Living in a Sex Negative Culture

Before an American child turns eighteen, they see over two hundred thousand acts of violence and forty-thousand murders on TV but not one female nipple. So what is more obscene? (Camero, 2014).

You just need to take one glance at the cover of a magazine to know that everyone’s talking about sex and sexuality (thanks Miley Cyrus). It’s a natural part of life and it makes sense to openly discuss something that everyone will experience in their life, right? Despite this current craze about sex and sexuality, there’s still a hushed tone around discussing these things. On the other end of the spectrum, is violence. An act which is comletely unnatural, to want to hurt another person, and cause others pain and suffering. However, you don’t have to wait up past 9pm anymore to see one of CSI’s mangled corpses on your screen. These days you can turn on the 6 o’clock news and you’ll see violent acts such as the murder of two news journalists on live television, or children being killed and wounded in a school massacre. These are all important news stories, however is does raise the question of why is censoring sex more important than censoring violence?

South Africa's Cosmopolitan January 2015 issue. Source
South Africa’s Cosmopolitan January 2015 issue. Source

The answer is children and moral panic. Dr Klein explains that we live in a ‘sex negative culture’ where we tell children that sex is bad for no other reason that ‘because it just is’ (Klein, 2015). This dystopian view (Bowles & Turnbull, 2015) focuses on the harmful effects that exposure to sex and sexuality on TV can have on children. Children have always been viewed of ‘at risk,’ and therefore worth protecting of the horrific nature of a naked body, because it would destroy their childhood (Bowles & Turnbull, 2015). The University of Michigan provides an information guide for parents on children and TV watching saying ‘TV can promote risky behavior, such as trying dangerous stunts, substance use and abuse, and irresponsible sexual behavior’ (Boyse, 2010). This dystopic perspective that television is an evil thing in our loungerooms corrupting our children is contributing to this moral panic and the sense that we need to protect out children from potentially corruptive sources.

So how is the act of censorship spatial? ‘Censorship is aimed at material that is believed to be unspeakable, too private to be public’ (Klein, 2015) which demonstrates how both of an audiences private and public lives can be regulated through the censorship of something that is as ‘unspeakable’ as sex. The fact that this censorship travels beyond the media’s public eye and into our private homes directly correlates with how you would speak about sex to your family or friends. And if you’re brought up being told not to talk about it from the media, then you’re certainly not going to speak about it anywhere else.

So which is worse for our children to see? Source
So which is worse for our children to see? Source

Whilst there is still obviously a lot of concern regarding children and watching violence on TV and in video games, the question still remains. Why is it more common for children to watch a crime show and see violent acts then see something that human nature, real and something that is a big part in our society like sex and sexuality?

Reference

Bowles, K & Turnbull, S 2015, Media Audience and Place: 8 Regulating Audience, BCM240, University of Wollongong, lecture delivered 21 September

Boyse, K 2010, Television and Children, University of Michigan Health Systems, August, http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/tv.htm

Camero, C 2014, What is more obscene, violence or a female nipple?, XPress Magazine, http://xpress.sfsu.edu/xpressmagazine/2014/12/08/what-is-more-obscene-violence-or-a-female-nipple/

Klein, M 2015, Censorship and the fear of sexuality, Dr Marty Klein, http://www.martyklein.com/censorship-and-the-fear-of-sexuality/

Further Information

And it wouldn’t be a blog post without a concluding note from Mr John Oliver. This hilariously witty piece looks at how important it is to talk openly about sex in a safe and judgement free environment.

The City of Beauty, Fashion, Morals and Of Course… Sex

Sex & the City is the modern woman’s answer for a bible. It offers us guidance, reassurance, faith, the promise of redemption and stresses the importance of red wine. Whilst it was only last year that I watched the epic 6 season girls guide to life, I have since seen every episode about 3 or 4 times and each time it gets better and Big-ger (hehe get it?) So here is what the four women, Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Miranda can teach each and every one of us, and yes boys, you included.

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Being single can be fabulous – For a long time, we were all told that the ultimate goal in life is to get married and have kids. Then we can live a fulfilled life baking cakes and picking our kids up from soccer practice. Well those ideals can f*ck off right back to the 1950’s. These days being single doesn’t mean you’re unattractive, unwanted or undesirable. It means you’re taking time for yourself. Giving yourself the time, love and attention you deserve. We’re allowed to explore ourselves, discover what we want and allowed to have standards and expectations. Being single gives us more time to ourselves, to be ourselves.

