Sexualisation’s four faces: sexualisation and gender stereotyping in the Bailey Review

Barker, Meg and Duschinsky, Robbie (2012). Sexualisation’s four faces: sexualisation and gender stereotyping in the Bailey Review. Gender and Education, 24(3) pp. 303–310.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/09540253.2012.660136

URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0954025...

Abstract

This paper explores the considerations of sexualisation, and of gender stereotyping, in the recent United Kingdom government report Letting Children be Children. This report, the Bailey Review, claimed to represent the views of parents. However, closer reading reveals that, whilst the parents who were consulted were concerned about both the sexualisation and the gender stereotyping of products aimed at children, the Bailey Review focuses only on the former, and dismisses the latter. ‘Sexualisation’ has four faces in the Bailey Review: it is treated as a process that increases 1) the visibility of sexual content in the public domain, 2) misogyny, 3) the sexuality of children, and 4) the mainstream position of ‘deviant’ sexual behaviours and lifestyles. Through this construction of ‘sexualisation’, gendered relations of power are not only hidden from view, but buttress a narrative in which young women are situated as children, and their sexuality and desire rendered pathological and morally unacceptable as judged by a conservative standard of decency. Comparison of the treatment of sexualisation and gender stereotyping in the review is revealing of the political motivations behind it, and of wider discourse in these areas.

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