Striptease Culture: Sex, Media and the Democratization of Desire

Striptease Culture: Sex, Media and the Democratization of Desire

Striptease Culture: Sex, Media and the Democratization of Desire

Striptease Culture: Sex, Media and the Democratization of Desire


From advertising to health education campaigns, sex and sexual imagery now permeate every aspect of culture. Striptease Culture explores the 'sexualization' of contemporary life, relating it to wider changes in post-war society. Striptease Culture is divided in to three sections:* Part one ¿¿" traces the development of pornography, following its movement from elite to mass culture and the contemporary fascination with ¿¿~porno-chic¿¿"* Part two ¿¿" considers popular cultural forms of sexual representation in the media, moving from backlash elements in straight male culture and changing images of women, to the representation of gays in contemporary film and television* Part three ¿¿" looks at the use of sexuality in contemporary art, examinging the artistic ¿¿~striptease¿¿" of Jeff Koons, and others who have used their own naked bodies in their work.Also considering how feminist and gay artists have employed sexuality in the critique and transformation of patriarchy, the high profile of sexuality as a key contributor to public health education in the era of HIV and AIDS, and the implications of the rise of striptease culture for the future of sexual poltics, Brian McNair has produced an excellent book in the study of gender, sexuality and contemporary culture.


People say to me - or imply in the frowns and jokey asides which still tend to accompany discussion of the sexual even in the grown-up world of academia - what's a nice media sociologist like you doing in a dirty sub-sector of the field like this? To which I reply: sex is the most important thing in the world. Or if that seems excessive: sex is one of the three or four most important things in the world. We eat, we excrete, we fuck, we sleep, if not necessarily in that order. In the human journey from birth to death, only those activities are truly essential to the production and reproduction of life. All else - the way we dress, the shapes of the houses in which we live, the work we do, our art and culture - are, to a greater or lesser degree, epiphenomenal decoration and artifice; the socially and culturally mediated product of our precocious species' ability to advance technology at an ever-accelerating rate, to command and exploit its environment, to reflect on its achievements and failings, to learn (and sometimes not to learn) from its mistakes.

If eating and excreting are essential because they are the means by which we process food, dispose of the waste products, and thus replenish our bodies then sex, the means of genetic reproduction, is the prerequisite of it all. The fundamental human sex act - that which takes place between a male and a female, requiring vaginal penetration by the penis and the ejaculation of male sperm leading to fertilization of the female's egg - is the only natural biological mechanism for the transmission of genetic information from one person to another, and from one generation to the next. From this clumsy exchange of bodily fluids a new human being can be made, and genes passed on. All other means of reproduction, welcome though they may be to those who are unable to produce children naturally, and with access to the technology which makes assisted conception possible, are the artificially enhanced fruits of scientific progress.

Defining terms: sex and sexuality

Sex in our time is not reducible to reproduction, of course. Its possibilities and permutations are constrained neither by the mechanics of male-female intercourse, nor the immediate survival needs of the gene or species. The biological imperative to transmit genes through sexual intercourse has over hundreds of millennia evolved . . .

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