Research on pre-teen experiences of sexism receives national press attention

New research carried out by Professor Emma Renold on the views and experiences of pre-teen boys and girls growing up in a sexist society was launched last week, receiving national press attention.

Commissioned by the NSPCC and the office of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, ‘Boys and Girls Speak Out: A Qualitative Study of Children’s Gender and Sexual Cultures (Age 10-12)’, addressed the absence of young people’s own experiences in public concern and media debates surrounding sexism and sexual harassment.

The research received widespread coverage in the newspapers and online. It was featured in the Telegraph by women’s journalist Louisa Peacock and the story appeared on BBC Wales News, ITV Wales News, S4C youth programme ‘Ffeil’, Real Radio, Capital Radio, Western Mail, South Wales Echo and South Wales Argus.

The research report has also been blogged about by renowned international Dutch scholar Professor Linda Duits and has had more than 130 downloads on the first day of being uploaded onto Professor Renold’s site.

Students from Ysgol Plasmawr reading their poem at the launch of the research

Students from Ysgol Plasmawr reading their poem at the launch of the research

Not only was this the first study of its kind to be carried out with young people in Wales, but the research findings were interpreted by students from Ysgol Gyfun Plasmawr who created a poem on the sexual objectification of girls’ bodies and a short drama piece on the pressures of compulsory heterosexuality in children’s friendship cultures. The poem and the drama were performed at the launch event in the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay, in front of AM’s, policy-makers, practitioners, other academics and senior staff from NSPCC and other third-sector organisations.

Professor Renold will be working closely with the National Assembly for Wales’ cross party group ‘Childhood Sexuality, Sexualisation and Equality’ to inform future policy development and resources for practitioners over the coming year. The research was cited by Baroness Maggie Jones ahead of the proposal to the House of Lords (January 28th 2014) to amend the Children and Families Bill to make sex and relationships education (SRE) compulsory in all state-funded schools.

The poem (Mis(s)een) is below. The poem  has also been printed in the Telegraph!

To find out more about the research and its key findings, the Executive summary and full report can be viewed via this page. Boys and Girls Speak out


In one day we can hear

‘you’re fat’, ‘faf’, ‘slag’, ‘nice legs’, ‘nice bum’, ‘grown up’, ‘mature’, ‘cool’, ‘sexy’, boom’, ‘oy’, [wolf whistle], ‘slut’, ‘beautiful’, ‘hi ya princess’, ‘stuck up’ …

Our bodies are commented on, all day long,

With media telling us how to look, from zero size models and what not to wear, hearing a wolf whistle from an old guy in the street,

Can make you feel appreciated and downgraded

Uplifted and insecure

at the same time

Our bodies, commented on, all day long

Feeling good, feeling bad

It’s awkward, it’s hard.

Commented on, all day long

Wanting to tell someone, but nothing’s going to change

When you do tell someone, nothing does change

All day long

If we could press a button, would we want it to stop?

When we get value for how we look?


How would it feel to be free of this?

What would it be like to be valued for what we do, not how we look?

Bright, free spirit, funny, feisty, caring, independent, clever, bubbly, understanding, creative, outgoing, sporty, determined, radical, adventurous,

These words make us feel good

How do they make you feel?

Are we just bodies?

Just bodies?