So Jack and the Box recently has been airing this commercial, which I must admit that in the beginning is quite funny. The woman claims she is going through menopause and desires a certain Jack and the Box drink to help ease her “suffering.” However at the end, Jack says she needs the drink to stop her from going “street rat crazy.”
Here is my issue with this commercial: Some Americans (I only speak for American culture because I have not become an expert and/or have lived in any other culture), believe now that woman can work that sexism is dead. Some Americans believe that because Obama is President that racism is dead. Some Americans believe that hate crimes are a thing of the 80’s now that we have accepted AIDS/HIV not as homosexual diseases only. Women are still sexually harassed at work, people still use racist language, and hate crimes are on the rise, specifically against those who do not identify as being gay and are only perceived as being gay.
We have come a long way, I recognize that, but there is still so much work to do.
Commercials that have any “ism” undertones at all are only perpetuating the problem. Those who are educated pick up on the patriarchal nature of such commercials as the Jack and the Box one featured in this blog. It is the people who are media illiterate that I worry about. I have people always telling me to lighten up about the media and I have to explain to them that the media is injecting us with messages about hate, body image, etc without us even realizing it. They try to send subliminal messages to us at childhood that saturate and become a part of our belief and value systems. The ideologies sent through mass media end up becoming vital parts of our family system that get passed down through the generations. I had a group member in a science course last term from Saudi Arabia that said to me “What scares me is that American culture is shaped by your media, while in Saudi, the citizens and their culture shape it [the media].” Not that I believe Saudi is the poster child nation for women’s rights, however this was coming from an educated man in his late 20s and I thought his point was valid and frighteningly accurate. Are U.S. Americans that obvious?
What Jack and the Box does is put women back in the box. The bottom of the box. The box that puts women under men in the power structure (Marxist theory of power relations). It’s only a 30 second commercial, but it’s message is centuries old. It actually dates back to hysteria when Jack says “street rat crazy.” If you know where the word hysterical came from you know what I mean. Only women could be diagnosed with hysteria and in today’s society the word hysterical is often only used when referring to women. If more Americans would understand the root world of hysterical and how sexist it really is, less of us would use it. Or at least I would hope…
The problem is, people don’t know. And when advertisers create their witty messages they should be held accountable for the work they produce if it is sexist, racist, homophobic….and all the “isms” out there. How come there is censorship for racism but not sexism? How come cable shows cannot use the “N” word but men can call each other “pussies” and “bitches?”
Bottom line, the commercial was almost funny. However, when issues such as menopause are so sensitive to so many women (or perhaps not, some women don’t claim to “suffer” all of the same symptoms) than we have to ask, “why are these women sensitive to this commercial?” The answer always should reflect our history. We need to remember where the word hysterical came from, why it was used, and what sort of problems it created in our society. Is it OKAY to call a girl/woman crazy just because she cries? Why crazy? Is it better than hysterical? Is it the modern word for it? Maybe we just had a bad day.
Sometimes I blush. More often, I find myself derisively snickering at the Food Network gods and goddesses after they’ve obliviously 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 replicatable scenarios for their audiences. Gastroporn, as Kauffman calls it, is incredibly 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 the mouth” is the quintessential Freudian phallic symbolism. Here, the use of Giada’s finger is two-fold: it insinuates an oral fixation shown in pornographic media while veiling symbolism for an action that is 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 looping 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 from 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.
Kim Kardashian rose to Paris Hilton-like fame after the release of her sex tape 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 life 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 famiy to her boyfriends to E! network. In the picture above, Kim is posed seductively in a tight, strapless dress for her and her famiies reality show, “Keeping up with the Kardashians”….. And without fail, she makes sure the public gets a good angle on 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 “Keepig 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 the 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 can 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 celebritys’ backends, the user is asked to decide which of 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, familiar rump-centric discourse
it’s apparent that E! is not only in the business of generating rump-centric discourse and putting Kim and her assets 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 racial and ethnic identity.
