Sex In America

Sex sells as the saying goes. American society is obsessed about sex. Through advertisements, magazines, television shows, Saga chatter, porn, it seems as if sex is here, there, and everywhere. Yet at the same time it appears as though a “line” of sexually “appropriate” material remains that cannot be crossed, who makes this line and how is it determined???? And it seems that for certain people/groups the line is more rigid. A general uproar ensued after the infamous Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction that exposed her breast. If a man in this case Justin Timberlake’s but cheek was exposed would there have been the same type of response??

A fury erupted after Adam Lambert’s sexually charged performance at the American Music Awards last month. If it had been a man and a woman dancing sexually together would people have reacted in the same way?  I don’t think they would have. I think women in our society today face strong and contradictory pressures to not only be virtuous and pure but also dress in a revealing way in order to be attractive to men. And men are told that in order to be “real men” they must have lots of sex with women. Gideon and Merrill’s posts further show how women are portrayed in a certain viewpoint but if women deviate from this norm such as Hillary Clinton she is demonized. What the hell??? Any type of overt physical contact between two people of the same sex is also both deeply frowned upon and at times repressed from the public view. GMA dropped Adam Lambert from their program but invites Chris Brown to perform. Again, what the hell???

So my question for all of you is, how should sex be discussed today in 21st Century America? Having comprehensive sex ed at a wider level in the U.S. today would be a start for sure. Should there be a line to determine sexual appropriateness in our media without stigmatizing certain sexual activities??? I am very much pro porn, what are your opinions on pornography? Can it be used in sex education? Sex is all over the place and in our face constantly but we don’t seem to be able to address it constructively let alone talk about it. And if it is talked about and acknowledged productively, the ideal remains between a married straight couple. People freak out when a woman in her 60’s Sue Johanson has her own show where sex is openly talked about.

I absolutely think it should be discussed as an activity that is healthy and fulfilling for individuals to seek pleasure and know their bodies better with a partner or partners if done in a safe and healthy way. Unfortunately too often sex is either not discussed at all or if it is discussed it’s done so in a misguided manner at the expense of our youth. How should we talk SEX?????????????????


Gail Collins on The Colbert Report
Review (click on Colbert Nation for clip)


What initially struck me when I saw this clip was the fact that this is one of the rare situations in which you find Stephen Colbert being careful about what he says—at least until he has felt around a little to see Gail Collins’ reactions to preliminary examination of her topic. I just wanted to make a chronological overview of what I thought throughout this video.

So I knew that Virginia Slims were cigarettes, but I actually searched for “Virginia Slim ads” to see exactly what Colbert was talking about and found a whole slough of ads with usually either the phrase, “You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby” or “It’s A Woman Thing”. These cigarettes’ marketing campaign centered completely around the advancement of the women’s movement?!? Where have I been??



Next, I found it a little off-putting when he was like “I assume you want the ‘Ms.’…writing about the women’s movement”. While yes, it is more respectful to call a woman “Ms.”, I found the situation to be a tad awkward, which…I know this is Stephen Colbert we’re talking about, but his guest’s response, “you can call me Gail” as if to say “I do actually have a name…”, was a good one to highlight the fact that there may have been a hint of the “big scary feminist” image placed on her before she took the stage. I think that Collins did end the interview well saying that men and women will win the battle together, which helped to dispel that image of a man-hating feminist.

Moving on though, I’m not sure if Colbert was playing dumb just to bring up the question, but I guess it’s the women’s studies background in me that literally laughed the inquiry about the continued need for a women’s movement. I think that Collins brought up a good point about the fact that part of the reason women’s roles have changed is because modern families often require two wage earners in the household, but women still seem to be held responsible for the care of the children in addition to whatever job she may hold. Colbert cited this reasoning to be a matter of biology – production of breast milk. While his anecdotes were funny, there are clear ways around this such as breast pumps, day care, etc.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing Stephen Colbert, because I love his show. However, I do think that he often lacks in how well he depicts the messages his guests wish to send.

Glen Beck: Blubbering Proof of Another Case of the Double Standard


In one of my classes, I briefly heard about the politics of Glenn Beck and how he cries on television, and was a little horrified. My immediate thought was why he wasn’t butchered for crying on television but when Hillary Clinton did after she won the New Hampshire primaries, critics were relentless. So, I decided to research a little more.

Apparently Glenn Beck is a crybaby. I found quite a few clips where he cries on his show about a myriad of subjects, but mostly to do with his pride for his nation. Glenn Beck started out with a TV show on CNN but quickly turned to the Fox News Network. My professor described him as the populist of this time period, and in a sense I can see that. I just hope he loses just as much as Williams Jennings Bryan did, in both elections and the Scope’s trial. Beck is speaking for the Republican minority that lost in the past election and is fighting against new legislation. I don’t agree with his politics at all, but I am trying to keep an open mind here.

