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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » 'Sex Sells!' criticism and thoughts

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Author Topic: 'Sex Sells!' criticism and thoughts
SnailShells
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In my current English class we read excerpts from a book called Sex Sells!: The Media's Journey from Oppression to Obsession. I had high hopes for the book, but alas, all the chapters we read were were pretty lacking, and the chapter on Cyberporn was flat out disappointing. We have a relatively short class time to discuss the book and I had a lot I didn't get to say and kept thinking about, so I'm getting it all out here [Smile]

As I said, i had problems with the cyberporn chapter for several reasons. The first problem I had was the treatment of fetish in cyberporn. Streitmatter gave two examples of fetish porn; a summary of a foot fetish porn flick and a site dedicated to hairy, large gay men known in slang as "bears". He used negative language and was even derogatory toward foot fetishist, making them out to be weird and calling it "laughable" in the view of us 'average' folk. Not only are feet and "bears" pretty tame and common as far as fetishes go, but for goodness sake, I challenge anyone to give me a porn script that ISN'T laughable and bizarre and just a little creepy. And calling someone's fetish "laughable" isn't very progressive, Mr Sexual Literacy.

The next thing that bothered me was a section of the chapter called 'Gratifying Pedophiles'. The first big thing is that this section doesn't actually address pedophilia (sexual attraction to prepubescent children) or even child pornography; instead it only rambles for a short while about how some sites use women who look very young "in pigtails that are generally connected with prepubescent girls" and young men who look like they're on the wrong side of the age of consent, with "peach fuzz" on their upper lips. While these are interesting and important to bring up, the author fails, and fails hard, to even mention the very scary and very real world of child pornography, the digital market for it, and the horrifying exploitation and abuse of children therein. Why and how he managed to skirt around this important and all too relevant issue is beyond me.

The third thing was the blame he puts on porn. For all his talk on the importance of "sexual literacy", he sure was quiet about it in this chapter. Not once does he mention that scripted porn is the enactment of fantasy, and the importance of being able to separate this fantasy from the realities of sex. Instead, he cries about how porn does not show safe sex, how it degrades women (and how the Womens Rights movement failed to fully reach porn...what) and how it's misleading to men in regards to what women like and what they're willing to do in the bedroom. While all these are arguably true, he fails to mention the possibility that people should, or even CAN, get their sexual education and information outside of porn or the mainstream media. So many of his statements seem to back up his idea that you need to be a masters in communications (or at least read his entire book) to be 'sexual literate' or at least aware. Nothing annoys me more than an author who treats his audience and their peers as though they were born yesterday, and Streitmatter is very good at that. He doesn't mention feminist porn or porn that isn't red-blooded-hetero-male oriented. He doesn't mention (and I think this is crucial when discussing cyberporn) how home made sex tapes, whether it's made by teenagers or married or now divorced or whatever couples, are winding up online for the world to see, and the ramifications of that, personally and culturally. He also spends a good deal of time going over the famous Janet Jackson nip-slip. Besides the fact this has almost nothing to do with cyberporn, except for it continues the 'eroticism and porn is always bad news for women' theme he has going, Jackson's scandal example positively pales next to Pairs Hilton. Paris Hilton was a virtual unknown pre-sex-tape. But once that tape was released/leaked, she was all over the place and a household name. And while I can say that her voice gives me a headache, Hilton is not stupid; she took advantage of her place in the public eye and ran with it, marketing herself quite successfully. Her popularity is dying down now but I believe she still has a television show and a perfume or two at Macy's or something. Arguably Ms Hilton was able to use her role in a sex/porn scandal and used it to her advantage, and made quite a chunk of money off of it too. So in her case at least, the sex tape was a sort of career maker rather than dampener.

Last thought: I noticed a lot of people in my class see (or at least claim they see [Wink] ) porn as "disgusting"; a girl said she thought foot fetishism was "gross". When everyone involved--watcher included--is a fully informed and consenting adult, I personally don't have a problem with porn.
The foot fetish thing brought up something for me, though. If you search "feet" on YouTube, you get about 400,000 results. A fair number of the results are videos of girls massaging their feet, painting their toenails, wiggling their feet in pantyhose, taking off socks, squishing food with their toes, arching their feet, etc. These seem pretty silly and a little "What is this?" to me, but for a foot fetishist I'm sure they can be considered very erotic, and that's no coincidence with the number of such videos and the amount of views they have. Is the only reason we don't consider these videos pornographic is that we don't generally consider the foot an erotic part of the body, like we do breasts and butts?

I may think of more later, lemme know what you think [Smile] And again, I have not read the entire book, only excerpts thus far.

--------------------
I thank God I was raised Catholic, so sex will always be dirty. --John Waters

Posts: 206 | From: Bay Area, CA | Registered: Oct 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Ecofem
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Hey SnailShells,

I just wanted to say that you wrote such good criticism there and included so many good ideas... where do we start! [Wink] I can't reply more now but I'd be glad to talk about this more later... would you be ok with picking out one section to start things off, because I think that'd help get things started for others if you're looking to discuss these great points with others. [Smile]

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LondonBlue
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I'm just going to run with one aspect of this for now.

quote:
Originally posted by SnailShells:

The foot fetish thing brought up something for me, though. If you search "feet" on YouTube, you get about 400,000 results. A fair number of the results are videos of girls massaging their feet, painting their toenails, wiggling their feet in pantyhose, taking off socks, squishing food with their toes, arching their feet, etc. These seem pretty silly and a little "What is this?" to me, but for a foot fetishist I'm sure they can be considered very erotic, and that's no coincidence with the number of such videos and the amount of views they have. Is the only reason we don't consider these videos pornographic is that we don't generally consider the foot an erotic part of the body, like we do breasts and butts?

I think you hit the nail on the head here. If more of us were foot fetishists, I think those videos would violate YouTube's terms of service. They can only be so plentiful because most of us don't find them erotic. The weird thing is that foot fetishism is extremely common by fetish standards, so you'd think someone would have caught on by now.

Perhaps there is also an issue here of intent versus consequence: it seems clear that the makers of these videos intend them to be viewed erotically, but many of us don't get a sexual thrill out of them. So that tells me that the Powers That Be care more about the reaction I get out of a video than what the maker of it intended. Not sure what that means, but it's an interesting thought!

Posts: 96 | From: West Coast USA | Registered: May 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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