While the instances of Kim’s rump commentary are plentiful (I have only presented a select 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 the 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.3 However, I do not want to present too optimistic of a view, for it is undeniable that Kim’s Hottentot-inspired 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 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, pseudo-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 pseudo-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 for 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, it also screams identity crisis.
Katy Perry’s song “I Kissed a Girl” pretty much sums up the pseudo-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 wanted to put one’s self on display for a man or for public attention, any 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 her 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 if 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 it 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 pornography, it does have multiple suggestively pornographic images all seen through the male gaze.
This week my blog will not be focusing on my readings and findings, instead a colleague of mine from the course. This week I will focus on Jennifer Combs’ blog, but specifically her first entry entitled “Empowerment vs. Objectification.” The link to Jenny’s blog is: http://www.stmjc.blogspot.com/
In regards to Christina Aguilera, it is not about what she is trying to do, remember intent does not matter. Throw intentions out the window. Instead, her image is molded, created, and owned by her record label. The analysis of this photo and her image does not come down to Aguilera as an individual. If she was an independent artist she could create her own image entirely. Instead the analyzing her as a product is necessary because she is under contract. What she sings, what she wears, how she dances and poses for photos all comes down to her record label. Her label observes how her competitors in the pop market are portraying their (Britney, Jessica, etc) image and take it to the next level. When the artists’ voice is taken away, this is when they are objectified. Aguilera’s image was drawn out, like a blueprint, molding, tested, and then set out to the market. Similar to a car, or a hairdryer; both objects, the root word of objectification. Her mold is set, and then she conforms. There is not an empowering voice, there is no voice. Remember that when a person is silenced, he or she is up for objectification.
The graffiti art is difficult to analyze, but Combs was brave to do so. Although I must disagree that the graffiti art is not absolutely empowering. I question who is objectified in this photo, the mother or the recipient of the poem? How do we know that the writer/artist was using this public space as a medium for expression and creating conversation around his or her piece? Is it possible that what he or she did was empowering? The correlation between R Kelly and the graffiti art unfortunately weakens the argument because the two subjects have no common ground. Instead of trying to use an R&B artist to strengthen an argument, why not look at other art? How has controversial art made its way into main stream media and advanced careers? It is possible that taking a leap for an artist is simply empowering. There were no names or photos represented in this art, so I would argue against objectification and say that his poem represents empowerment.
Oh the Coors Light twins. First of all, they are featured in a “light” advertisement. Most of the light beer commercials we see are geared toward women. Beer companies expect that only women that drink beer are concerned about counting the calories and that men could care less. I would argue that every individual for him or herself. Some men obsess about their image more than their female counterparts, and vice versa. It would more concrete of my colleague to take a stance on this particular photo instead of just leaving it as the fact that anyone can argue that is can be either objectification or empowerment. Instead, look at the correlation between pornography and advertisements in popular culture. A popular theme in the adult film world is the girl on girl DVDs. Remember that those women are being viewed through the male gaze and they are pseudo-lesbians. What about this photo caught attention from America? Of course the twins were the spotlight, and therefore it is important to analyze the notion of male fantasy including incest. The women themselves could argue it is empowering to pose for Coors and use their bodies for marketing purposes. But when you throw intent out the window, it leaves us with the correlation between pornographic images and mainstream media that includes latent incest messages. Whether or not the advertisement “worked” or not as my colleague argues is irrelevant. What is relevant is the analysis of the advertisement and how it reflects the cultural expectations in the United States.
