Objectified Self, Objectified Relationships: The Sexualization of Childhood Promotes Social Injustice

  • Diane E. Levin
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 3)


Today’s media and commercial culture use increasingly extreme gender stereotypes, sexualization (especially designed for young girls) and violence (especially designed for boys), to capture children’s attention in order to sell them things. These practices undermine many of the positive lessons we hope children will learn about social behavior, caring relationships and social justice. In this situation, girls learn to judge themselves, and boys learn to judge girls, as objects based on how they look and what they can buy. This contributes to “compassion deficit disorder”—objectified relationships and reduced levels of sensitivity and empathy towards others. In this situation, children are more likely to be perpetrators and victims of social injustice. There is much adults can do at family, school and community levels to counteract the harm being caused and teach alternative lessons. There is also much to be done at a policy level to reduce the exploitation of children by media and marketers and better promote the development of positive relationships and therefore, social justice among people.


Eating Disorder Sexual Harassment Gender Stereotype Sexualized Childhood Commercial Culture 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Wheelock CollegeBostonUSA

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