Sexualisation' has been dismissed by some as no more than yet another moral panic about youth and sex. However, it is striking that the term appears to have helped galvanise feminist activism, speaking in some way to the experiences of young people. Building from a history and analysis of the term, I propose that sexualisation' has served as an interpretive theory of contradictory gender norms, using the figure of the girl' to gesture towards an intensifying contradiction between the demands that young women display both desirability and innocence. In addressing sexist dimensions of gender norms through the figure of the girl', a minor, discourses on sexualisation can help circumvent liberal objections about free choice. However, I also express concern that the term has facilitated a focus in media and policy texts which attends less to gender inequity than to sexuality as a contaminant of young femininity.