Monday, May 26, 2008

Sex in the Digital World (Extra Credit Blog)

Adult Friend Finder


Grand Theft Auto IV

PlayStation 2: Playboy the Mansion

PlayStation 2: The Guy Game

Tomb Raider video game

The digital world has sex all throughout it. Video games, blogs, video and social networking sites, advertisements, and dating services (just to name a few places). It is pretty difficult to go on the internet or play a video game without being bombarded with sexualized images.

Artifact #1 and artifact #2 are both ads for adult “dating” sites. I say “dating” because that is the mild way of putting it when in reality the people using these websites are not looking to date but rather to find someone to have sex with. Adult Friend Finder and LuvStreet are places where adults, single or married, can go to meet other adults that are looking to add a little something new into their sex life. These sites are set up similar to dating websites in that the user creates a profile, posts pictures of themselves (most often sexual pictures), explain what they have to offer and what they are looking for in exchange. These digital hookups turn into real life hookups once the individuals or couples exchange information and decide to meet in real life.

One of the most popular aspects of the digital world is video and computer games. More often than not these games are filled with sexually explicit images and themes and all the rest of the artifacts in this blog revolve around this. Artifact #3 is an ad more the game Grand Theft Auto IV and this is a game that has been under some controversy over the years. Some argue that this game depicts women as sexual objects and that there is a large amount of violence towards them in the game that has been carried out into the real world of violence against women. Artifacts #4-6 are images from the PlayStation 2 game Playboy: The Mansion. In the game the player can choose to have their relationships with the playmates be casual, business, or romantic. The player also plays the part of the photographer of the Playboy photo shoots and he/she chooses what the playmate will wear and how she will pose for the photo shoot. The images in the game are of scantily clad women, partial nudity, and sex acts are performed in the expanded version of the game. Artifacts #7-8 are of the PlayStation 2 game titled The Guy Game. The game is described as a “topless trivia game” and it is modeled after the series “Girls Gone Wild” where the audience is typically drunken college aged males and the women in the game are drunk or semi-drunk college age girls described by some users as “spring break sluts”. Artifact #9 is an image from the Tomb Raider video game. The main character is an Indiana Jones type archaeologist named Lara Croft who goes in search of ancient treasures. Lara is sexualized in that she has a very curvaceous body and is dressed in extremely form fitting clothing however this game differs from the others in that Lara is not the victim of physical or sexual violence, she is not set on display as a sex object as the Playboy girls are, and she is not describes as a “spring break slut”. Instead Lara, even with her hyper sexualized body and clothing, is the action adventure seeker and she is portrayed as the heroine and main character of the game.

Whether one is entering the digital world in search of adult sex friends, playing computer games, or simply checking email, chances are they are going to run into some sort of sexualized image along the way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Sexual Health in the Media

Durex XXL Condom ad

Talk Sex with Sue Johansen

Trojan Condom commercial

Men's Health magazine
online quiz.

Test Your Condom I.Q.
What you don't know--could hurt you

1. Latex condoms should be stored?
*In the refrigerator
*In your wallet
*In a dry, cool place
*In a bedside drawer
2. Packaged condoms that are coated with a spermicide are good for approximately?
*12 months
*3 years
*5 years
*6 sex partners
3. Packaged condoms are good for approximately?
*12 months
*3 years
*5 years
*2 weeks at Club Med
4. The condoms that provide the most protection are made from?
*Natural animal membranes
*Latex rubber
*Silicone-coated linen
5. The best way to put on a condom is?
*Place it on the head of the penis and unroll it all the way to the base
*Remove it from the package, unroll it and pull it over the penis
*Remove it from package, inflate it and pull over the penis like a sock
*Without even removing it from the packaging
6. The proper way to remove a latex condom from its package is?
*By tearing the packaging in half down the middle
*By opening it before you need it and placing it on a bedside table just in case
*By tearing off just the top of the foil package, being careful not to rip the condom
*By using your teeth
7. Next to abstinence, the most effective protection against sexually transmitted diseases is *proper condom use. Yet, some people still won't use condoms because?
*They're too embarrassed to buy them
*They trust their partner's health and assurances
*They do not take the risks seriously
*It's too much effort
8. Carrying condoms in your wallet may?
*Keep you prepared
*Damage the condoms and the packaging
*Wear off the expiration date
*Make you feel really cool
9. The following should never be used as a lubricant with latex condoms?
*K-Y Jelly
*Silicone gel

The Onion News: America's Finest News Source

Antipsychotics Reduce Sex Drive
A study of people taking antipsychotic drugs for treatment of schizophrenia shows reveals that diminished sexual function is an unwanted side effect. What do you think?
Old Man

Lyndon Fitzpatrick,
Scuba Instructor
"Where can I get some of those drugs? I'm sick of sex."

