Media en peers: seksuele partners of blijvende relatie? Het moderatie-effect van peernormen op het verband tussen seksualiserend mediagebruik en seksuele attitudes bij adolescenten

Gaëlle Ouvrein
MEDIA EN VRIENDEN: SEKSUELE PARTNERS OF BLIJVENDE RELATIE?De wisselwerking van media en vrienden op seksuele attitudes bij jongerenGeregeld wordt er gesproken over de ‘seksualiseringstrend’ bij de jeugd. Seks met meerdere partners, schaamteloze vriendengesprekken over intieme ervaringen en de wens om liever model te worden dan advocaat, zijn niet meer enkel de hoogtepunten uit het leven van tv-sterren. Steeds meer lijken deze gedragingen ook deel uit te maken van het zorgeloze, seksueel avontuurlijk leven van de huidige jeugd.

Media en peers: seksuele partners of blijvende relatie? Het moderatie-effect van peernormen op het verband tussen seksualiserend mediagebruik en seksuele attitudes bij adolescenten

MEDIA EN VRIENDEN: SEKSUELE PARTNERS OF BLIJVENDE RELATIE?

De wisselwerking van media en vrienden op seksuele attitudes bij jongeren

Geregeld wordt er gesproken over de ‘seksualiseringstrend’ bij de jeugd. Seks met meerdere partners, schaamteloze vriendengesprekken over intieme ervaringen en de wens om liever model te worden dan advocaat, zijn niet meer enkel de hoogtepunten uit het leven van tv-sterren. Steeds meer lijken deze gedragingen ook deel uit te maken van het zorgeloze, seksueel avontuurlijk leven van de huidige jeugd. De media wordt geregeld met de vinger gewezen, medeverantwoordelijk zijn echter ook de vrienden. Maar wat gebeurt er indien deze beide sturende krachten in een wisselwerking treden met elkaar? Kunnen vriendennormen het media-effect overtreffen?

SeksualiseringDe digitale generatie spendeert een grote hoeveelheid tijd aan de consumptie van massamedia. Via deze weg worden zij weliswaar gebombardeerd met seksuele verwijzingen. Seksualiteit is uitgegroeid tot een van de basisingrediënten van een aantrekkelijk en succesvol televisieprogramma,1 muziekclip,2 tijdschrift3 of videogame.4  De frequentie van deze seksuele afbeeldingen kent een stijgende trend overheen de jaren. Sommige cijfers hebben het over een verdriedubbeling van de seksuele toespelingen sinds 2000.5 Het totaalpakket aan seksuele media-informatie gaat bovendien erg ruim. Zo leren jongeren bijvoorbeeld dat het voor jongens geen probleem is om meerdere seksuele partners te hebben, terwijl dit voor meisjes negatief bestempeld wordt, een fenomeen bekend als de ‘dubbele standaard’.6 Tienermagazines leren hoe meisjes hun ondergeschikte rollen het best kunnen vervullen door hen te overstelpen met informatie over schoonheid, mode en diëten zodat zij hun uiterlijk kunnen perfectioneren.7 De adolescentie is een belangrijke periode voor de (seksuele) identiteitsontwikkeling. Bijgevolg is dergelijke informatie bijzonder welkom en wordt deze gebruikt als richtlijn voor volwassen seksualiteit.1

Meisjes die regelmatig naar meisjessoaps zoals Sex and the City kijken bijvoorbeeld, leren dat vrouwen seksobjecten zijn en dat hun waarde voornamelijk afhangt van hun seksuele aantrekkelijkheid.8  Hoewel het Vlaamse media-aanbod slechts seksueel tintelend genoemd kan worden in vergelijking met het Amerikaanse spectrum, blijkt ook in Vlaamse context sprake te zijn van een seksualiserend media-effect. Het lezen van tienerbladen, het verslaafd zijn aan muziekkanalen of het kijken naar modellenprogramma’s dragen er allen toe bij dat jongeren een grotere seksuele acceptatie vertonen. Zo vinden deze jongeren onder andere dat seks zonder liefde geen probleem is. Daarenboven vertonen zij tekenen van zelf-objectivering: ze schenken meer aandacht aan de geïdealiseerde modellenlichamen en vinden uiterlijk voorkomen belangrijker dan jongeren die zelden dergelijke programma’s bekijken.

