21st century feminism

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Sexualisation of Young People: Linda Papadopoulos' Research

Dr Linda Papadopoulos published her research in to the sexualisation of children and young people, commissioned by the UK Government, in February. I didn't get round to blogging about it at the time, but to be honest I hope this research will be talked about for a while, and I know I certainly will be referring to it in the coming months. You can read a pdf of it here. It is a sterling piece of work and I'm slowly digesting it. If you've got the time, it is worth a read (or if not, pages 1-16 will give you a good summary of the rest of the document). I am hoping that her work wont just get put on a dusty shelf in Westminster and forgotten. She particularly highlights: 
  • young people's lack of awareness of gender equality
  • the insidious presence of unreal body images
  • the increasingly accepted sexualisation of children and young people
  • and the availability of, exposure to, and increasingly extreme nature of pornography.
For me one of the key recommendations she makes is the improvement of the formal education of children and young people in gender awareness, and not only this but the increase of education and support for teachers to tackle this subject. I have felt for some time that the UK curriculum fails to properly instill a healthy and developed critical awareness of matters of gender, feminism and equality and have been surprised at young people reaching graduates level with little or no understanding of what is without doubt one of the most significant discourses of the twentieth century. In this particular area she recommends,

1) All school staff to have training on gender equality. Specialist training should be given to those who teach Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education and citizenship.

2) The Department for Children, Schools and Families (DCSF) to issue statutory guidance to schools to promote a ‘whole school’ approach to tackling gender inequality, sexual and sexist bullying and violence against women and girls.

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