Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Extra Credit: Sex Crimes in the Media


"Having Same Name As Sex Offender Complicates Sweet Home Man's Life




Between fictional shows and actual news coverage, sex crimes are constantly being thrown at us through the media. Many think that this is a good thing because it is bringing people's attention to a serious problem in our society, but is the way the information presented more harmful than helpful? Shows such as Law and Order Special Victims Unit having their entire plot line deal with nothing but sex crimes. Other's like the clip from Veronica Mars add a sex crime into the plot for dramatical purposes. Then there are shows such as "To Catch a Predator" that lure men into houses under the false pretenses that they are going to have sex with minors. And of course, there is the news. The news loves to address issues that are high profile, provocative, and that will cause a rise from the viewers; like the story about Catholic priests sodomizing young alter boys. 

With recent technological developments on the Internet, it is now possible to get online and search your neighborhood to see if there are any registered sex offenders living near by and get an entire profile of their offenses: picture, physical description, when they were convicted, their type of children they target,  methods of offending, conditions and restrictions, and of course, where they live. (Check out kgw.com/crimetracker) While this can be helpful to some degree, it can also be damaging. Take artifact 2: the story of the mistaken identity of the man from Sweet Home, Oregon who's neighbors spread rumors throughout the community that he was a sex offender (http://www.katu.com/news/25465059.html). 

The show "To Catch a Predator": While I have never seen the show myself, I have conflicting feelings about it. I think that there is not enough being done on law enforcement's behalf on trying to catch these people and therefore am glad that someone is putting some energy into this. But at the same time, is it really necessary to have a reality tv show about it? A few clips that I looked at online did not block the man's face to hide his identity, which I feel is a potential legal violation because it could be argued as a violation of privacy, or possible slander or entrapment or something. I would like to make a side note about the influence of the media and the idea discussed in class about culture influencing the media and vice versa: I am a fan of the show "Without a Trace" and within the last month there was an episode about a man who was involved in a similar operation of catching predators went missing and how the Dateline show may have influenced the writers for that episode of "Without a Trace."

I think that it is important to address serious issues such as sex crimes, however I do not feel that we are doing our society any favors by just prosecuting these people and then releasing them into the world again (after they have served their time). Granted, they are required to register as sex offenders, but that isn't going to help the offender from having urges. We are only identifying a problem, and not really taking action to help prevent future problems. In fact, recent polling reflects that majority of Americans would like law makers in Washington to address the matter of rehabilitating these people, and are even willing to see an increase in taxes to help fund it (Mears et al., 2008). I also feel that while the media may mean well, and may just be trying to raise our awareness of the harsh reality of sex crimes, I don't believe we have found a balance between informing people and scaring people. 

Monday, March 9, 2009

Final Blog: The influence of pornography on popular culture

From: http://www.esquire.com/women/women-we-love/delaurentiis0807

Sometimes I blush. More often, I find myself derisively snickering at the Food network gods and goddesses after they've obviously made some ridiculous comment or facial expression while cooking in their mock kitchens. But there comes a point when you realize, hey, these are smart, wealthy business people; they've got to know what they're doing.

Of all their seemingly pollyanna personalities, Giada De Laurentiis has played the part impeccably. Kauffman explains Giada as the "resident glamazon" in her article Debbie Does Salad. De Laurentiis epitomizes the qualities the Food Network seeks in their food personalities: attractive, shapely, innocent but with another side, and seemingly Pollyanna with her word choice and facial expressions. 

Like the porn industry people, the foodies "create this sensual, lush world, begging you to be drawn into it," with their narrow sexual scripts, sex kitten hosts that are seemingly innocent but secret bad girls, tantalizing language used, and highly sensualized shots, angles and sounds. Kauffman elucidates that the popularity of these shows, like pornos is how beautifully idealized that world seems. 

Porn industry vet Barbara Nitke parallels porn and foodTV by explaining that they work to create impossibly replicable scenarios for their audiences. Gastroporn as Kauffman calls it, is incrdibly popular because "like sex porn, gastroporn addresses the most basic human needs and functions, idealizing and degrading them at the same time."

