Media Panics or Media Overreactions?

A prominent ‘media panic’ in society today is the sexualisation of children in the media. Images such as the example below have many worried that due to today’s exposure to the media, children are growing up too fast. This raises issues about the representation of children, art & pornography, censorship and the concept of childhood.

However it becomes blatantly clear who is missing from this debate. Males. It is not a secret that there is an attitude towards girls and women that they need to be ‘pure’ whereas there is no such social construct for men. A good example of this is the dress codes of schools in North America and other nations which outline that girls should dress in such a way to cover their knees and bra straps. The idea surrounding this is to suggest that girls will be a distraction to the boys. This message is greatly problematic as it tells girls that they are merely objects to men and if they want to protect themselves from men then they should cover themselves up. Females have picked up the double standard as men aren’t told to cover up and have fought back their oppression both in online awareness and in their schools.

There is much emphasis and blame put women in the media for exploring their sexuality. In 2013, Miley Cyrus and Robin Thicke performed together at the VMA’s. The moment the media and the rest of the world remembered was Miley Cyrus twerking up against Robin Thicke. The internet instantly responded to the performance calling Miley a “whore” and “slut”. However, a counter argument also began to question why Thicke wasn’t receiving any hate when he was an older man whom was married and a father. There is this suggestion that women are not allowed to explore their sexuality without being slut shamed but men are applauded. This all plays into rape culture. The organisation Women Against Violence Against Women have a great article which explores the this problem in society.

Whilst in many cases the use of young girls depicted in sexualised ways is truly disturbing, there needs to be a greater condemnation of those who sexualise images that do not have the aim of being sexualised. Furthermore, women in general should not be depicted as sex objects and should be treated with the same standards as men.

This semester my eyes have opened up to the world of the media.The theories such as the public sphere, media ownership, semiotics and media effects have led me to understand that the media has a greater role in our lives than previously thought. In particular, the theory of media effects in regards to how the media can influence the behaviour of the audience. It quickly became clear that it is rather how the audience uses the media and the level in which they are influenced. This also plays into semiotics, media ownership and the public sphere about how it revolves about the messages the individual receives from images

Stay classy,

Tracy Bustamante



3 thoughts on “Media Panics or Media Overreactions?

  1. The sexualisation of children in the media is not an issue I had thought about previously, however, looking at the first picture you have posted it is evident that children are being depicted in an “adult way.” From the clothing to the pose of the young girl, it does have a sexy almost flirtatious connotation to the image which is quite disturbing considering the child is so young. Initially, I thought the sexualisation of children might fall under the “moral panic” category best defined by Krinsky (2013) as ‘an episode, often triggered by alarming media stories and reinforced by reactive laws and public policy, of exaggerated or misdirected public concern, anxiety, fear, or anger over a perceived threat to social order.’ However, after becoming more aware of this issue I do not think it is media causing alarm, I think the media is the problem and society is genuinely anxious and simply voicing their concerns. I believe this issue is real and current and should be recognised to stop the future exploitation of such young children. It is also interesting that you’ve pointed out the fact that males are noticeably absent from this issue, or most issues for that matter. Although we have come a long way, we are still living in a world of gender inequality. I have also written about the issue of violence against women, thanks for your link to the article exploring this issue.

    Krinsky, C 2013, The Ashgate Research Companion to Moral Panic, Charles Krinsky (ed.), Ashgate, United Kingdom


  2. A very interesting take on the issue of sexualisation in the media. I completely agree with your argument about the sexualisation of women, and the double standards of men not having the same social pressure put on them. The recent example of Karl Stefanovic’s secret protest by wearing the same suit for a year is a great example of this in an Australian context (here is the link for reference:

    While I disagree with the generalisation that men are entirely exempt from this bias, I do agree with the fact that women in general face more of these judgements on a daily basis as opposed to men. The image you included of the “sexualised” young girl at the beginning of your post addresses this quite well. Although some parts bordered on bias, I believe these elements of your personal voice in the post, make this quite a powerful response.

    Keep up the great work!


  3. Really informative and interesting post. I personally agree that the amount of body-shaming and inequality on women from a really early age is ridiculous, and the whole situation becomes more complicated when you sexualise children such as those in Toddlers and Tiaras, and then when they grow up, tell them to cover up… the whole situation seems really hypocritical and unfortunately, I don’t see it coming to an end soon. Campaigns such as #freethenipple (more on that here: among others lead massive social movements, which down the road could help reduce the gap in gender inequality.

    I really enjoyed the point you brought up about Miley Cyrus, in terms of a woman being shamed for exploring sexuality, while a man is seemingly commended, it can be likened to those situations so many of us witnessed in high school. A big party the night before, and everyone is talking about what a great night it is. You hear about a girl who hooked up with a lot of guys, and you get remarks about how much of a slut she is, however a guy walks in, talking about how he got with 8 different girls, and he gets surrounded, being told he’s a “legend” and immediately being asked who they were, and in a lot of male social circles (especially mine in high school), the guy who gets with the most girls is de-facto “king”. These are the types of social dynamics that NEED to be eliminated, and the fact that you brought that up in this discussion is really awesome.

    Besides all that, I really enjoyed the other parts of your blog and had a blast reading this. Anyway, here’s a really interesting report on gender inequality in Hollywood, something that apparently is still rampant:

    Keep up the awesome posts!


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