This post will be brief for it will serve two purposes. One is just to share what it’s like here in Oman (that’s what I have been doing of course), but the primary reason is to provide some information and insight to my students in my online Women’s Reproductive Health (WRH) course based out of Portland State University (hello there, and welcome!).
This week, our WRH topic is “Growing Up Female,” where we cover issues such as puberty, and access to reproductive health services when one is under 18. Yes, it’s a lot to cover, but what else can you do in a survey course? Note: I would LOVE to teach a whole course on adolescent sexuality some day. Not likely given my current career choices, but you never know…
The question that kicks off our online discussion is: “How does the phenomenon of early sexualization of girls in the US impact healthy pubertal development, and ultimately a woman’s reproductive health?” This question is inspired by a 2007 report on the Sexualization of Girls from the American Psychological Association; the report found “the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development.”
It’s easy to find examples of this early sexualization in girls throughout the US. Thong underwear being marketed to children, popular song lyrics that graphically reference oral sex, and dolls that look like this are all easily a part of a girl’s upbringing in the United States.
So, what’s it like here, in a country where sexual conservatism runs high?
I attended a college event on consumer protection. The following items were featured in a display showing things that were considered inappropriate for young-adult women because of their overly sexual nature. I’ll have more to say about them later, I’m sure. But for now, just check them out and consider how different it is here. Better? Worse? You decide.