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06 MARCH 2015

Sexed up: theorizing the sexualization of culture

"This paper reviews and examines emerging academic approaches to the study of ‘sexualized culture’; an examination made necessary by contemporary preoccupations with sexual values, practices and identities, the emergence of new forms of sexual experience and the apparent breakdown of rules, categories and regulations designed to keep the obscene at bay. The paper maps out some key themes and preoccupations in recent academic writing on sex and sexuality, especially those relating to the contemporary or emerging characteristics of sexual discourse. The key issues of pornographication and democratization, taste formations, postmodern sex and intimacy, and sexual citizenship are explored in detail."

(Feona Attwood, 2006)

ATTWOOD, F. (2006). Sexed up: theorizing the sexualization of culture. Sexualities, 9 (1), 77-94.

TAGS

2006Anthony Giddens • attitudes to sex • auto-eroticism • Brian McNair • Brigid Costello • casual sex • Catharine Lumby • commercial sex services • consumption spectacle • contemporary sexual discourse • cybersex • David Bell • David Buckingham • David Evans • Debbie Stoller • Dennis Altman • diverse sexual identities • Elisabeth Beck-Gernsheim • email affairs • erotic life • Eva Illouz • excitation • female sexualityfemininity • Feona Attwood • gender relations • hedonism • Hilary Radner • Imelda Whelehan • intimate relations • Jane Arthurs • Jane Juffer • Jeffrey Weeks • Jon Binnie • Joseph Bristow • Juniper Wiley • Kenneth Plummer • liquid love • literature review • Mandy Merck • Marcelle Karp • Marj Kibby • Mark Jancovich • Michel Foucault • Natasha Forrest • obscenityonline datingpersonal life • personal relationships • phone sex • physical pleasure • physical sensation • plastic sexuality • pornographication • postmodern sex • radical sexual politics • renewable pleasures • romantic encounters • romantic relationships • Rosalind Gill • Rosalind Given-Wilson • Sara Bragg • sex and commitment • sex and reproduction • sex toysexismsexual behaviour • sexual citizenship • sexual commodification • sexual democratisation • sexual desire • sexual discourse • sexual encounter • sexual experience • sexual fitness • sexual identities • sexual intimacy • sexual meaning • sexual objectification • sexual obscenity • sexual practices • sexual preoccupation • sexual propriety • sexual regulation • sexual representation • sexual sensibilities • sexual subjectification • sexual values • sexualised culture • sexualised depictionssexuality • sexualization • sexually explicit texts • Sheffield Hallam University • SHURA • Simon Hardy • Stacy Gillis • taste formations • transient pleasures • Ulrich Beck • Walter Kendrick • William Simon • Zygmunt Bauman

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
03 DECEMBER 2009

a critique of consumer goods and advertisement imagery

Hu Jieming's "highly acclaimed photo–manipulated images Raft of the Medusa (2002) he references to Théodore Géricault's seminal and allegorical image, the Raft of the Medusa (1819). The historical painting serves as a mytho–poetic memorial of the 150 lost souls onboard the raft after a fatal shipwreck, from which only 15 survived. The painting very elegantly undermines the traditional heroic 19th century historical painting, and, instead, conveys a society in sinking collapse. Hu Jieming parallels this historic occurrence to the regime of the Cultural Revolution with all its sinister cruelty. His Raft of the Medusa, thus, is more than just a reference to the past: The photos are composed of today's excessive amount of consumer goods and advertisement imagery. Additionally, Hu Jieming juxtaposes pictures of today's youth in gestures of self–indulgent hedonism with monochrome grey pictures of the suppressed people in traditional mao–uniforms. These compositions made of images appropriated from different socio–political realities signify a strong critical engagement with both history and the present – it is a concern ranging beyond pure private considerations."

(ShanghART Gallery)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 NOVEMBER 2009

Big Hair: A Wig History of Consumption in Eighteenth-Century France

"Historians of consumption have generally followed social theorists in emphasizing two different aspects of modernity. While social scientists emphasize long term processes of 'modernization,' such as urbanization and industrialization, cultural historians and literary critics define modernity in terms of consciousness, stressing in particular the development of a reflexive self and a heightened awareness of one's present age as new and set off from the past.(4) Both understandings of modernity underpin current historical literature on eighteenth–century Western European consumption. Highlighting socioeconomic processes of commercialization, historians argue that eighteenth–century Western Europe experienced a 'consumer revolution' as men and women freed themselves from the grip of scarcity to initiate a buying spree of historic proportions. Although its geography and periodization remain highly controversial, such a revolution is commonly represented as a step toward modern consumer society.(5) At the same time, the study of consumption, especially French consumption, has taken a cultural turn, opening new doors between the Enlightenment and late modernity. (6) Daniel Roche, whose work has defined the field, argues that the birth of consumption was an integral part of a larger cultural change in which the traditional values of a stationary Christian economy gradually gave way to the egalitarianism and individualism of modern commodity culture. For Roche, the story is principally one of emancipation: 'It is important to recognize that . . . commodities did not necessarily foster alienation; in fact, they generally meant liberation.'(7) The diffusion of fashion led to 'a new state of mind, more individualistic, more hedonistic, in any case more egalitarian and more free.'(8) Less optimistic than Roche but equally intent on establishing a connection between Enlightenment consumption and modernity, Jennifer Jones contends that the late–eighteenth–century discourse on fashion helped to produce modern, essentialized definitions of gender. As social differentiation faded from fashion commentary, gender differentiation took its place.(9)"

(Michael Kwass, p.633, The American Historical Review, 111.3)

Fig.1 FRONTISPIECE: Wigs. Encyclopédie, ou Dictionnaire raisonnée des sciences, des arts et des métiers. Recueil de planches, sur les sciences, les arts libéraux, et les arts méchaniques, avec leur explication, 11 vols. (Paris, 1762–1772), s.v. "Perruquier."

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TAGS

changecollaborationcommercialisationconsciousness • consumer revolution • consumer societyconsumerismconsumptioncostume design • cultural historian • Daniel Roche • egalitarianism • emancipationEuropean EnlightenmentfashionFrancegender differentiationgeographyhairhedonismhistoryindividualismindustrialisation • Jennifer Jones • late modernityliterary criticmodernisationmodernityperiodisation • reflexive self • social change • social constructionist • social differentiationsocietysocio-economictraditiontransformationurbanisation • Western Europe • wig

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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