Her show aside, this picture of Giada De Laurentiis from Esquire depicts just how in the loop she really is. In her tight and low-cut virginal-white dress her hair is long and full and her makeup is flawless. The only thing that seems purposefully flawed is her dress - particularly her half-exposed breast with a splash of sauce dripping down her chest. 

Giada's posed "finger in mouth" is the quintessential Freudian phallic symbolism. Here, the use of Giada's finger is two-fold: it insinuates and oral fixation shown in pornographic media while veiling symbolism for an action that seen over and over again when chef's taste-test their food (as it drips off her hand). Nitke points out that the constant repetition and loop of shots, like the final tasting, is very reminiscent of porn.

I won't even bother to go into the obvious Freudian phallic symbolism, and how ridiculous I think it is that she's sitting in a swimming pool of tomato sauce (???). But this, like her segments goes to show that in gastroporn "reruns don't matter, and neither do beginnings, middles, or ends. "The big thing in porn is you can't have too much story line," explained Nitke. "It detracts from the sex. Same thing here. Nothing detracts form those food shots."

The popularity of both the porn and food industry is indicative that they've tapped into cultural desires and needs. Similar to mainstream media, Food Network programming teases sex but never fully "puts out." It's as if porn is there to remind us of the other aspect- the last chapter to the novella it begins to tell but never fully finished in its entirety. It's almost like a continuous wheel of self-promotion of popular media in all its forms.

From: http://flowtv.org/?p=1642

from blog:

Kim Kardashian rose to Paris Hilton-like fame after the release of her sex tapes with her then boyfriend. Before the existence of the sex tape, Kim Kardashian was just another rich girl living in California, however, following the tapes release she was tabloid fodder. Her.. ahem.. lower-half was shadowing the fame of J. Lo's famous tush and her dating like was just as closely recorded. 

Her fame launched her career and opened doors that more than likely would not have been sans her X-rated video. Since then she has been cross-marketed and commodified by everyone from her family to her boyfriends to E! network. In the picture above, Kim is posed seductively in a tight, strapless dress for her and her families reality show, "Keeping up with the Kardashians"..... And without fail, she makes sure the public gets a good angle of her backside.


Hollywood socialites turned reality stars; saw Kim as a sight (site) to commodify. "Kim Kardashian's bouts with the tabloids and other celebutante- inflicted problems take center stage in the narrative construction of the show... Following what seems to be the formula for quick fame in Hollywood, Kim Kardashian's early 2007 sex-tape scandal projected her from being another rich, L.A. girl seen with the Hilton sisters to being a rich, L.A. girl with a video of her having sex with her then boyfriend, rapper and R & B artist Ray J., being broadcasted to any interested spectator across the internet." 

Candance Haddad "Keeping up with the romp rage: E!'s commodification of Kim Kardashian's assests"

Riding the wave of body-focused publicity induced by the sex tape scandal, the show text itself presents multiple secondary plotlines that contribute to the ongoing fame-seeking narrative of Kim Kardashian aspiring to become a Hollywood sex symbol. Whatever the exact job requirements and prerequisites needed for this status are, of course, debatable.

.. Through the number of events and gigs Kim (and sometimes her sisters) are shown doing on the series, being a poster child for all clothes scantily-clad seems to be the type of job done by one aspiring to become a model and, thus, their occupational goal. Therefore, it could be said that Kim Kardashian's occupation is that of a model with a reality television show. Yet, I am hesitant to state this as her profession for it becomes apparent in the show that she is not necessarily considered a model by the industry. Kim's hesitancy with deciding what to aspire to combined with the discontentment of a number of the designers she works for - they explicitly state her non-professional model status....

.. make it clear that it is her sex-tape, rump-associated persona that gets her the jobs. Nonetheless, Keeping Up follows Kim on a number of her excursions in creating this new form of stardom. Whether the camera follows Kim who is accompanied by her mother and manager, Kris, on her photo shoot for Playboy or dropping in on her and her sisters' karate lesson, where they constantly comment on her backside and its ability to do the defense move called "the butt strike," Kim's backend blatantly plays a major role in the narrative of show.

