Postfeminist sexual culture

Authored by: Rosalind Gill

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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Over the last decade, “porno chic,” the “pornification” of society, and the “sexualization of culture” have become major topics of concern in news media, in policy arenas, and in academic study. The notions of “pornification” and “sexualization” capture the growing sense of Western societies as saturated by sexual representations and discourses, and in which pornography has become increasingly influential, permeating mainstream media and contemporary culture. Porn stars have emerged as best-selling authors and celebrities; a “porno chic” aesthetic can be seen in fashion, music videos, and advertising; and practices once associated with the sex industry—for example lap dancing and pole dancing—have become newly respectable, promoted as a regular feature of corporate entertainment or recreational activity. This shift speaks to something more than the idea that “sex has become the big story” (Plummer 1995: 4). As Feona Attwood has noted, it denotes a range of things:

a contemporary preoccupation with sexual values, practices and identities; the public shift to more permissive sexual attitudes; the proliferation of sexual texts; the emergence of new forms of sexual experience; the apparent breakdown of rules, categories and regulations designed to keep the obscene at bay; [and the] fondness for the scandals, controversies and panics around sex.

(Attwood 2006: 77)

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