Over-Sexualization of Women Sees Rise in Teen Group Sex?

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    (Photo: SCA Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget/Wikimedia Commons)
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By Ravelle Mohammed, Christian Post Reporter
January 2, 2012|8:57 am

Sexuality in the media – provocative images of women in movies, magazines, and on the Internet – lends the perception of females as "objects," observers have been insisting for years. Now, a new study has found a strong link between exposure to pornography and a startling trend among young adults, with one in 13 teen girls having engaged in group-sex.

Over 7 percent of the 328 females surveyed admitted to having "multi-person sex" (MPS) and more than half of them were reportedly coerced. Emily Rothman, a Boston University School of Public Health researcher, found that participants who had viewed pornography were five times more likely to engage in MPS than their counterparts who had not.

Researchers found a "strong association between exposure to pornography, having been forced to do things that their sex partner saw in pornography, and MPS."

Teresa Tomeo, radio host of "Catholic Connection" and author of Extreme Makeover: Women Transformed by Christ, Not Conformed to the Culture, told The Christian Post that the direct correlation between pornography and the increased rates of group-sex was "heartbreaking, but not surprising" given the prevalence of sexually explicit material.

"The facts and the research are overwhelming," she shared. "Especially the connection between violence and sexual content in terms of children’s behavior and what young people watch and consume."

"What is happening should be a real wake up call," Tomeo warned.

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Catherine Helmer, a New York City teacher, shared similar sentiments, saying that a large part of student teaching was observing students in social situations.

"By eighth grade, everyone is either talking about sex, reading about sex, or even having sex," Helmer told CP of her observations. "They all participate in a pervasive culture of sex and sexuality."

"It’s not wrong to be aware of one’s sexuality in the teenage years, but it is wrong to engage in sexual acts that involve pressure or force," she stated. "It’s no wonder that they are hyper-aware of sexuality, it is ubiquitous in mainstream pop culture."

The study also revealed that one-third of group-sex participants used drugs or alcohol, however half of those girls reported that they were forced – "indicating that they were 'liquored up' or drugged" by their partner. Rothman and her colleagues also found that the females, ages 14-20, who had MPS were more likely to report cigarette smoking, dating violence victimization, or contracting a sexually transmitted disease.

According to Tomeo, the media alone should not be blamed for its influence on such behavior, but to "ignore" the connection would be "silly."

"[Many] times it does have to do with peer pressure," Tomeo stated. "And sometimes I think parents aren't taking enough responsibility and taking control of the media outlets in their homes – allowing their children unmonitored access to these different technologies.”

Researchers found that the average age of the first MPS experience was 15.6 and that for most, it was a one time encounter. However, 21 percent of the group had multiple group-sex experiences. The study also reported that 45 percent of MPS participants reported no condom use by a male partner.

Tomeo pointed out that this study revealed there is a lack of "understanding the dignity of the human person."

"[This] is why the faith components are so important, because Christianity gives us the idea that we are all created equal in the image of God – male and female," she shared. "It’s very sad that girls are in some way forced into thinking this is normal behavior."

The motivational speaker suggested looking at the Boston University study as an example of what happens when "we lose sight of what sexuality is meant to be." When talking about the view of abstinence in a hypersexual world, Tomeo said, "As Christians we don’t necessarily have to quote Scripture when we’re trying to reach someone who is unsure."

"As Christians we need to use science, because it all goes back to God," she insisted. "Faith and reason are not separate. If sex is just something that is recreation then why is there so much misery attached to it? Why are women being over-sexualized [and] objectified?"

"We have to keep talking about things."

Tomeo's book, Extreme Makeover, discusses ways in which women are affected by culture. Tomeo urges parents to be their child’s primary educators, especially in the area of faith.

"You have to do what you can to raise them in a strong Christian home," she said. "You have to plant those seeds and keep [nourishing it]."

She added, "You can only control a certain amount. Once they go out into the wide world the best thing you have to do is help them discern the messages of the media. Because [society] is just over consuming everything and media is at the top of that list."

Helmer, however, insisted that abstinence-only education has serious flaws and that young adults need to be educated. "Students need to know what to do if they decide to engage in sexual acts. treating them as if they’re going to be abstinent until 18 is doing a disservice to them," she shared.

Although critics question the effectiveness of federally funded abstinence-only education, a study published in 2010 found that such programs are helpful. Dr. John B. Jemmott III, the University of Pennsylvania professor who led the study, revealed that specific cases of abstinence-only education – which did not criticize contraceptives or advocate abstinence until marriage – were "effective in delaying sexual debut among younger teens."

According to Tomeo, A lack of invincibility seen in many teens – the sense of there being "no consequences to my actions" – is due in part to an adolescent’s brain not being able to properly discern. The author shared that many psychologists say the part of the brain that senses fear and can cognize does not fully develop until the late teens to early 20s.

This is another reason why this study is an important example of how important it is for parents to understand and take seriously what the media exposes their children too, she told CP.

On the other side, Tomeo said the most important advice she leaves with teens is:

"Even though you’re young and the whole world is in front of you, the decisions that you make now are really important – because they could affect you in the long term."

This research was published in the Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine and surveyed teens who had gone to a Boston-area community or school-based health clinic. The full study can be read here.

ravelle.mohammed@christianpost.com
@ravmo
 

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