Promotional items and appearances produced by E! for Kim and Keeping Up also promote this rump-centric discourse. With her family in the background to each of her sides, the cover of the Season 1 DVD features Kim wearing a skin tight, animal print outfit in the foreground striking her signature look-behind-the-shoulder pose - thus, ensuring that her backside takes center stage. Further promoting this idea is the supplementary website of Keeping Up found on the E! Online site. The official E! Online Keeping Up website features photos, episode synopses, computer desktops able to be downloaded, and a number of other staples of online star and television show promotional items and activities. One of the online games/ activities you cam play on E! Online's Keeping Up website is the "Take the Tush Test" quiz game. Presented with two pictures side-by-side of two different celebrity's backends, the user is asked to decide which os the two is Kim Kardashian's. After being matched up against other stars such as jessica Biel and Jennifer Lopez, the user finds out how many backends they "brilliantly branded" by choosing the "correct" tush. 

It is undeniable that E! promotes Kim Kardashian's image by constantly drawing upon the abundant and, thus, rump-centric discourse. 

It's apparent that E! is not only the business of generating rump-centric discourse and putting Kim and her assests in the leading role(s), but also draw upon familiar strategies of fetishizing the ethnic, female other through audience flattery. In these instances of comparison, it is important to take into consideration  the different ramifications and connotations this rump-centric discourse has between a Latina, second-generation Puerto Rican star and a multiracial Armenian and Irish-German star.

While further investigation and comparison is needed to make strong conclusions between the stardoms of Jennifer Lopez and Kim Kardashian, I find this association between the rump of Kim and the rump of J. Lo to be working as a way to pan-ethnicize and contain the peculiarity of Kim's ethnic identity. 

While instances of Kim's rump commentary are plentiful (I have only presented a selected set of examples produced by E!), I want to conclude by discussing the implications of this discourse surrounding the body of a mixed-race, off-white female. While conclusions can immediately be drawn by dismissing these instances of fetishizing the Other as only an effort to contain its potential threat, I want to open up potential for Kim Kardashian and her curves to be working as an active agent in pushing the status quo of white-centric beauty dominating the United States media landscape (http://flowtv.org/?p=1642#footnote_2_1642).  However, I do not want to present too optimistic of a view, for it is undeniable that Kim's Hottentot-inspiring imagery does present a problematic representation of a non-white female unquestionably under the scrutiny of the white and male gaze. Furthermore her complex form of stardom as a socialite turned sex-tape star turned reality television star struggling to articulate her role in the Hollywood limelight further complicates her agency. Nonetheless, as a multiracial woman who is only gaining in popularity with United States media, Kim Kardashian's and her body's infiltration into the mainstream media and discourse of beauty ideals should not be taken lightly. Further exploration into the continuing formation of her stardom and career in tandem with investigating the reception of her persona will further reveal the complexities and the politics of her (and her rump's) representation. 


Meredith Levande wrote in Women, pop music, and pornography, "Pornographic images are everywhere, but they did not magically appear. They are becoming increasingly more corporate and are part of a larger business model. From the auto industry to wireless services to hotel accommodations, pornographic imagery has crept into the mainstream because it is owned by everyday companies."

Advertising tells women to express themselves sexually through consumerism, psuedo-lesbianism, and marketing oneself. The marketing package unfortunately includes some pornographic undertones. In the example of Domination, one of our five elements of the crossover of pornography in the mainstream media (popular culture) we will examine the 2008 cover album of the Pussycat Dolls, entitled "Doll Domination." Part of the porn industries adult film collection includes a domination fetish. Fortunately for the Pussycat Doll's, there is a large male audience for this fetish. Something about the "tough girl" image certainly creates a fantasy for some men. 

Thanks to the Spice Girls, we see a psuedo-feminism backlash to actual feminist artists, in the "girl power" movement. The Pussycat Dolls are shown above straddling motorcycles, half dressed, with the word "domination" printed above the photo. This photo was the front cover of their 2008 album entitled "Domination." With the back arching, and male fantasy of "doing it" on the back of his bike, it is clear that there is no girl power going on in the photo, only oppressed women using pornographic images to sell their album, and declaring to teen girls everywhere that "porno-chic" is cool. To us it is a photo of contradiction. While there is a certain "toughness" allowed amongst these women, popular culture would not allow for the femininity of these women to be compromised. The costuming speaks volumes for the representation of the porn-mass media cross market. With leather, black, and just a dash of girly, what are these women trying to portray? While this photo does represent the domination element of the cross market, if also screams identity crisis. 