Which leads to my original question: why does Glenn Beck get away with crying? Why is he not attacked for showing such a feminine side of him? It all returns to the double standard! (I say this while shaking my fist up to the sky). Hillary Clinton cried on TV and some say that ruined her chances of winning the primary because she showed her feminine side. Apparently in politics you can’t be feminine. It shows that women are the weaker sex, just like De Beauvoir mentioned in The Second Sex. The “other” cannot run politics; they are controlled by their emotions.

Glenn Beck does get grief for crying but not the same way Clinton did. Clinton was attacked by members of her own political party for expressing her emotions let alone the opposing party. Mainly the people criticizing Beck are comedians and democrats, which seems to be appropriate. Stephen Colbert has repeatedly made fun of Beck along with Jon Stewart. But you expect that.

Colbert Nation: The 10.31 Project

But the Republicans are using Glenn Beck as a role model even though he is showing his feminine characteristics. I just do not understand why he is not attacked for crying, but a woman who is supposed to be emotional is just slaughtered by the media. Unless you pay attention to the news, you don’t know much about Glenn Beck and his crying, but who didn’t hear about Hillary Clinton’s episode?

I guess in politics, a woman must never show her emotion, and men can do whatever the hell they want. Pffft

Very interesting morning in the celebrity blogosphere. If you have no idea what is going on with Kanye West and last night’s VMAs (and you have been under a rock for the last 24 hours), here is a video recap:

Taylor Swift Wins Best Female Video

What I found most interesting was how much boo-ing of Kanye went on throughout the remainder of the show—all of his nomination readings were pretty hostile. This guys is gonna need a good spin doctor; people are PISSED. (Unless, of course, this was an MTV staging, but I doubt it.)

What I saw was a pretty narcissistic and aggressive male who totally stepped in the space of a passive—and young—female and silenced her.

What is coming forth in the commentary about this incident today, however, notes nothing of the aggression of a male against a female but issues related to race: a black man invading a white girl.

So what did you think of last night’s Kanye/Swift moment at the VMAs? Do you see race involved here?

Well, yeah, there is actually plenty to say which is of course, why I am posting it here.

Nip/Tuck – Season 6 Promo

I like Nip/Tuck. While I have only seen the first two seasons, I know it for being cutting edge and taking an awful lot of risks. The show is about plastic surgery, if you haven’t seen it. So I wouldn’t expect Fox (a network known for their edginess) to present any less.

But omg. From the sexy Asian sweatshop to the skin corset…I am both appalled and impressed. What to say, what to say…

I consider myself a Third Wave feminist (or Fourth if we are headed in that direction). I celebrate girlie/girly—that pink, sparkly, glittery moment when nail polish is the focus and shopping at Claire’s a must. I’m not girlie, mind you, more of a jeans and Doc Martin’s kind of woman. But I have several nieces and a few of the younger ones are into that whole princess thing.

As a Third Waver, I revel in the choice to embrace the ultra-feminine construct. I cannot imagine a Second Wave feminist as supportive of such an identity. Though I share many Second Wave ideals—I am strongly pro-choice—I identify just as strongly as pro-porn and I think that already removes me from Second Wave identity.

So I ponder today on what a Second Wave feminist would think of me if they knew about my summer obsession. Yes, I will admit here for the public to see:

I am totally hooked on TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras.


I cannot turn away. Like a car accident, my neck cranes back as my thumb clicks the remote to TLC every Wednesday night at 10p. Have you seen this show?

It really is the epitome of American culture at its worst.



I told myself that I am watching because I am a scholar; my area of focus is Girl Studies so it seems logical to keep current with what is happening in girl culture. But somewhere along the way my fascination moved from scholarly interest to shocked consumer of popular culture. But with moments such as this, how can I not make that shift?

There is so much to say about Toddlers and Tiaras concerning how completely damaging these events are to girls and I don’t think we need to dig too deep to discover what some of those issues may be.


I think there is a lot to say here about mother/daughter relationships, the beauty ideal, consumer culture…need I continue? I could easily change the focus of this blog to pageants and be just as content in filling it with posts of substance.

I question how it is that my fascination, as a feminist, as scholar of women’s issues—particularly girls’ issues—can be so completely sucked into such an event. Is anyone else watching this show? I know I am not the only one watching it; ratings on TLC are up and this is actually the second season.

I have some ideas on why I am so glued to my TV set every week for this show. Any idea why you are?