Sociologist Anastasia Powell from La Trobe University has said that the sexualisation or pornification of society — the preponderance of sexualised imagery in media, music and other popular culture— has done little to empower young women.
Powell interviewed 117 teens and young adults for her PhD and her book, ‘Sex, Power and Consent: Youth Culture and the Unwritten Rules’, which explores how Generation Y is coping.
And she found that young people are far better informed about sexual health issues, including contraception, and the rates of teenage pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases are lower.
But, young women still risk being branded a 'slut' if they are too open about their sexuality and needs.
'Some things have improved in terms of women's equality but we're still hanging on to a whole range of gender norms; ideas about men, women and sex that still place young women in situations when they experience pressured or unwanted sex and sexual assault,' a major newspaper quoted Powell as saying.
'I wouldn't say it's any easier for young women today. We used to talk about the dichotomy between being considered a slut or frigid and that still absolutely applies,” she added.
Melbourne psychologist and sex therapist Sarah Calleja says the bombardment of sexual imagery and concepts through music videos and other media was giving young girls the message that anal sex is common and oral sex is no longer even first base and was encouraging boys to be aggressive sexually.
Cyber safety expert Susan McLean says sexting - the sending of naked images, almost always of young women, by mobile phone - and other inappropriate sexual behaviour was widespread in Australian schools.