Katy Perry's song "I Kissed a Girl" pretty much sums up the psuedo-lesbianism element of the cross market of porn and mass media. We know she is heterosexual, and we also know we have never actually seen her kiss a girl, either in her music videos, or on stage. Always for the male gaze and fantasy, never for true lesbianism.

In the article "Twenty one moves guaranteed to make his thighs go up in flames" Depictions of "great sex" in popular magazines" authors Menard and Kleinplatz write "women tend to be portrayed as sexual objects, whose goals should be to attract and please male partners, both sexually and otherwise. There is a strong emphasis on female readers being sexually active in the service of men" (p. 3). Girls making out with girls turns into that very notion of girls being portrayed as sexual objects. Joe Francis, Girls Gone Wild director, knows a thing or two about making girls in to objects. In fact he encourages girl on girl interactions, yet the target audience is male. Katy Perry's song was a huge hit, but also a huge blow to feminism and true lesbianism. Instead we are left with young girls feeling pressured to impress the men at fraternity parties and prom by making out with her best friend. It is one thing to truly explore one's own sexuality, but when the true exploration is substituted with wanting to put one's self on display for a man or for public attention, an type of true sexual exploration has been compromised. 



Magazines constantly perpetuate the idea of the male gaze and the objectification of women. Krassas et al. states in Master your Johnson, "magazines depict sexuality, sexual attractiveness, and sexual practice in a limited way that reinforces the objectification in the male gaze" (99). The cover of the Sports Illustrated magazine is absolutely no exception. The annual swimsuit edition is dedicated to the most beautiful women (models) in the world. It's ironic that they call it the swimsuit edition, because the magazine is not selling the swimsuits at all. On this particular cover, the star Beauty, Bar Rafaeli, is on display because of her physical qualities; perfect tan, flat stomach, voluptuous breasts, and of course, the little amount of clothing she has on. However, little is known about her personal qualities, intelligence, or background. 

This is to be expected, since the concept of the male gaze is strictly based on observation. After all, it wouldn't be called the male gaze if it were anything more than a visual image. In the Brooks article entitled, The Centerfold Syndrome, the author explores the problems of centerfold models and the effects it has on society. According to him, there are five elements to the centerfold syndrome, however we will focus on just one of them: objectification. Brooks states that, "centerfold women are left devoid of real personalities, portrayed as superficial cartoon characters" (444). This cover is solely visual with no depth about her personality making her nothing more than a pretty body and face. It does not mention anything about her intelligence, or life goals. Instead, right next to her name, there is a little caption about where the picture was taken. While Ms. Rafaeli is beautiful, she is not the only woman out there. But the editors chose Bar for a reason, her success is based on her body image, not on any personal factors. 

To top it off, Southwest Airlines recently plastered Rafaeli's body on the side of some of their aircrafts. Protesting bloggers suggested the photo was pornographic, but Southwest stood by its decision to advertise for Sports Illustrated saying that is has received mostly positive feedback. This is just one more example of the partnership of mass corporations and pornographic images. While we do not feel that Sports Illustrated is explicitly pornographic, it does have multiple suggestively pornographic images seen through the male gaze. 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Critique of Gia's Blog: Week 6

With the term coming to a close, we have been asked to look at a peer's blog and critique their work. This is meant to show how each of us has grown from the class. I had the pleasure of critiquing Gia's blog; you can find her blog at: http://www.blanknirvana.tumblr.com. 

I chose to critique the blog entry from week 6 (February 11th) that addresses mediated examples of masculinity as specifically sexualized. I think that Gia did a very nice job on the images/artifacts she chose for this entry, and discussed each of them. The only critique that I could offer her would be to use the text more to support why the artifacts she chose are relevant. That said, I have chosen the first three images to examine from her blog entry from week six and add specific examples of where the text would have been useful in supporting her argument. 

