How about the sexualization of boys?

Much popular attention is given to the impact that our culture has on girls. But I wonder about the impact it has on boys? Boys certainly don’t escape cultural definition of what or how they should be. There is a pervasive cultural assumption that all adolescent boys want to have sex all the time – and I know many of you are saying, “Well they do!” But that is sexualizing boys by the definition presented as sexualization in the APA report on girls. Not to mention, I am very suspicious of any cultural dictum that says all people from a certain group want to do anything all the time.

About Karen Rayne

Dr. Karen Rayne has been supporting parents and families since 2007 when she received her PhD in Educational Psychology. A specialist in child wellbeing, Dr. Rayne has spent much of her career supporting parents, teachers, and other adults who care for children and teenagers.


  1. As a former adolescent boy, I can say that sex does tend to dominate the idle thoughts of most young males. I’m don’t think that boys are sexualized to the same degree as girls, nor as early, but they do receive a whole package of gender messages – men are strong, dominant, sexually agressive, powerful, etc.

    I think Power, not sex, is the main idea that is pushed on boys. Men are powerful. To be a man, you must be powerful. Agressive sexuality is just one of the ways that adolescent boys try to express their sense of power.

  2. As a social worker, I work today with many adult males and we talk about sexuality, today and in the past and how it manifests in their lives. Many of these men tell me that sexuality did not dominate their thoughts EXCEPT as far as they believed it was the sociatal expectation that it WOULD dominate their thoughts and therefore, they felt less than because it did not. I belive this dynamic has increased in the years since these men were adolescent boys and that this dynamic does our young men a grave disservice that can only be undone with lots of talk about sexuality and expectations.

  3. I was abused when I was 12 years old in 1961. So do the math. To this day even after 20+ years of psychologists and psychiatrists along with different meds, I still have a low self esteem, my mental maturity level is way back somewhere. I never felt comfortable around anyone who was my age or even much younger. Part of me has always felt like a kid and I have missed out a lot in life. My job performance suffered. I have little to no coping skills and I get overwhelmed so easily. I hate being this way and I hate that this has intruded into my life for 50 years. I was robbed of an innocent childhood. There is a long list of side effects from what happened when I was 12. I never acted out on anyone. I never told anyone about what happened to me until I was 38 years old and that was to a minister. He wasn’t much help. I told my parents when I was 41. The only thing that was said to me was by my dad who said, “We don’t think any less of you”. I didn’t know for another ten years that that was not a good response. I am retired now and don’t feel like an old guy even though I see one in the mirror every day. We only get one chance in this life. It would be great to have just one do over. I wouldn’t go to that d**n YMCA summer camp.

  4. (My web site is very adult so if you are offended please do not view it). I was sexualized at a young age. No, I was never sexually abused, I was 11 and my cousin allowed me to see him masturbate. This was a turn on even though I was not ready to be sexual.

    The next year at 12, I had a close male friend teach me how to masturbate. By the time I was 13 he had taught me about oral sex. So as a teenager I was sexually active from the age of 14 on with 2 or 3 of my male friends.

    Now middle aged and having been married for over 25+ years, I do not feel that this did me any harm.

    In fact, when other teen age boys would act too aggressive or were inappropriate with girls, I was more relaxed.

    As a teenage boy between 14 and 19 I masturbated every day.

    Hope my comments help. Like your web site and found it.

    With my own children, I have been very open to discuss sexuality without giving up too much of my own sexual history.

    Now that my wife is in full on menopause, masturbation is my only sexual outlet.

    Communication is the key in sexual relationships.

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