Sexualized minorities are considered not of the socially constructed “norm.” This polarizes individuals and puts them in categories. The norm is considered anyone who is non-heterosexual or transgendered. Heterosexism is another word for homophobia. Unfortunately there are is still heterosexism on television, in film, and in TV advertisements. There is also the lesbian-chic/pseudo lesbian phenomenon thanks to the adult film industry’s influence on mass media, and men. The male “turn-on” of seeing women make out on screen is almost a must in most teenage drama TV shows and in teen movies. Although some of these shows try to present real lesbians (refer to the “OC” clip above), they are all seen through the male gaze. The “OC” presented a relationship between a main character Marissa and a new character, Alex, a female. The relationship was the first lesbian interaction for Marissa. Whenever the two male main characters spoke about it, they laughed, and mentioned trying to visualize. Without this commentary, or without the facial expressions from Seth in the scene provided in this week’s blog, the relationship would have been validated. Instead it falls into pseudo-lesbian chic category, thus remaining only for the male’s gaze, and leaving little room for lesbian viewers to see it as a legitimate relationship and experience it through their gazes.
“Friends” gives us an accurate example of same sex desire. While Joey and Ross are both portrayed as heterosexual couples throughout the series, this episode focuses on a nap they take together and are both ashamed of the position they fall asleep in. In the end of the episode Joey wants to reenact the nap with Ross and suggest they leave the café to cuddle. Initially Ross resists the idea, but seconds later he gives in and chases Joey upstairs to the apartment. Author Dennis writes “tradition to present homosexual desire as only possibility has traditionally made characters appear asexual.” This is seen in this episode, along with many cartoons in which Dennis researched. It is interesting because both men show signs of homophobia, initially rejecting each other after they wake up. What we find is that this is actually only a façade from their same sex desire. The end of the episode leaves us wondering what happens between the two. “The Real World” every season tries to have at least one gay or lesbian character on its show. It is important to understand that although they might be set in the “real world” they are characters cast by specialists. These specialists are looking for specific personality traits before they meet the individuals. It is like they all ready have the characters drawn out and molded, they just need faces and bodies to fill those positions. In the scene provided we see Ryan, a small town Iraq veteran, calling the transgendered character an “it.” Not only does he call her an “it,” he claims ignorance as if ignorance justifies his language. The casting specialists specifically looked for this small town ignorance for a character who they knew would offend housemates. Although he seeks out Kaitin, the transgendered woman, for answers, his behavior leading up to it polarizes her individually. The Nike advertisement was banned for its homophobia. The face in the crotch while getting dunked on, and the text reading “that ain’t right” did not sit well with the gay community. Nike quickly apologized and released a statement that they have a strict policy prohibiting homophobia, racism, sexism, etc. Apologies are often made after mistakes are made which is a responsibility of any business. However, Nike is one of the world’s leaders in advertisements. This was simply sloppy design and should have never occurred. The clip from “My Best Friend’s Wedding” supports the claim that heterosexual women in film and TV define the gay man’s role and character. According to Shugart, the gay man/straight woman configuration can be seen in this movie and Will and Grace. The women’s roles are consistently written as being weak, needy women who always rely on men; gay or straight. When these women are seeking hetero relationships they lean on their gay male friends for help. When the women are single, they rely on the gay male to shop with them, sleep with them (in bed, not sexually), live with them, and kiss them on the lips both hello and goodbye. When the female does meet a male counterpart, he waltzes on the screen looking more masculine because of her gay friend. This dynamic further polarizes and stereotypes gay men. In this scene we see Jules waking up after drinking tons of bottles from the mini-bar in her hotel room (a sign of weakness) because of her broken heart and stress. Her gay friend, George, surprises her early in the morning and one of the first things out of his mouth is how ugly the hotel room is. The notion that gay men are there to fix things, accessorize, have high knowledge of fashion and interior design is a notion created by these stereotypical roles in film and TV.
“It’s So Not Okay To…
Our panel of experts tells you how to avoid these lipstick crimes”
Picture from www.womenshealthmag.com from the beauty and style section, retrieved 02-17-09.