The first image is of a "Sports Illustrated" magazine cover with a beautiful blonde model on the front. Gia did a nice job of addressing the concept of the male gaze, however, I feel like she could have gone into more detail and used quotes from the text to support her argument a little more. For example, I would have liked to have seen some mention of the Krassas article, which specifically talks about the male gaze: "magazines depicts sexuality, sexual attractiveness, and sexual practice in a limited way that reinforces the objectification in the male gaze while privileging white heterosexuality" (99). Also, in the Brooks article, he discusses the "centerfold syndrome." The element that discusses objectification would have made this images importance that much strong. Brooks says: "centerfold women are left devoid of real personalities, portrayed as superficial cartoon characters" (444). This quote would have worked in perfectly with Gia's comment about how the woman lacks depth, because there is no mention of her personality or intelligence. 

The second image is a picture of Donald Trump and his young wife. Again, Gia mentions the idea of the trophy wife, but doesn't go into much detail. In the Brooks article, there was an element of the "centerfold syndrome" called trophyism. Brooks explains that female bodies are trophies, that they are "living testament to a male's prowess as financial success... trophies, once won... (are) a permanent physical symbol of accomplishment and worthiness" (443). 

I struggled with the third image, because the idea of "trophy husband" does not seem to go in with this weeks particular blog assignment. Gia mentions the Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore, which would have been a much more appropriate image because both are very attractive, and in this image, the woman is not what I would consider a trophy. However, the element of men's need for validation (Brooks) would be the only thing I could apply to this. Brooks discusses how women's bodies are often a medium for validation and that the hotter a woman is, the more validation power she has (441). One could argue that having an older and more experienced woman (a cougar) validates your importance. After all, if an older woman is noticing you, you must be doing something right.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Sexual Otherness"






This week we discussed sexual otherness and the socially constructed "norm." In our culture, there are specific boxes that one can fit into and if you don't fit into the "heterosexual box," you are considered weird, different, strange, and often discriminated against. I will not go into great detail on each of the five artifacts presented here, however I will go in depth about the similarities in themes that they address.

We have briefly discussed beastiality in class; the sexual desire to be intimate with animals. The first artifact I chose was from a CSI episode entitled "Fur and Loathing." In this clip we see an interview with a suspect regarding a murder that took place during a fur-ries convention. You can see that during the interview, Catherine Willows, one of the main characters, is completely disturbed by what she is hearing. Human beings dressing up in animal costumes and having an orgy with each other is too much for her to handle, and her distaste for this fetish is apparent. It is obvious that this man does not fit into the heterosexual box that society has created and he is rejected because of it. 

In Dennis' article (Signifying same-sex desire in television cartoons) he discusses how "homoerotic desire is acceptable as long as it does not lead to a gay identity" (138). He also discusses several different cartoons from the '90s and how they showed these homoerotic desires. I chose the image of Batman and Robin because I remember growing up there was a time when boys refused to dress up as Batman or Robin because they were "gay." Granted, there is no evidence to support or disprove that they are gay, but I found the image to be striking. 

Lastly, the idea of transgender and transexual individuals. I chose the clip from Rocky Horror Picture Show and the trailer for the movie Transamerica as examples. In the Rocky Horror Picture Show clip, when Tim Curry, the transexual transylvanian, appears in front of Janet, she is so frightened by the sight of him she lets out a scream and faints. Talk about rejecting anything beyond society's norm. Also, I chose the trailer from Transamerica. In the trailer, there is a clip from the movie where Huffman's character goes back to her parents house and they tell her that she can't be there. They make it clear that her freakish lifestyle is not acceptable and therefore, she is unwanted, even by her own family. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Female Sexuality






This week we discussed feminized sexuality. There are several different stereotypes about women, and multiple different classifications of types of women. There is the idea that women are helpless creatures and/or they need to be rescued by their knights in shining armor (riding a white horse of course). There is also the idea that women are manipulative, using their sexuality to get what they want out of men. There is the idea that women are predators, hunting men down and devouring them for lunch. And finally, there is the super-mom persona, where the mom can take on everything with such ease, even the most difficult tasks don't cause them to break a sweat, while others can't get anywhere close to that perfection. All these different "personalities" make up the essence of a woman. 