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Love and relationships are difficult and confusing – even if we do happen to find someone, it’s bloody difficult. There’s unspoken social rules that need to be followed, expectations, thoughts, experiences, when to call when not to call, Facebook likes… these days there’s so many things that interfere, distract and can get in the way of relationships. There’s so many complex relationships; Carrie and Mr. Big, Carrie and Aidan, Miranda and Steve, Charlotte and Trey, Charlotte and Harry, Samantha and Smith, Samantha and everyone… but regardless of their relationships and connections, they kind of make you feel like any sort of relationship or ‘thing’ you have going on in your life, is kinda normal.

“They say nothing lasts forever …dreams change, trends come and go, but friendships never go out of style.” – Carrie Bradshaw

Friendship will overcome all things – True friends are friends for life. They’ll be with you through thick and thin. Regardless of time or distance, when you need someone to talk to and hold you, your best friends will be there. Through a break up, a bad life choice, a broken fingernail, they’re there for you. The best things about having girlfriends is that you can tell them anything and everything. They’ll never judge you and always be there to give you advice and paint your nails with.

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Fashion is everything darling! – Unfortunately guys, I’m not sure you’ll ever understand the age old struggle of having a wardrobe full of clothes and nothing to wear. Don’e judge us if we take 20minutes or 2hours to get ready, we just want our outfit to match our confidence and inner beauty!

There’s no such thing as a normal *insert noun here*- relationship, penis, date, face, vagina, man, woman, dress… All the different escapades the girls get up to kind of justifies anything you have going on in your life.

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Sex is sex – Sex is a natural part of life which for decades has been smothered by taboo and secrecy. But Sex & the City, true to its name, destroys all sexual stereotypes and taboo. We talk openly about love, life, friends and family, why not sex?

Every woman has a little bit of Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte and Miranda in them- Samantha is a confident, strong, successful, sex crazed woman who sleeps with a new man every episode and always offers the blunt truth. Charlotte is an innocent and hopeless romantic woman who dreams of a fairytale happy ending. Miranda is a cynical strong lawyer who has questionable fashion choices but is a loyal friend. And Carrie, the slightly annoying pushover whose kryptonite is the man she keeps running back to. And me? Well I like to think I’m a bit of a Carrie and Samantha.

We’re all beautiful people who deserve the best and nothing less than butterflies!

xxx A

Why 50 Shades of Grey Isn’t As Sexually Revolutionary As Everyone Thinks

50 Shades of Grey, the 2011 erotica trilogy that stormed our book shelves and was then turned into a soft porn film on Valentines Day in 2015. The film was received in one of three ways;

  1. I love it and it’s great for feminism, sexual expression and the modern relationship,
  2. I have no opinion because I don’t want to get involved, or
  3. This is twisted and a step back for feminism as it glorifies domestic and sexual violence and is disgraceful.

‘Suddenly, he sits up and tugs my panties off and throws them on the floor. Pulling off his boxer briefs, his erection springs free. Holy cow! … He kneels up and pulls a condom onto his considerable length. Oh no … Will it? How?’ – 50 Shades of Grey

Whatever your view of the phenomenon, what is quite surprising is that the whole concept of love, sex and desire is nothing new and has in fact been written about for hundreds of years.

Nearly 100 years ago, the world was having the same reaction to D.H Lawrence’s 1928 novel ‘Lady Chatterly’s Lover.’ The book tells the tale of Lady Chatterly (Constance) having a passionate affair with her gardener (Oliver) and emphasis is placed on Constance’s need for physical awakening. This book being released in a time where a flash of the knee was considered unacceptable was quite incredible. Extreme censorship and suppression of this book occurred due to worries that it would greatly impact society. Which is exactly what happened, contributing to the sexual revolution of the 1920’s.

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‘His body was urgent against her, and she didn’t have the heart anymore to fight…She saw his eyes, tense and brilliant, fierce, not loving. But her will had left her. A strange weight was on her limbs. She was giving way. She was giving up…she had to lie down there under the boughs of the tree, like an animal, while he waited, standing there in his shirt and breeches, watching her with haunted eyes…He too had bared the front part of his body and she felt his naked flesh against her as he came into her.’ – Lady Chatterly’s Lover

It is personally surprising that an audience in the 21st Century was sent into such a state of shock when 50 Shades is nothing more than poorly written fan fiction based off of Twilight! Whilst their was definitely rejection occurring in the 1920’s to Miss Chatterly, it overall inspired a sexual revolution and contributed positively to women’s rights and sexual expression. Whereas I’m not too sure if 50 Shades of Grey made as big of a contribution to society.

This comparison demonstrates the direct effect that media and communications can have on society and even influence and promote change. It is this importance which allows us to acknowledge the immense power of the media and why we should be active in consuming it and why the study of the media should be continued.

Further Readings

50 Shades of Grey compared to Lady Chatterly’s Lover: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/booknews/9453636/Fifty-Shades-of-Grey-It-wouldnt-make-Lady-Chatterley-blush.html

References

Garica, J. 2012, ‘Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review’, Review of general psychology : journal of Division 1, of the American Psychological Association16.2 (2012): 161–176. PMC, accessed 16 April 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3613286/

10 Things I ‘Learned’ From Lena Dunham

Having smashed through the hilariously witty novel ‘Not That Kind of Girl,’ I just had to share with you how incredibly f*cking awesome it is and the 10 things I have ‘learned.’

Get it and get it now
Get it and get it now

1. Lena is ridiculously talented. Actress, director, writer, and independent strong women who don’t need no man (or woman for that matter). Her humble success seeps through the pages of this book and episodes of her TV show ‘Girls,’ injecting me with drive and excitement that I too one day could accomplish great things.

2. Even though there’s no such thing as ‘normal,’ Lena makes all of your bizarre, morally incorrect, questionable and somewhat insane ideas seem, well… normal.

3. You deserve nothing less than the best, especially when it comes to relationships. All those little doubts that we have in our mind about ourselves are absolutely obliterated by the following passage.

“Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It’s something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated.” 

4. We don’t need to confine to labels. Whether it be single, in a relationship, gay, straight, bi, happy, sad, anxious, crazy, fat, skinny… as soon as we assume one of these labels, it leads us to subconsciously act and think in a certain way relating to that label. Lena discusses her ‘girl crush’ and how she hates using the term because it implies inferiority to other crushes or relationships. But the fact of the matter is, that happy people can have sad days, straight people can be attracted to someone of the same sex, and even though it’s hot at 30degrees outside, it can still rain.

5. Confidence is the most timeless fashion you can wear.

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6. Girls have quite a lot of shit to deal with at any one time. She splits her book up into various parts addressing issues like; body image and self confidence, sex, sexuality and relationships, family and friends, careers and pursuits and everything in between. If anything, this book is an ode to women and all that we can do and are capable of doing/dealing with at any one time.

7. Challenge yourself! Because great things don’t happen to you in the warmth and familiarity of your comfort zone.

“It’s not brave to do something that doesn’t scare you.”

8. Break ups are tough and there’s no easy or right way to do it. Having just dealt with a break up of my own, it’s hard to come to terms with the whole concept of love, being single again and just readjusting to a life without that someone special. Whilst I was the one who ended things, my heart felt just as broken. However, Lena made me feel brave and empowered that I had put my heart and emotions first and that ultimately was taking control of who I wanted to be and where I wanted to go. It was an absolutely terrifying experience but at the end of the day, I know it’s for the best for both of us and that a few months from now I’ll be able to look back on that relationship with fond memories.

9. Keep on writing and keep on telling my story. I sometimes feel a little hesitant to write, let alone call myself a writer of any description because I guess sometimes I don’t feel qualified to write about the sort of things I do or that I haven’t had enough life experience. But the thing is that everyone has a different perspective on something, different values and different experiences which shared with the world, can contribute to a better understanding of one another.

“There is nothing gutsier to me than a person announcing that their story is one that deserves to be told, especially if that person is a woman. As hard as we have worked and as far as we have come, there are still so many forces conspiring to tell women that our concerns are petty, our opinions aren’t needed, that we lack the gravitas necessary for our stories to matter. That personal writing by women is no more than an exercise in vanity and that we should appreciate this new world for women, sit down, and shut up.”

10. Each and every one of you reading this is beautiful. I think this is an idea that will take a while to fully internalise, but it’s definitely growing on me. After finishing this book, with a smile on my face, I had an amazing realisation that I am me. If someone doesn’t like that, that’s not my problem at all. I feel like I’ve discovered a new found self confidence where I’m not afraid to let the real me show and flaunt my flaws.

So I hope this has inspired you to run down to your local book shop and devour her tasteful words.

xxx A