Commentary

Girls Gone Good?

More from the media-creates-horndogs meme–this one focuses on the fear that all those celebritarts are turning young girls into slutty Paris Hilton clones:

“Role models” like amateur porn star Paris Hilton and her underwear-challenged cohorts Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan are prompting more and more young girls to “go wild,” but with negative consequences. Mental health experts say more and more youngsters are being influenced by the “sexualization of girls,” a term coined in a report released earlier this year by the American Psychological Association. The research analyzed the content and effects of virtually every form of media, including television, music videos, music lyrics, magazines, movies, video games and the Internet. It also examined recent advertising campaigns and merchandising of products aimed toward girls. What they found was a sort of “Girls Gone Wild” effect in which young girls are succumbing to the pressure of sexualization by posting nude pictures of themselves on the Internet, allowing boyfriends to photograph them in the nude and making their own amateur porn videos. “The consequences of the sexualization of girls in media today are very real and are likely to be a negative influence on girls’ healthy development,” said Eileen L. Zurbriggen, PhD, chairwoman of the APA Task Force and associate professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz, earlier this year in reference to the report.

No doubt the naughty exploits of Brit, LiLo, Paris, Nicole, and company can have a corrupting influence on some girls, but stand back a bit and most seem surprisingly well-adjusted. Here’s Reason’s Kerry Howley:

The Guttmacher Institute, which researches sexual health, reports that the teen pregnancy rate in 2002, the latest year for which data are available, was at its lowest level in three decades. Between 1998 and 2002 the teenage abortion rate dropped 50 percent. In 2002, 13 percent of girls had had sex by age 15, down from 19 percent in 1995. Women are 56 percent of college enrollees. Girls have made such strides that conservatives in search of a cause (and an excuse to target feminists) have dubbed the reverse gender gap the “War on Boys.”

Good news parents–your girls haven’t gone wild. And they’re less likely to be victimized:

Rape has plunged since the 1970s. The U.S. Justice Department’s National Crime Victimization Survey estimated that 105,000 women were raped in 1973, compared with 30,000 in the latest survey. All indicators of sexual violence are down, and the decrease is most dramatic among younger women. In the last 12 years, according to the DOJ survey, sexual victimization rates have fallen 78 percent.

Ted Balaker is an award-winning filmmaker, journalist, and founding partner of Korchula Productions, a film and new media production company devoted to making important ideas entertaining.

Ted is the director of Can We Take a Joke?, a Korchula Productions feature documentary about the collision between comedy and outrage culture featuring comedians such as Gilbert Gottfried, Penn Jillette, Jim Norton, Lisa Lampanelli, and Adam Carolla. Ted is producing Little Pink House, a Korchula Productions feature narrative about about Susette Kelo's historic fight to save her beloved home and neighborhood. The film stars two-time Academy Award nominee Catherine Keener (Capote, Being John Malkovich, The 40-Year-Old Virgin) and Emmy nominee Jeanne Tripplehorn (Big Love, The Firm, Basic Instinct).

Ted produced the award-winning shorts The Conversation and Cute Couple. He is an executive producer on the feature documentary Honor Flight, and produced the film's first trailer, which attracted more than 4.5 million views. The Honor Flight premiere attracted an audience of more than 28,000 and set the Guinness World Record for largest film screening in history.

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Ted graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of California, Irvine with degrees in political science and English.