The first video is a movie trailer from the movie "Stepmom" with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon that was released in 1998. For those who have not seen this film, it is about a divorced family man who gets engaged to a younger woman, played by Roberts. Unfortunately for her, her future step children and their mother make it clear that she is unwelcome and go out of their way to make her feel completely inadequate. In the beginning of the clip, the narrator says, "You do your best to raise the children. You do your best to care for them. But no matter how much you love them, you will never measure up to... their mother." This film embodies super-mom persona (Sarandon) and the damsel in distress (Roberts). In today's society, it is commonly perceived that women are supposed to take care of the house, kids, and still be able to produce and healthy and delicious dinner day after day. Susan Sarandon, playing Jackie Harrison, is able to complete every task, almost taking on the world. She remembers the special days at school, that its not cool to bring a lunch to school, and all the special appointments/commitments the kids have on which weekends, cause they are always changing of course. She is the woman that can conquer the world, and still manage to pick her kids up from school on time. She is the classic example of the stay at home mom. I have to ask, why is Sarandon's character so hell bent on making the other woman uncomfortable? It's not like she is a threat, the kids will follow her lead. Women are notoriously territorial, and even if you don't want to get back with your ex, you definitely don't want to feel as if you are being replaced for a younger and newer model car. Then there is the future stepmom, Julia Roberts who plays Isabel Kelly. Isabel Kelly is more of a helpless woman than she is super-mom. Roberts' character tries so hard to remember everything (like purple shirt day and the ever changing riding lesson schedule), to get the kids ready, while still keeping a full time job as a photographer. She is constantly trying to measure up to the kids' mother, and every time she fails. The narrator even says, "you will never measure up to their mother." But why does Roberts' feel like she needs their approval? She already has the man of her dreams, what difference does it make if the rest of the family likes her, they are going to have to deal with her right? Just as much as women are territorial, women seek acceptance, regardless of who that person is, or how little their opinion matters, most women want to feel accepted. This film is no exception. The lengths that Isabel goes through to get the daughter to accept her is extraordinary: she hooks her up with a model so the high school heartthrob will get jealous, after he dumped her, she tries to help her with her art project by showing her how she used to be an artist and gives her tips on how to make it look more realistic, and the list goes on and on.

On a related note, the last clip is another example of women being helpless and having a knight in shining armor come to their rescue. In this clip, Christian sneaks in to see Kimber after being attacked by a serial killer who makes his victims see how their plastic surgery really makes them ugly. Toward the end of the clip, Kimber asks Christian to rate her, that when they first met he told her she was an eight, and she wants to know what she is now that "the Carver" has attacked her. Unable to respond after the curtain has been pulled, he tells her that he will make her a ten again. That he will fix everything and make it all better; because Kimber is completely helpless and unable to make herself feel better. She has to have more plastic surgery to correct the damage, so she can be beautiful again and all wounds will be healed after that. She tells him that no surgery is going to take away the pain of what she went through, that "the Carver" striped her of her beauty and she is completely helpless, which is classic damsel in distress. 

The second artifact is of a poster for a musical entitled "Cougar." We discussed the idea of the cougar and MILF extensively in class, so I won't take up too much space about it here. However, I will address that many older women today are getting divorced and ready to prove to the world that their ex husbands aren't the only one that can get a hot piece of... That they too are just as capable of having a piece of eye candy on their arm too. Because of this, the idea that women are predatory and hunt for their next victim like a cougar. This goes against previous society norms of the 40's and 50's that women were to be seen, not heard and that women are meant to be submissive. But the cougar, she is dominant and aggressive. She sees something that see wants, and goes for it; similar to what men do. 

As mentioned earlier, women are often perceived as manipulative in current American society. The third artifact, the diamond ad,  is a good representation of this. (On a side note, this image honestly made me laugh.) The fact that the designers went with this ad is very telling. The fairy tale proposal happens because the man is in love with the woman, wants to spend the rest of his life with her, and the issue of sex has nothing to do with why he is proposing. (I will go into this more for the next artifact.) However in this campaign, it clearly illustrates how women are using their sex appeal to manipulate men into a happily ever after ending. The first picture is of a man holding a small blue box in front of a woman, who has her legs crossed. The picture following it shows the box opened, containing a beautiful diamond in front of the woman with her legs opened. Now we must assume that the women in both photos are in fact the same, since they are wearing the same clothes and shoes. In today's society, the dating game is simply that, a game; with many more rules and more complicating than before. A woman is to appear mysterious, usually accomplished by playing hard to get and not being available all the time, you must play the cat and mouse game. Also, women aren't supposed to show all of their personality at once, otherwise they may come off too strong and frighten Mr Right away. And one of my favorites, the sex card. Women's one power card is sex and when to get down. It is similar to what Coon said about Alias and Charlie's Angels: "... in both cases, the heroines make repeated use of masks and disguises to control the way others see them, which allows them to manipulate situations to their advantage" (3). In order to be a contestant on today's dating game, you must be able to mask and disguise certain parts of your personality, at least for a little while, otherwise you won't be able to be the winner. 

