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Scottish Agencies Challenge Sexualisation

Press Release from Zero Tolerance and the Women's Support Project

Launch of a new short film challenging the the pornification of mainstream youth culture.

What: Launch of a new short film and resource pack challenging the sexualisation of young people in Scotland, with input from police, activists and young people

When: Tuesday 21st June, 10.00am – 12.30pm Where: Albany Centre, Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector, 44 Ashley Street, Glasgow G3 6DS

Available: Preview of film (EMBARGOED until 7.30am 21st June 2011) http://vimeo.com/24917787 Password: 10.06.11_wsp_pvsp; Mp3 of the music track (email info@zerotolerance.org.uk); Stills from film (email info@zerotolerance.org.uk)

Interviews: Linda Thomson, Women’s Support Project and Laura Tomson, Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust; 8.30 – 9.15, 21st June in the Albany Centre. Coffee and croissants provided. Unfortunately due to capacity the event itself will be closed to press.

Contact: Laura Tomson, Zero Tolerance 0131 624 8957 /, Linda Thompson, Women’s Support Project 0141 552 2221 / 07708504136

Parents, activists and representatives of children’s organisations will meet on 21st June 2011 in Glasgow to challenge the sexualisation of young people in Scotland.

The new film Pleasure vs. Profit: Growing up in Pornified Scotland, which highlights the damaging impact of sexualisation and pornography on children and young people, will be launched at the event.
From advertising to music, computer games, TV, films and clothing, sexualised imagery is everywhere. The recent Bailey Review flagged up yet again the growing worry about the effect this is having on our young people; Pleasure vs.Profit is one of the first resources to make clear the connections between the pressure on young people to be sexual and the ongoing ‘pornification’ of our culture, which objectifies women and portrays men as predatory sexual aggressors. 58% of 12-15 year olds have seen pornography on the internet1, and the porn industry is very deliberate in its targeting of the next generation of paying customers.

The results for young people can include distorted body image, unrealistic expectations of sex and increased vulnerability to grooming and trafficking. A 2007 study linked sexualisation with three of the most common mental health problems of girls and women: eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression2. For both boys and girls, frequent TV viewing and exposure to pornographic material lead to greater acceptance of sexual harassment3.

Detective Chief Inspector Gordon Dawson of Central Scotland Police, who appears in the film, is well aware of the connection between easy access to pornography and abuse: “Boys start off with the lads’ mags when they’re at school, which are really quite sexually graphic in their content... you’ve got guys in their 20s exploiting young people because they’ve been through all the pornography that’s on the internet.”

Linda Thompson from The Women’s Support Project highlights the impacts on both young men and young women saying, “This is not about demonizing young people nor denying them access to good quality information on sex and relationships. Too often they turn to porn for ideas and tips, without understanding that the porn industries are based on inequality and exploitation. Young men are affected but in very different ways to young women, with narrow ideas of what masculinity must be in this culture.”

Laura Tomson, Prevention Worker with Zero Tolerance, said “It’s not enough to say to a 14 year old girl that she should value herself for more than her sexual attractiveness – but that as soon as she reaches 18 society can objectify her in any way it wants. We need to start making the connections between the sexualisation of young people and the growing spread of sexist and violent porn values into every aspect of our culture. Children and young people don’t grow up in a vacuum – their culture is ours, and we need to lead by example.”

The young people interviewed for the film have a clear idea about what they would like to happen next. Emma, 14, said: “More people need to become aware; instead of just opening a magazine and skipping through going ‘oh it’s quite funny’ they need to look at it and say ‘no - look at the message it’s giving. Look at the position they’ve got her in and the position they’ve got him in’. Girls are just as smart and intelligent - so why should they feel like they’re no better than an object?”

Pleasure vs. Profit was developed by The Women’s Support Project and Zero Tolerance Charitable Trust in response to growing concern from parents, professionals and young people about the influence of pornography on Scottish culture. It provides information and tools for addressing the issues and challenging the hold that porn has over our society. The film and information pack make it clear that to be anti-porn is not to be anti-sex. It is perfectly natural for young people to have an interest in sex, but they should be allowed to develop and explore their sexuality safely, at their own pace. As adults we need to ensure that healthy values of respect, consent and mutual pleasure are the ones young people grow up with. Pornography promotes a narrow, sexist, aggressive version of sex; it’s time for Scotland to stand up for pleasure, and say no to porn.

Notes to editor
Film developed by Zero Tolerance and the Women’s Support Project. Information pack developed by the Women’s Support Project with support from Zero Tolerance.
Interviews with Linda Thomson of the Women’s Support Project and Laura Tomson of Zero Tolerance will be available from 8.30 to 9.15 on the day of the launch. Unfortunately due to capacity the event itself will be closed to press.

1. UK Children Go Online, Economic and Social Research Council (2005)
http://www.citizensonline.org.uk/site/media/documents/1521_UKCGO- final-report.pdf
2. American psychological Association (2007) http://www.apa.org/pi/women/programs/girls/report.aspx
3. Strouse, J.S., Goodwin, M. and Roscoe, B.: Correlates of attitudes toward sexual harassment among early adolescents, Sex Roles, Vol. 51: 559-577 quoted in Sexualisation of young people review, 67.




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