Attwood, F. 2006. “Sexed Up: Theorizing the Sexualization of Culture.” Sexualities 9(1): 77-94.
Sexualized culture as preoccupation with sexual values, emergence of new sexual experiences and identities. Pornographication, postmodern sex/intimacy, sexual citizenship, and new discourses on sex. Sex “serves a multiplicity of purposes, including pleasure, the establishing and defining of relationships, the communication of messages concerning attitudes and lifestyles, and the provision of a major mechanism for subjection and violence” (Plummer 2003b, 19 here 78).
When we talk about sex, what is it? Self, cyber, mediation, interaction?
Giddens 1992 – late modern cultures defined by permissive attitudes toward sex, fragmentation of moral consensus, propriety – though within relationships (pure, often marriage) – domesticated; intimacy, however, eroticized. Rise of sex tourism, sex clubs, technological advances offer new modes and means to have sex – representational of a “shift from a relational to a recreational model of sexual behaviour, a reconfiguration of erotic life in which the pursuit of sexual intimacy is not hindered but facilitated by its location in the marketplace” (Bernstein 2001, 397). Sex linked to public fascination, deviation, consumer and youth cultures, in an increasingly diverse world.
Plummer 1995 – modern sexual narratives are linear, mark relationship between the real and represented, direct; however, post-modern narratives shift these assumptions to be less linear, less cohesive.
“It may be true that our sexual repertoires are broadening, that sexual discourse is increasingly accessible to all, and that ‘sex’ now functions as a privileged site through which the ordinary, the personal and the individual are embodied in the public sphere, but a simple celebration of these developments ignores the ways in which they also make our sexual practices and identities more available for regulation. This approach also oversimplifies the ways in which developments in sexual taste, representation and practice may be related to positions of power, particularly in terms of class and gender relations (82-83).
Parodic ‘lad culture’ that is based in men’s voyeurism and women’s exhibition is not ironic and pastiched, but instead is “sexism with an alibi” (Williamson 2003). Retro nostalgia (pin-ups) and fetish images as radicalized, but instead re-sexualize and re-commodify women toward self-discipline, narcissistic femininity (Gill 2003) – sexual subjectification as “objectification in new and even more pernicious guise” (Gill 2003, 105). The creation of new discourses surrounding “liberated” female sexuality often come from tropes of repression, sexism. Sex is stylish, a means of individual and relational identity construction, a form of embodied expression, an aesthetic valuation.
Combination of emancipatory politics of 1970s-80s social movements with globalized capitalist consumerism gives rise to a class labeled “bourgeois bohemians” (Arthurs 2003, 86). Thus, “the ‘classiness’ of female sexual activity is extremely important here both as a way of establishing its legitimacy and of linking sexuality to a range of other contemporary bourgeois concerns such as the development and display of style and taste and the pursuit of self-improvement and self-care” (86).
Simon 1996 – late modern societies offer such weight to individual experience and creation, not just for the self’s creation of meaning, but the creation of self FOR itself (instead of in relation to others). Postmodern sex because a self-narrated inquiry into individualistic desires, separated from larger social systems, destabilized. Despite this, sexuality still acts as a “prime connecting point between body, self-identity and social norms” (Giddens 1992, 15). In the post-modern narrative, newness, transience, choice and variety become a site of eroticism, where “affairs” can be replicated, instead of the demand for relationships and intimacy. Instead, intimacy is viewed as a site of pleasure, pleasure as intimacy? Use of self-eroticism, pornography simultaneously challenges and reaffirms the authentic as non-real, which continues the pursuit of authentic passion — the pleasure and the pain is in pursuit, despite understanding the pursuit will likely fail.
New politics of sexuality incite new demands for inclusion, citizenship, democracy, public-private relationships, the interconnection between the personal and the political. Connection of libertarianism with hedonism, consumerism, radicalism, and capitalism.
Arthurs, Jane. 2003. “Sex and the City and Consumer Culture: Remediating Postfeminist Drama.” Feminist Media Studies 3(1):83-98.
Bernstein, Elizabeth. 2001. “The Meaning of the Purchase: Desire, Demand and the Commerce of Sex.” Ethnography 2(3): 389-420.
Giddens, Anthony. 1992. The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love and Eroticism in Modern Societies. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Gill, Rosalind. 2003. “From Sexual Objectification to Sexual Subjectification: The Resexualisation of Women’s Bodies in the Media.” Feminist Media Studies 3(1): 100-106.
Plummer, Kenneth. 1995. Telling Sexual Stories: Power, Change and Social Worlds. New York: Routledge.
Plummer, Kenneth. 2003b. Intimate Citizenship: Private Decisions and Public Dialogues. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
Simon, William. 1996. Postmodern Sexualities. New York: Routledge.
Williamson, Judith. 2003. “Sexism with an Alibi.” Saturday May 31, 2003. The Guardian. Access Date: