Girls taught to value sex over achievement and intelligence
TEENAGE girls would rather be sexy than clever, according to a new book which blames celebrities such as Paris Hilton, Christina Aguilera and Britney Spears for the phenomenon.
Carol Platt Liebau, a leading political commentator in the US and the first female managing editor of Harvard Law Review, warned young women were being taught to believe "sexy" equates to empowered.
The author said "promiscuity and sexual aggression" were now being seen as the only way to achieve admiration.
And she suggested girls now competed for attention based on how much they were sexually willing to do for boys.
Women's groups last night also warned that the sexualisation of young girls was making them increasingly vulnerable.
Ms Liebau's book, Prude: How The Sex- Obsessed Culture Damages Girls, blames the music and videos of Spears, Aguilera and Lil' Kim, as well as films such as Cruel Intentions, for making teenagers value sexuality above all else.
She said: "The overwhelming lesson teenagers are now learning from the world around them is that being 'sexy' is the ultimate accolade, trumping intelligence, character and all other accomplishments. In a culture that celebrates Paris Hilton [and] thong underwear, there's scant modesty or achievement that isn't coupled with sex appeal. Girls are being led to believe that they're in control when it comes to sexual relationships.
"But they're actually living in a profoundly anti-feminist landscape where girls compete for attention on the basis of how much they are sexually willing to do for the boys. And living in an overly sexualised culture takes a toll on girls."
A spokeswoman for Rape Crisis Scotland said the sale of products such as junior pole-dancing kits was particularly concerning.
She said: "We are concerned about the over-sexualisation of children and the effect it has on women and girls' self-esteem. Young women do experience a lot of pressure to have sex."
A spokeswoman for Scottish Women Against Pornography said:
"It's setting young women and girls up as targets. It's a backlash to any sense of women's achievement. The idea that this is sexual liberation is just re-branding the same oppression."
Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy in London, said the influence of TV, the media and Hollywood had made society more focused on personal appearance.
But he added: "I think the problem is exaggerated. Nature wishes you to breed, so sexuality has always been there. What's wrong with being intelligent and taking care of yourself? But if you are just trading on your sexuality, the big question is what are you going to do when you lose your looks?"
• Prude: How The Sex-Obsessed Culture Damages Girls is released later this month.
PARIS HILTON: ONLINE NOTORIETY AND A JAIL TERM
PARIS Hilton shot to fame when her home-made sex video appeared on the internet.
The hotel dynasty heiress has since fronted various TV shows. She was jailed earlier this year for driving under the influence of alcohol. She has also feuded publicly with the actress Lindsay Lohan.
BRITNEY'S CONTROVERSIAL KISS-OFF
BRITNEY Spears, whose first taste of the limelight came on the wholesome Mickey Mouse Club, has never been far from controversy in recent years. She locked lips with Madonna at an awards show in 2003 and was snapped without any pants on before losing custody of her two children earlier this year.
AGUILERA'S DIRRTY MOVE
CHRISTINA Aguilera's "girl next door" image vanished as she was transformed into a raunchy singer in the video for the 2002 hit single Dirrty.
She has been hailed for "making pregnancy sexy" after posing with her naked bump for a magazine.
LIL' KIM: X-RATED LYRICS, OUTRAGEOUS OUTFITS
LIL' Kim is best known in the UK for performing on the Moulin Rouge soundtrack hit Lady Marmalade in 2001 alongside Christina Aguilera.
Her songs have achieved notoriety for their X-rated and sexually upfront lyrics and her outrageous outfits have raised eyebrows.
How much blame can be placed on the media? Should we also be looking at the home and school environments? Is their value and empowerment in claiming - or reclaiming - your own sexuality if you're a teenage girl as opposed to a "grown" woman?