Last week I discussed the mediums of masculinity, but this week it is all about the girls, girls, girls! What in the media shows society what femininity is today? We have many social artifacts to examine, such as advertisements, TV, film, websites, and magazines. If one were to study these artifacts and analyze them down to only a few elements of what represents femininity in American culture, one might find it differs slightly with age. However, one would also found that over all the ages the end means of expressing femininity through sexuality is the same for all American women. Advertising tells women to express themselves sexually through consumerism, pseudo-lesbianism, and marketing oneself. Consumerism is covered by the Lip Shine Seduction video via Youtube.com from the Maybelline, and Victoria’s Secret in this week’s blog. Here we have a lip enhancer commercial where the narrator’s voice is deep and seductive sounding, with pouting glossy lips on the Victoria’s Secret model (cross over promotion, selling sex and lipstick) and the word seduction right in the name of the product. Watch the video on mute, does it not look like it is geared for men? What about this product would actually turn a woman on? The commercial was obviously designed by a man not because of its sexuality, but the fact that there is instruction in the advertisement. When the narrator tells the viewer that it is easy to use with “just one click” and a demonstration, what does this say about what men think of women? Not only does the advertisement sell men sex, it assumes women need instructions on how to use lip gloss as if has not been around for over 50 years, but it tells women that make up products are what make women feminine. Ultimately the consumer will seduce someone with this lip gloss, and have sex, and then hopefully live happily ever after. Hopefully that woman will understand it just takes “one click!” The Victoria’s Secret picture shows all of its popular models in sexual poses with either nothing on, or just underwear. Don’t get me wrong, I understand that these are some of the most beautiful women in the world. But with only seven percent of the world’s women having these body types, doesn’t it set unrealistic goals for women? And to me, all of these women sort of look the same. Sure they are German, African-American, American, and Brazilian, but they all have the same body, same tan, same pouty lip, and all have long after-sex looking hair. This is the picture of American’s largest grossing lingerie company, so how many women are really analyzing this and saying “I cannot look like that?” Not many. Instead, it becomes a medium of femininity specifically sexualized. Meaning, if men like this look and it turns them on, women must buy everything they can to look like these models. As Markle explained in this week’s reading about Sex and the City, just like the women on the show are celebrating post feminism (as in now we are all equal to men. Except we still get paid less) through expressing their sexuality through sleeping with many hot powerful men and buying $700 designer shoes, so are “real” women. Real women are forced to consume almost to be considered sexy. But the media still tells women through hundreds of diamond advertisements in the “Sex and Love” sections of major magazines, that one can have sex now with hot men (and experiment with women), but one should make it a goal to end up monogamous with a man and married. This is what I mean by the ends mean is the same for all women. When you’re a teen or “tween” you look at make up products, start picking out your own clothes, etc. Where are these girls getting their advice from? Teen magazines yes, but there is no age limit on mass media. Gossip Girl, Hannah Montana, and the new 90210 unfortunately set teen standards for consumerism. The stars of the show are featured in teen magazines in the “style” section with headlines claiming you can look as good as ____ from Gossip Girl! From a young age girls are taught to consume products to sell themselves to men. Katy Perry pretty much sums up pseudo-lesbianism because we know she is heterosexual, and we also know we have never actually seen her kiss a girl. But she sure put 16-year-old girls at Homecoming in an awkward spot didn’t she? Imagine high school students at a dance and the song comes on. Everyone screams, everyone sings and jumps up and down, and then the “exhibitionists” decide it will be “hot” to make out for their boyfriends. Always for the males gaze and fantasy, never for true lesbianism. That is all that really needs to be said about dear Katy Perry. And lastly, the Cougar. The Cougar is not a MILF (Mom I’d Like to F#$! For all of you who just don’t pay attention to pop culture). While the MILF is still a mom and probably married, the cougar is actually on the prowl. This is an older women, her kids are probably in college or all grown up with kids of their own, and she is just a