How the Media Shape Young Women's Perceptions of Self-Efficacy, Social Power and Class

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This book addresses the interaction of the media, sexuality and self-efficacy in teenage women. In doing so, it is also inclusive of class and power issues and the perceptual reactions of young women to an increasingly sexualized media. It includes a combination of qualitative and quantitative research examining the interaction of self-efficacy, as individual empowerment, with sexualized media imagery. It demonstrates how sexualized images projected by advertising, and the media in general, are perceived as power by adolescent females. Power is defined as self-efficacy or a personal power. Sexualized imagery proved to be an indicator of perceptions of both empowerment and a stratified class structure, with the more sexualized the imagery, the higher the perception of both self-efficacy and high social status or class. The book provides an in-depth exploration of young women’s perceptions of sexuality and power. Additionally, the book examines sexualized imagery from a historical standpoint and as a component in adolescent sexual development.


“ ... Dr. Baldwin positions her analysis of advertising’s portrayals of female sexuality historically and within the larger framework of commodity culture to explain present-day practices. Sensitive to the developmental shifts in adolescence and guided by feminist theory, Dr. Baldwin explores the link between advertising images that define sexuality as the most significant source of female power and adolescent girls’ responses to that advertising ... As we consider the experience of adolescents today, especially the experiences of girls, we must ask how to disentangle the equation between sexuality and power, and privilege other sources of power for young women.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Christine M. Bachen, Santa Clara University

“This book navigates through feminist theories and media practices to illuminate the hidden contours of advertising, sexuality and the market forces that have cemented a merger between the two. Importantly, Dr. Baldwin updates our understanding of what lies beneath the provocative surfaces of contemporary advertising and its impact upon young women from diverse backgrounds ... Dr. Baldwin holds forth the hope that, through education and renewed inquiry, we can inoculate ourselves – and our youth – from the perils of media messages that would transform audiences into their own slickly constructed images. This book makes a significant pioneering leap toward that goal.” – Professor Meta G. Carstarphen, Oklahoma University

“This book represents a multi-dimensional, long-term exploration by Dr. Baldwin on the role of sexualized imagery in advertising and commodity culture. Her focus is on how power is perceived by adolescent girls as they are exposed to the images and mythologies of mediated representations that purport to represent a feminine ideal ... This book balances the impressions of young women as they attempt to navigate sexualized imagery with an articulate and incisive grounding in research that begins to explain it. Dr. Baldwin’s own research is grounded in legitimate questions concerning the roots of personal identity and the formation of self for girls that are bombarded by fantasy images ...” – Professor Jean Trumbo, University of Nevada-Reno

Table of Contents

Foreword by Christine M. Bachen
1. Stolen Souls
2. Media Studies
3. Historical Periodization of Sexualized Media Imagery
4. Feminist Theory and Sexualized Imagery
5. Media’s Role in Adolescent Sexual Development
6. Quantitative Research: Effects of Sexualized Imagery on the Perceptions of Power among Different Groups of Adolescent Females
7. Qualitative Research: The Stories They Tell – Qualitative Analysis of Young Women’s Perceptions of Power and Class in Sexualized Imagery
8. Education and Resistance to a Market Driven Sexuality

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