Sexual education vs. sexualizing children

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Sexual education vs. sexualizing children

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There's a lot of confusion about the difference between sexualization and sexuality, and actually they're very different things. We're all sexual beings from birth, and that's to be celebrated. Sexuality is a good thing. Sexualization is both the process and the result of turning people into objects, into things. So when people are sexualized, they're made to feel that their physical attractiveness equals their worth and they're passive objects rather than agents of their own sexuality. Sexualization is certainly not sex education. It's in a way the opposite as well. We need more honest, open information about sex in this country and not less. The United States is the only developed country in the world that doesn't teach sex education in its schools. And people sometimes think, "Well, I don't want my kid to get sex education." But kids are getting sex education, but they're getting it from the media, from the popular culture. And when they do get it in school, it often teaches them that sex can hurt or kill them, but it doesn't say anything about relationships or intimacy or about connection or pleasure or joy. So the problem isn't sex, the problem is the culture's pornographic attitude towards sex and the way in which sex education is given to our kids through the popular culture, not in any honest, accurate informative way.

See Jean Kilbourne, EdD's video on Sexual education vs. sexualizing children...

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Jean Kilbourne, EdD

Author & Social Theorist

Jean Kilbourne is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. Her films, lectures, and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world. She was named by The New York Times Magazine as one of the three most popular speakers on college campuses.

She is the author of the award-winning book Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel and So Sexy So Soon: The New Sexualized Childhood and What Parents Can Do to Protect Their Kids. The prize-winning films based on her lectures include Killing Us Softly, Spin the Bottle, and Slim Hopes. She is a frequent guest on radio and television programs, including “The Today Show” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She has served as an advisor to the Surgeon General and has testified for the U.S. Congress. She holds an honorary position as Senior Scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women.

According to Susan Faludi, “Jean Kilbourne’s work is pioneering and crucial to the dialogue of one of the most underexplored, yet most powerful, realms of American culture —advertising. We owe her a great debt.” A member of the Italian Parliament said, “Hearing Jean Kilbourne is a profound experience. Audiences leave her feeling that they have heard much more than another lecture, for she teaches them to see themselves and their world differently.”

She has received many awards, including the Lecturer of the Year award from the National Association for Campus Activities. A more unusual tribute was paid when an all-female rock group in Canada named itself Kilbourne in her honor.

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