Deze zelf-objectivering mondt niet zelden uit in psychologische problemen zoals lichamelijke ontevredenheid,9 eetstoornissen, depressie en verminderd zelfvertrouwen.7  Daarenboven voeren zij een innerlijke strijd met heel wat negatieve gevoelens waaronder angst, schaamte of zelfs afgunst.10 Dit alles kan vervolgens een obstakel betekenen voor de persoonlijke en academische ontwikkeling.11  Dergelijke gevolgen kunnen behoorlijk ingrijpend zijn in het huidig en toekomstig leven van tieners. Men hoort zich terecht de vraag te stellen welke factoren er, naast de media, aan de basis liggen van deze seks en lichamelijk georiënteerde wereld waarin de jeugd lijkt te vertoeven?

Seksuele opvoedingDat de media haar (vierde) macht laat gelden bij het tot stand brengen van dit geïdealiseerde plaatje valt moeilijk te ontkennen. Het aanduiden als hoofdverantwoordelijke lijkt echter nogal kort door de bocht. Ligt de seksuele en relationele opvoeding van tieners niet in eerste instantie in de handen van de ouders? Ja in theorie, nee in de praktijk, want net daar knelt het schoentje. Ironisch genoeg leven we in een wereld die doordrongen is met seksuele toespelingen. Praktisch elk magazine, tv-programma en muziekclip slaat geld uit dit thema, maar een educatief ouder-adolescent gesprek over seksualiteit is nog steeds een no-go. Indien deze volgens sommige ouders weliswaar, dan toch plaats vinden, verlopen ze stroef en oncomfortabel.12 Deze ongemakken dragen ertoe bij dat jongeren op zoek gaan naar andere seksuele informatiebronnen, waaronder de media, maar ook hun vrienden.13

Vriendschappelijke conversaties over seksualiteit worden vaak gekenmerkt door een open geest en humoristische toon14 en blijken bijgevolg niet zonder risico te zijn.15 De ene vriend schept op over zijn vroegtijdige relationele of seksuele ervaring waarop de anderen op zoek gaan naar nog straffere verhalen. Op die manier ontstaat de kans dat zij onder indirecte druk van de vriendengroep stappen ondernemen waar ze nog niet klaar voor zijn.16 Voor Vlaamse jongeren behoort seksualiteit echter zelden tot de favoriete gespreksonderwerpen voor de leeftijd van 16 jaar, waardoor de expliciete tekenen van de seksualiseringstrend dan nog beperkt blijven.

De wisselwerking van vrienden en mediaZoals reeds werd aangehaald spelen zowel de media als de vrienden een rol in de seksuele ontplooiing. In de realiteit verloopt deze ontwikkeling echter niet enkel via de media, of enkel via de vrienden, maar treden beiden in een wisselwerking. De volgende stap in de kennis over dit seksualiseringsfenomeen betreft dus de impact van vriendennormen op het gekende media-effect: Kan de ingesteldheid van de vriendengroep het media-effect in positieve of negatieve zin veranderen?

De combinatie van een open seksuele geest in de vriendengroep en een hoge seksualiserende mediaconsumptie zou een dubbel effect kunnen genereren. Vrienden die elkaar beschermen op seksueel vlak of het thema liever links laten liggen daarentegen zouden een soort bufferfunctie kunnen vervullen en het media-effect teniet doen. Opmerkelijk genoeg blijkt de tweede belangrijkste verantwoordelijkheid echter niet bij de vrienden te liggen, want zij lijken het media-effect niet te kunnen veranderen, noch positief, noch negatief. Concreet betekent dit dat de bijdrage van de vriendengroep kleiner blijft dan die van de ‘almachtige’ media. Opnieuw moet er echter gewezen worden op het belang van leeftijd. De interesse voor dergelijk thema stijgt met de leeftijd, zo ook de vriendschappelijke uitwisselingen hierover. Het lijkt dan ook plausibel dat op oudere leeftijd de vriendennormen wél tegen het media-effect kunnen opboksen. Al blijft dit op vandaag slechts een speculatie.

Of media en vrienden een langdurige relatie onderhouden of louter seksuele partners vormen, blijft dus grotendeels onbeantwoord, maar zoals met alles het geval is, is een goed evenwicht tussen de positieve en negatieve aspecten het begin van een goede gezondheid, ook op seksueel vlak. Laten we dan ‘media en ouders: seksuele partners of blijvende relatie’, maar eens proberen?

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Master in de communicatiewetenschappen
Publicatiejaar
2015
Kernwoorden
@GaelleOuvrein
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