If media images communicate that sexual exploitation is neither serious nor harmful, the environment is being set for sexual exploitation to be viewed as trivial and acceptable. —TV’s Newest Target: Teen Sexual Exploitation study
A new Parents Television Council study titled "TV’s Newest Target: Teen Sexual Exploitation" reveals alarming trends about the frequency with which young female characters are depicted in sexually exploitative situations on scripted prime-time programming.
“If media images communicate that sexual exploitation is neither serious nor harmful, the environment is being set for sexual exploitation to be viewed as trivial and acceptable,” the study stipulated. “Results from the present study show these seemingly innocent jokes and remarks often revealed underlying attitudes toward women masked under the pretense of lighthearted humor. Also, the study revealed the frequency with which sexual humor is used to communicate beliefs and perpetuate offensive narrowly defined female stereotypes among underage girls.”
The report specifically found “the likelihood that a scene would include sexual exploitation was higher if the female characters were young adults or younger” and “sexually exploitative topics targeting underage girls were more likely to be humorous (42.9 percent) compared to adult women (33 percent).”
Parent Television Council’s new study considered six types of sexual exploitation: sexual violence (child molestation and rape), sexual harassment, sex trafficking, prostitution, pornography and stripping. The study found that depictions of sexual exploitation was intended to be humorous 37 percent of the time, with stripping (65 percent) and pornography (66 percent) the types of exploitation most often associated with comedy.
Data for “TV’s Newest Target: Teen Sexual Exploitation” was culled from 238 episodes of scripted prime-time programming totaling 194.5 hours that appeared on broadcast networks during the two-week sweeps periods in November 2011 and May 2012.