Lastly, there is the music video of Taylor Swift's song, "Love Story." The video depicts the Romeo and Juliet story, of falling in (forbidden) love and going through hoops to be together, she even references Romeo and Juliet in her song. The idea that this movie depicts is the hopeless romantic, damsel in distress. As I have discussed this at length, I won't go into it too much. Based on this video, women will make eye contact with some gorgeous guy, have this fantasy romance, and it will have a happy ending. Although, this video provides a little twist, because at the end of the video, the fantasy romance melts away and the two are back in reality. However, it still leaves me feeling like she wishes the fantasy world hadn't melted away, that she wanted to be swept off her feet and ride off in the sunset together. The problem is, that was back during Romeo and Juliet's time, not modern day. The idea of this whirlwind romance and living happily ever after no longer exists, there are prenups and games (as mentioned earlier). The video presents a fantasy world, then has it melt away, but still show her desire that it didn't melt away... 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Masculinized Sexuality"

This week, the assigned readings were regarding masculinity and the cultural scripts that tell men how to be a "man." Something that was also discussed in the readings was compulsory heterosexuality, where the assumption that heterosexuality is normal and universal.  In the Brooks reading, he talked about the "centerfold syndrome" and how it is just as damaging to men as it is women and went on to identify 5 different elements that contribute to  this: 1) voyeurism, 2) objectification, 3) need for validation, 4) trophyism, and finally 5) fear of true intimacy. Finally, in class we talked about the main concepts of masculinized sexuality, which I will reference in regards to the following images (writing out another 13 concepts seems a little ridiculous). 

Artifact 1: Here is a picture of Hugh Hefner and his multiple girlfriends right before his annual Midsummers party. Here, I can identify at least two concepts discussed in class: heterosexuality and quantity. But before I get into that, it must be said that Hugh Hefner is an icon in popular culture, and while there has never been any doubt about his sexuality, this photo encompasses his heterosexuality, since he has eight barely dressed women on his arms.  Quite a large number of young women, especially since Mr. Hefner is old enough to be their grandfather, if not great-grandfather. Lastly, going back to Brooks five elements of the centerfold syndrome, Hugh has managed to objectify these women, as well as the women in his magazine. They are all trophies, not to mention a sign of Mr. Hefner's reluctance to be intimate and show emotion--if you have more than one, you don't feel the need to have an emotional connection, cause you can essentially get it from whomever, whenever. 

Artifact 2: In class, we watched a video documentary about wrestling and it's effects on American culture and society; specifically about "how to be a man," how it contributes to society's homophobia, and domestic violence. This  image is in reference to wrestling and homophobia. It is clear from the image that the man on all fours is being feminized and put into a "bitch" position, while the man grabbing on to his waist is the dominant alpha male, putting the other man in his place. 

Artifact 3:  One of the themes of masculinized sexuality is men and their conquests, and the game of cat and mouse. If you have seen the film, Cruel Intentions, then you know that Ryan Phillippe is trying to persuade Reese Witherspoon's character into having sex with him, so he can when a bet with his step-sister and be able to have his way with her. Ryan's character is notorious for his number of conquests and he enjoys the challenge of playing the aggressor chasing after the coy and innocent virgin. 

Artifact 4: This is an image from a Calvin Klein cologne ad. I chose it because the male model is displaying several different aspects to the idea of masculinized sexuality: sexually available, self focused, constant interest in sex, and a lack of emotional intimacy. The model is shirtless, with his pants undone, his underwear showing, and a wearing a facial expression that is stoic-esque. Brooks referenced the idea of the centerfold syndrome and the how men have a fear of intimacy. This model has supressed any feelings of emotion or vulnerability, which is a classic sign or symptom of Gary Brooks' centerfold syndrome. 