lonely, rich, hypersexual female looking for a young man to again, F%&!. Gossip Girl is about teenagers. The boy (actually played by a 23-year-old man) in the clip has been pursued by a girl at school’s mother who screws him in her and her husband’s bed then throws him out in his underwear for the whole neighborhood to see. She has used him and humiliated him. But she is in power here, so this would be a sign of mediated femininity as specifically sexualized. Because she is the one with the upper hand, and sexual experience, she is seen as a sexy character, instead of the child molester that she is (remember he is a teenage boy). What does this tell women? It tells middle-aged single, very lonely women, that as long as it is consensual banging the boy at your daughter’s high school is sexy. This character walks a thin line between MILF and Cougar, but I decided she was a cougar because her husband is always gone and she is actually acting out the fantasy. Unlike a MILF who is just given the title by horny teenage boys (thank you American Pie). The whole cougar notions play into the women who market/package themselves. They have the spray tans, the fake D cup, tiny wastes, work out all the time but somehow still meet their other rich cougar friends for Starbuck’s Frappachino’s on a daily basis, and are the queens of consumerism. They have created a package of what is hot to other men, and now they want to act upon what they have created. To wrap it up, women are told to express femininity through consumerism (buy junk you’ll look hot, but not junk food, that is not hot), pseudo-lesbianism (make out to Katy Perry at the next college bar you go to and you’ll probably have sex that night. But keep your fingers crossed for a boyfriend/fiancé/husband! Oh the possibilities! Thank you Katy Perry!), and marketing oneself (whether it is now or when you’re 55, if you have the whole package and sell it sexually, you’ll have lots of sex. So buy some lube you Cougars out there!)
The picture with the woman with the lip stick lines and pencil in her mouth just sort of wrapped up femininity as it is sexualized through the media for me. This photo is from Women’s Health Magazine (when is the last time you saw a man but one of these) and is completely a one shot of American culture where consumerism and sexuality are tied together with the lipstick and phallic symbol (pencil).
“Phrases to Get Her into Bed Tonight
By: Nicole Beland
These simple linguistic cues tell her you’re the right man for this evening.
Whether you blabbed a good friend’s secret or ran over the neighbor’s limited-edition bike, admit it. Confessing an error in judgment leaves you exposed and vulnerable, which makes a woman want to wrap you in her arms. Telling her about it wins her over even more—you’re showing that you value her opinion. The resulting combo of compassion and confidence will inspire her to make everything all better—or at least distract you.
1. “I screwed up, and want to hear your thoughts.”
2. “Did you know you have a heart-shaped freckle on the back of your left thigh?”
After the first few months of sex, inch-by-inch body exploration yields to cut-to-the-chase carnality. That’s a shame, because having her body mapped puts a woman in the mood for luxurious sex. Pull aside the blankets on a weekend morning and run your eyes and fingertips from her toes to her earlobes, making admiring comments along the way. You won’t get past her elbows before she pulls you in for a deep, wet kiss.
3. “I’m organizing a team of volunteers for Summit for Someone.”
Whether it’s climbing mountains with inner-city kids or carrying the neighbor’s groceries, helping others boosts your sexy factor for two reasons. First, altruism shows her that you can put your own needs aside, which inspires her to take care of them for you. Second, your good deeds make her feel as if she’s dating up, because clearly you’re a better person than she is. She’ll want to join forces with you on your life’s quest.
4. “You must be exhausted. Let’s take a hot shower and I’ll scrub your back.”
The number-one reason your partner turns down sex is because she’s stressed. And while she knows there’s no better cure for wound-up nerves than a spring-release orgasm, it can be hard to shake off the day’s distractions. By blasting the hot water and lighting candles, you’ll offer a tension-melting solution she can’t refuse. Once the hot water and your soapy hands chase the stress away, she’ll finally feel sexy again.
5. “I want to accomplish a few key things in the next 5 years.”
When a woman hears a man talk about the future with a “whatever” attitude, her level of respect for him drops and her thighs snap shut. She was surrounded by way too many of those directionless dudes back in college, and she has learned that men who have clear goals and realistic plans for achieving them are rare. She’ll appreciate your farsightedness all the more. Making up your mind settles hers, as well.
