Perspectives of Sexualization

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.


Bratz dolls. These gals can NOT sit down without causing a stir. Image courtesy of

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.

haram magazine images

Magazines in general are notably absent here in Oman. Probably because of their focus on sex.

haram gangnam

Gangnam style! These sexual poses are not OK, despite these depictions of women being pretty well-covered.


One thought on “Perspectives of Sexualization

  1. I can see why those images are considered to be too sexually suggestive for young women, Dr. Gowen. Though the women in the images are fully covered, the looks on their faces and the way they have posed their bodies are not the way women act in their normal every day life. The facial expressions especially, are quite seductive. Yes it is minimal in comparison with all that our young people are barraged with in the states, but I see why those images are not wanted over there.

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