ART BY ANNA MACIAS
By CHARLEY JACKSON
Recently, Hollywood has been run amuck with sexual harassment claims. Whether it’s the movie industry or music business, no one is exempt from the dangers of the entertainment industry. So that bears the question: Why is sexual harassment continuing to grow as an issue in our society?
It is a common tendency of the media to hypersexualize young actors and actresses, despite their young ages. For some reason, the fact that they are on television or in movies makes it acceptable to talk about them in a sexual manner.
One possible explanation is that people are desensitized to the fact that actors are real people, not just characters. However, this mentality is detrimental to society, because it enables pedophilia and perpetuates rape culture.
The hypersexualization of young actors encourages pedophilia in the real world. By seeing these young people being praised by media outlets and society in a sexual manner, the idea that calling a teenager “sexy” is acceptable is wrongly reinforced.
For instance, child actresses are praised for their good looks rather than their acting skills and craft, immediately teaching them that looks will always be valued more than raw talent. While that may not be the intention, it is the responsibility of the media to be cautious as to how they present certain topics.
For example, Finn Wolfhard, an actor on the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, has become the most recent victim of society’s hypersexualization, after receiving comments from a 27-y-o model who told him to “call her in four years.” While this may seem like harmless humor at first glance, a 27 year old implying any type of romantic or sexual attraction towards a 14 year old is disgusting and should not be taken lightly. If this had happened to a normal child, people would be furious. However, because he is a celebrity, society ignores this act of sexual harassment and dismisses it as mere humor.
Why is the media so insistent on sexualizing children? The fact of the matter is that sex sells in our society. From school dress codes to the way popular clothing brands market their clothes to children, hypersexualization affects all aspects of our society.
For instance, most schools justify their dress code policies towards young girls by saying “but boys/parents/teachers will get distracted.” This implies that adults can not control the way they act around children and places blame on the child. This continual chain of victim blaming only further damages our societal views of right and wrong, and perpetuates predatory culture.
This, in combination with the way the media portrays children, enables sexual predators and encourages bystanding. While many know that these mannerisms are wrong, hardly anyone speaks out about this trend. Even worse, no one listens to those who do. Society’s choice to blissfully ignore these issues only furthers the problem.
While some may say that the media’s comments and approaches to marketing are not meant to be taken seriously, the effects of these actions remain the same nonetheless. The detrimental effect that takes place almost unknowingly shapes our society into one with skewed values.
Ultimately, the way the media portrays children creates an unsafe environment for all adolescents, regardless of gender or age.