6. “I’m taking the day off tomorrow to chaperone my niece’s field trip.”
While a woman is impressed by a man who’s driven to succeed, she’s even more tantalized by a striver who’s willing to put a family member first—extra points if that family member is under 12. She’ll instantly flash-forward to when you’re the sweet, caring father of her children, at which point her heart will go all gooey. Come back from your kiddie outing with a cute stuffed animal for her and she’ll practically drag you into bed.” [Men’s Health Magazine online: http://www.menshealth.com/mhlists/Six-Seductive-Phrases/index.php]
How is gender defined? What tells us how to act in only two gendered groups; male and female, both social constructs. Berkowitz, the author of Consuming Eroticism, explains the concept of “doing gender” as where men and women are both told by mass media how to act as a gender, and then he or she performs that gender where socially acceptable. Many of my blogs have focused on women and how they are objectified, this blog’s primary focus is men and how men are told to be masculine. How do the above advertisements, along with millions of others, tell men how to be men, or at least perform as men?
In the documentary, “Wrestling with Manhood” the WWE is examined as to how it affects men’s views on women, sexuality, dominance, and violence. The film asks an important question, “What are the effects from the WWE on boys and men in the real world?” The trash talking in the WWE is seen and heard on the playground, so is the bully and the bullied. Homoeroticism is clear in the WWE as lesbians and gay men are insulted to by wrestlers/actors to police boundaries. Even the gay characters in the WWE are hated amongst fans who yell hate words from the crowd. But the head in the crotch and assumed sexual positions between the heterosexual wrestlers are deemed OK because of the insults that police the boundaries amongst the open homosexuals. In the clip attached, the owner of the WWE, Vince McMahon makes actress/wrestler Trish Stratus strip down to her underwear and crawl around the rink barking like a dog. The scenario was that Stratus has somehow offended the company and McMahon was punishing her. Often in the WWE women are beat up by their boyfriends or husbands in the ring and the men justify it by saying “she had it coming” or “she deserved it for being a slut.” The second quote is often heard amongst men that commit rape when they try to justify their actions. This only further normalizes gender violence and tells men that belittle and punishing women makes them more masculine.
Then we have the article from Men’s Health Magazine online, declaring “These Six moves will make any woman sleep with you right away.” Often sex advice columns in men’s magazines are teaching men how to hunt and gather sex as soon as possible, as much as possible. Many sex advice columns for men tell them, “Hey if you do just do these six things, you can get any woman you want.” There is no emotional advice about how to handle a break up, or rejection. Many “real” men feel very anxious about sex to begin with and often rejection only hurts them and furthers that anxiety. Because the media is telling them to have sex with a high number of women, but they are getting rejected in real life, their anxieties rise, thus hurting their sexual health. Fraternity college brothers face initiations where they are forced to count how many female co-eds they have slept with, and the top winners are inducted into the fraternity. This notion of sex for recreation for numbers (not for sexual exploration, just numbers) can often hurt future relationships both physically (STDs) or emotionally. Since men compare their sexual experiences with other men (women as trophies) it is always a competition. Everything from basketball to sex is measured in success by numbers for men, and that defines masculinity.
What is socially constructed “appropriate” sex? Think of the normative in American society. What does history tell us about American ideologies of sex, gender roles, and sexual activity? If we examine social artifacts (magazines, music, advertisements, movies, internet, books, etc) we come to understand that women are sexual objects, martial sex is portrayed less on television and film than pre-marital, models on women’s magazines are gazing at men (not women), normative sex occurs between a man and a women (striving for long term and monogamy), and that women’s pleasure in the bed is irrelevant. Artifacts tells us that women need to focus on pleasing their men and giving “good” sex, while men need to focus on finding sex and having explosive climaxes. These images and messages somehow transpire down to teenagers and tell them that oral sex is safer because it prevents pregnancy. If we consider sexual history and how it has been taught in the schools and religious institutions we come to find that the biggest message taught to teenagers is that sex is an act for reproduction only, and anything else is recreational and “inappropriate.”
