains that this conflict creates a burden for young girls in other areas of their lives because being objectified (or sexual appeal) becomes a set of rules by which they feel they need to play in order to succeed.
This burden, Jaco adds, would most likely discourage them from engaging in a certain endeavour, seeing that one of the requirements of that endeavour would not only be merit but also sexual appeal. It heightens the conflict within them, and it is even worsened by the mismatch in values - in other words, what they value and what society expects of them, he says.
Below are only some of the results from the study conducted with teens between ages 10 and 19.
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