Feminism in a postfeminist world

Women discuss who’s “hot”—and why we care—on the collegiate “Anonymous Confession Board”

Authored by: Andrea L. Press , Francesca Tripodi

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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The recent media fascination with the best-selling trilogy Fifty Shades of Grey—what some have called “mommy porn”—illustrates that women’s overt discussions of sexuality remain shocking in US culture. This is particularly true when those discussions transcend the bounds of “conventionality,” however defined. In the case of Fifty Shades of Grey, it is the explicit sadomasochism of the sexual encounter which most notably shocks. Various feminist commentators in the blogosphere recoil at Ana’s submissive role, concerned that the sadomasochistic sex scenes objectify women’s bodies and encourage emotional and sexual dependence (DelVecchio 2012; Perez 2012). Others celebrate the negotiation of sexual fantasy between Christian and Ana, in which Ana can find pleasure in various forms of sexual experience (Debold 2012; Maya 2012; Roiphe 2012). These recent debates echo the feminist sex debates dating back to the Barnard Conference of 1980, during which anti-porn feminists clashed with “pro-sex” feminists. 1 The proliferation of sexually charged media, their mass consumption, and the increasingly participatory nature of new media forms, all of which characterize the contemporary media environment, usher in a new set of questions for feminist reception studies which are relevant to these longstanding concerns.

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