Artifact 5: Finally, we have an image of Ryan Seacrest and two painted ladies on his arms. As mentioned in a previous blog, painted ladies are women that are in body paint with nothing else on their bodies. This picture reflects the most commonly known male fantasy of threesomes, with the male and two other females. It can be assumed that Mr. Seacrest's companions are satisfying his need for validation. Both these women are very attractive, and as Brooks mentions, the more attractive the woman or women, the more validation power she has. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

"Appropriate Sex"

This week, we talked about socially constructed "appropriate" sex- specifically "great sex." What is "great sex?" If you pick up a woman's magazine, such as cosmo, it will tell you something about how to please your man, giving out the message that great sex is when you provide it to your man.  In contrast, great sex for men is all about receiving it, and you will never see any mention in a man's magazine about how to please your woman. Why? First of all, the idea that men need advice on pleasing their woman is insulting. Men are programmed from day one, they don't need advice. Second, great sex isn't about the woman, because the woman provides it. The big question here is: what is socially constructed "appropriate" sex? To boil it down, appropriate sex is what is socially acceptable- meaning, heterosexual, white, and for the most part, monogamous. The following artifacts are visual representations of appropriate sex and/or great sex. 

Artifact 1: This is a cover of a August 2007 issue of Cosmopolitan.  Observe the bolded text on the left hand side: "His #1 SEX Fantasy: No Woman Has Had the Nerve to Try This on Him... And He'll Go Totally Nuts When You Do." This goes back to the concept that women are there to please and great sex has nothing to do with a woman's needs.  On the right hand side of the cover: "Feel Sex More Intensely: A Guide to Your Body During the Deed." This is impressive that there is any mention to this at all because as mentioned before, it is not about satisfying women. However, while this does address women's needs to feel sexually satisfied, it is featured in a woman's magazine. So in addition to women having to please their man, if they want any sexual fulfillment, they must accomplish that by themselves, on top of what they need to do to get their man off. 

Artifact 2: This is a clip from the Angelina Jolie and Antonio Banderas movie entitled "Original Sin." The clip picks up after they finished their sexual encounter, and Angelina asks what is the man's name. In Dempsey and Reicher's article "Portrayl of Married Sex in the Movies,"
 they talk about how "the most common sexual depiction in the films was sexual intercourse between unmarried partners." I felt like this clip was the perfect example of this, sense the two actors are complete strangers, not even in a committed relationship with each other, and had just finished "the deed."
Artifact 3: This clip is from the movie "Coyote Ugly." It depicts the main character, Violet Stafford at her first day of work at this bar. While being trained, her boss, Lil, tells her that she is supposed to appear available but never be available, and of course makes her outfit more appropriate for the bar by ripping it to shorten it. On page 3 of the article by Menard and Kleinplatz, they mention how women are encouraged to dress and interact with men that makes them sexually desirable without showing their own desire. What her boss, Lil, says in this clip is the visual depiction of Menard and Kleinplatz's article. 

Artifact 4: In the same article mentioned above, the authors dicuss narrow sexual scripts. They also go on to talk about kinky sex and bondage: "bondage should involve ties and scarves and not actual bondage paraphernalia. Any "kink" should be "mild" because, as many magazines implied or stated explicitly, full-on kink is just plain scary" (pg. 14). I chose this image because it really shows how full-on kink is scary. The woman is bound, gaged, and has a dog collar around her neck. Also, another point about full kink paraphernalia being scary, when you see images of this in movies, they are usually depicted in horror movies during the scariest scenes (ie the woman being chained up and about to be slaughtered) and you never see images of hard core bondage in romantic comedies. In other words, this is NOT appropriate sex.

Artifact 5: Lastly, we have a image from the movie, "The Notebook" starring Rachel McAdams and Ryan Gosling. In the film, the two meet and fall madly in love with each other and even though many things come between them, they end up together. I chose this image because it pretty much hits every aspect of "appropriate" sex: they are both white, heterosexual,and monogamous. This movie is filled with many cliches about love and marriage and soul mates, and is a perfect example of the ideal all-American couple.