Old Woman

Molly Prescott,
"My God. That means virtually everyone on Craigslist is off their meds."

Young Man

Ty Jackson,
Systems Analyst
"That's it, no more medication for me. I sure hope I get laid a lot in the lucid moments from my nightmarish paranoid delusions and horrifying hallucinations."

The ways in which sexual health is portrayed in the media is mostly in a humorous form. Even when the message is serious it seems to take on a lighter or humorous tone. I wonder if this lighthearted way of looking at sexual health is because it is a difficult subject for our culture to talk about or if the humor just makes it easier for us to pay attention to it.

Artifact #1 is an ad for Durex brand XXL condoms. This simple image shows a woman’s mouth with bandages on each side which implies that her sexual partner was so well endowed that he ripped her mouth through oral sex, hence the need for the Durex XXL size condoms. Although the ad could be portrayed as cruel towards the woman and egotistically saying that the man’s penis was so huge that it ripped the woman’s mouth, it is also promoting safe oral (and possibly other) sex through the use of condoms. The ad may be seen as cruel but it could also be viewed as a humorous way to get the message out to use condoms, more importantly for this company, to use Durex condoms.

Artifact #2 is a video clip about the show “Talk Sex with Sue Johansen”. Sue Johansen is a sex educator and nurse who in her own humorous and quirky way encourages her audience to ask questions, get informed, and experiment with sex. Johansen has a television show, website, and gives lectures on the subject of sex and sexual health. She isn’t afraid to talk about typically taboo or ignored sexual topics and she uses her humorous, matter of fact attitude to get her message across to her audience. Her approach isn’t the typical stuffy sex ed type but rather the laid back and open to anything approach.

Artifact #3 is a video clip of a Trojan condom commercial. The humorous commercial follows an elderly couple on their first date and ends with them getting ready to get sexual as the women pulls out a bunch of Trojan condoms. The commercial ends with the text “You’re never too old to be safe” which is again a humorous way to inform the viewers to use condoms no matter what. By using humor the company can get their audience to pay more attention and not shy away from the subject.

Artifact #4 is a quiz from Men’s Health magazine testing the reader’s condom knowledge. This quiz is not in the humorous form but it still has a lighter tone attached to it. The quiz gives answers to some important and many times not known facts about condom use and care. It doesn’t talk to in depth about sexual health other than the implied message that condoms should be a part of the reader’s sexual health routine and it gives good information about how to make the use of condoms even more effective.

Artifact #5 is a news article from the fake news source The Onion and it is very much a joke revolving around sexual health. The article talks about how the use of antipsychotic drugs used for schizophrenia can decrease sex drive. It doesn’t teach the reader about sexual health issues but rather it brings attention in a humorous way to the fact that our society is so obsessed with the fear of decreased sex drive. It is saying that our society has gotten to the point when we would rather give up needed medicine (such as anti depressants and antipsychotics) in order to had an active sex life, and if that still doesn’t help then we can always take another medicine to increase sex drive or sexual performance (Viagra, etc.). This spoof article is a humorous way to bring to light the sexual health issues that our society does talk about rather than the real sexual health issues that we seem to ignore.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pornographic Mainstream Media

Rachael Ray
sexually posing for
FHM mens magazine.

Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef

Calvin Klein Advertisement

Scene from television

Flavor Flav: Interview on
Playboy's Dirty Dozen

Pornography can be found anywhere; in your bedroom, in your neighbors bedroom, in the Red Light district of Amsterdam, and in the mainstream media that we see everyday.

Artifacts #1 and #2 are both images of how the Food Network and other self proclaimed food connoisseurs incorporate sex and pornography into their content. Artifact #1 consists of images of Rachael Ray posing in pornographically yet playful poses for FHM men’s magazine. This famous cook and television personality is shown here in a much different way than she is usually shown. Artifact #2 is a book titled The Return of the Naked Chef by the sexy young Naked Chef himself, Jamie Oliver. Oliver’s nickname was originally referring to his recipes/food and had nothing to do with nudity but as time went on it was easy to see that calling this young hunk the Naked Chef sure brought in more viewers in hopes of getting a glimpse of sexy skin. According to Frederick Kaufman’s article Debbie Does Salad: The Food Network at the Frontiers of Pornography, there are two types of pornography: sex porn and gastroporn. Gastroporn refers to porn within food which similar to sex porn it “addresses the most basic human needs and functions, idealizing and degrading them at the same time.” The Food Network and other food driven media use gastroporn to entice and tease their audience without ever really teaching much about the food itself.

Artifact #3 is a Calvin Klein advertisement where the model is shown milking a cow by hand and as the milk squirts her face it resembles the classic “money shot” in pornography videos. It is not clear in the photo what the designer is trying to sell (shoes, handbag, jacket, lipstick, perfume, etc) but it is clear that this is an obvious representation of pornography placed in mainstream media magazines and internet ads. Not only is the money shot of milk hitting the models face, she is suggesting that she is enjoying it though her use of seductive facial expression and her use of her tongue to catch the squirting/dripping white substance (milk or semen).

Artifact #4 is a video clip from the television show “Weeds”. In this clip Andy is turned down then seduced by a sexy woman who uses him as her sex object. Her aggressive sexual acts towards Andy seem like something straight out of a pornography movie including sex toys and dominatrix innuendos. The show is shown on Showtime which is mainstream media and they do give a warning stating “ADULT CONTENT, GRAPHIC LANGUAGE, VIOLENCE, BRIEF NUDITY, VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED”. This warning might be helpful for adults to know if this subject matter is appropriate for younger people yet it doesn’t exactly include “PORNOGRAPHIC MATERIAL” in their warning.

Artifact #5 is a video clip of rap artist Flavor Flav being interviewed on Playboy’s Dirty Dozen which is an interview show which they identify as their “12-question celebrity sexamination”. Although these interviews are posted on Playboy’s website and there is a warning about sexual content there is no stopping minors form accessing these interviews on the site. Along with getting access to these sexual interviews on Playboy’s website these interviews are easily found on sites such as YouTube which anyone can gain access to. Playboy’s celebrity sexamination’s are filled with pornographic material (language) that can be found in our mainstream media.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sexualized Minorities and Heterosexism in Media

"Six Feet Under" couple
David Fisher and Keith Charles

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo
Hanna-Barbera Studios

Tylenol PM advertisement
featuring a homosexual couple.

Madonna kissing
Britney Spears and
Christina Aguilera
at the 2003 MTV
Video Music Awards.

There is such a thing as sexualized minorities in the media and often times they are portrayed in ways that make is easier for heterosexuals to accept which is how our media gets filled with heterosexism.

Artifact #1 and #2 are pictures of the gay couple David Fisher and Keith Charles from the television show “Six Feet Under”. This couple is one of the more positive depictions of homosexuality in the media and the men are shown to have more depth to them individually and as a couple than just the one aspect of being gay. Keith and David are portrayed as having a “normal” relationship with the same strengths and weaknesses as heterosexual couples have. The couple has their ups and downs but they stay strong in the end and stay dedicated to the relationship. They even buy a house together and start a family through adoption. It would be easy to say that the portrayal of this couple battles heterosexism but I believe that along with showing the men as having very similar relationship issues as heterosexuals they are also shown to deal with issues exclusive to them being homosexual. There is a good balance in how David and Keith are shown and their relationship has many complex levels to it and not just the surface stuff that we are often shown in the media. This couple is definitely a sexualized minority as they are one of the few gay couples that are shown in such depth and honesty.

Artifact #3 is a drawing of Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo. According to Jeffrey P. Dennis in his article Signifying Same-Sex Desire in Television Cartoons, Yogi and Boo Boo could be read as being in a homosexual relationship. The pair are inseparable, share a bed and cave, and Boo Boo often sabotages any chance for Yogi to get closer to his gal friend. Who can say for certain if Hanna-Barbera meant to have their bear characters be read as being a homosexual couple but it can be said that this pair is a sexualized minority in the media. Whether the bears are gay or straight they still differ from other cartoon friends in that they share a bed and their sexuality is pretty ambiguous for the most part.

Artifact #4 is a Tylenol advertisement that shows a homosexual couple rather than a heterosexual couple. This ad is a sexualized minority because it stands alone (or almost alone) among an endless crowd of heterosexual advertisements.

Artifacts #5 and #6 are pictures of musician Madonna kissing musicians Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. These photos and this act is a classic example of heterosexism in the media. None of the women are proclaimed lesbians yet there they stood locking lips for the viewers shock and pleasure. They aren’t showing a positive or true view of homosexuality but instead they are showing that “lesbian sexuality is hot” as Tricia Jenkins talks about in her article “Potential lesbians at Two O’Clock”: The Heterosexualization of Lesbianism in the Recent Teen Film. Jenkins explains our cultures obsession with hot lesbian sex and girl on girl action where in reality the girls shown are usually heterosexual and attractive to a heterosexual audience which is the exact case with these musicians.

Sexual minorities are being shown a little more as the years go by but they are still that, minorities in a culture of heterosexism.