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). The research tells us that there is no room for sexual exploration of a women’s own body, or that of another woman. Popular magazines also leave out the possibility of same sex male relations. Society today, even in 2009, still tells editors that masturbation and homosexuality is too taboo to have photos or editorial content. Unfortunately there is also a lack of racial and ethnic representations of sex and partners.
If you look at the photo of the man and woman in the kitchen portraying sexual acts (Cosmopolitan.com) what do you see? Man, women, hetero, white, middle to upper class apartment or kitchen, wine, and some photo of a sexy women eating dessert hanging on the wall in the background. Oddly enough, food was mentioned in the Sex and Love (love coming second, of course) section of Cosmopolitan’s website under an article entitled “Seductive Meals.” As Professor Freeman has pointed out in lectures, The Food Network has drawn a thin line between the production elements of pornography and cooking shows. The way a female draws food in to her luscious lip glossed lips, and sucks on it for a moment before swallowing (suggesting fellatio), and the way food that normally takes three hours of preparation suddenly is “oh finished” (suggesting the “money-shot” in pornography). This photo on the website not only furthers the ideologies of “appropriate” sex, but it points out that sensual foods and wine can probably lead to male fantasy of food and sex in the kitchen (somehow this couple manages to awkwardly rub on each other without falling off the counter). Perhaps the latent messages are those that bridge the gap between the sex and food industries. I would say so.
Other artifacts presented in this weeks blog include Cosmopolitan’s sex games book which as the title tells us is exclusive for hetero “lovers,” a diamond ad that tells us marriage is for monogamous hetero couples, a magazine model whose gaze is directed at men and not it’s female consumer, and a Ralph Lauren Romance perfume advertisement that reinforces romance as hetero, but look at her ring finger. The model for Romance is wearing a wedding ring. Is she married? Is this her fiancé? We are left with these two questions. She is either engaged and this is “pre-martial” or she is married to someone else because the male model is without the band claiming commitment (male fantasy).
While the language and paradigms in popular culture is changing, still much is left without discussion in depth. We must consider that sex advice manuals in the eighteenth century referred to women as servants both sexually and domestically to their husbands. Magazines before the Great Depression often referred to pleasing husbands, or cooking for husbands. Today we still see heterosexual language, but almost never the mention of husband and wives. The major problems with this “appropriate” sex ideology are the under representation of sexual minorities and interracial sex, the effects on women’s understanding of their position in the bedroom, strange ideas about how sex is supposed to look (hey Hollywood, guess what, sometimes people fall off the bed) and the effects on young people during their sexual exploration stage. What do these images tell teenage girls? If they lay their eyes on women’s magazines they will come to believe that it is their duty to perform amazing oral sex on their peers to gain status and some sort of reputation. These images are conflicting with the information teenagers receive in the “abstinence only” teachings in sex education courses implemented by the Bush Administration. Not only did teenage pregnancies rise, but so did STDs thanks to this teaching philosophy. While the media (and yes, President Clinton) are telling young girls that fellatio is just foreplay and not sex (because it is not vaginal), health teachers are teaching that anything sex leads to pregnancy, diseases, and possibly death (teaching on fear). Health centers in high schools are not allowed to prescribe birth control, or hand out condoms because of the abstinence only teaching laws making for a lot of unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies. Because sex is taboo among teenagers it becomes more appealing, giving them a sort of adult, free way to express themselves in a rebellious manner, only leading to unsafe practices. This is a world where sex still requires one servant (female) and sexual teachings only repress teenagers and do not assume that ‘Hey! Teenagers will have sex regardless!’ Shocking, I know. Oh they drink underage and do drugs too! Let’s teach them the harmful effects so they can make safe decisions instead of judging them and telling them they are burnouts that will either rot on the street or rot in jail.