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Mediated Eros

Sexual Scripts Within and Across Cultures

Miglena M. Sternadori

This book makes a unique contribution to the field of media studies by analyzing the perpetuation of sexual scripts through news articles, films, TV shows, lifestyle magazines, advertisements, and other forms of popular mediated culture. Focusing on cultural differences between North America and Europe, the book catalogues and contextualizes common sexual scripts by looking at the ways in which people have or do not have sex, eroticize each other’s bodies, penetrate each other’s bodies, and give meaning to all these activities.
Other such analyses have explored whether, when, and why people decide to have sex, and so on. This book instead focuses on how the sexual interaction itself is culturally scripted to occur – what sequence of events takes place after a couple have decided to have sex. While the first half of the book catalogues sexual scripts in a general way, based on geography and sexual orientation, the second half is framed around sexual discourses associated with some degree of shame and social stigmatization. The book ends by addressing the hegemonic perpetuation of mediated sexual scripts across cultures and the role of sexuality in fourth-wave feminism.
Mediated Eros is suitable as the primary or secondary text in seminars on media, culture, and sexuality, and would also be of interest to journalists and freelance writers whose work explores the sociocultural construction of sex and the sexual self.

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Chapter 1: Constructivist Theoretical Underpinnings: Sexual Scripts and Media Frames

Extract

· 1 · constructivist theoretical underpinnings Sexual Scripts and Media Frames A 12-year-old boy is miraculously turned into an adult and, thanks to a series of fluky events, is about to sleep with a woman for the first time. Sadly, the kid does not understand he is about to get lucky, and blurts out: “OK, but I get to be on top.” Being really 12, the protagonist is envisioning an innoc- uous sleepover in bunk beds. From an adult point of view, he is pathetically attempting to negotiate a sexual privilege that he, as a male, already has. Funny? Yes. This is the one of the many hilarious moments in the film Big (Brooks, Greenhut, & Marshall, 1988), which caused the audience to double with laughter when I first watched this film in a Bulgarian movie theater. The comical effect seemed to reflect a perceived violation of an implicit cross- cultural script regarding what constitutes a “normal” sexual initiation and resulting intercourse. This is the nature of scripts. They are so powerful that they can make many (although not all) international audiences laugh at the same script vio- lation. In the case of the mainstream heterosexual script, the basic narrative unfolds like this: First we have a date, then we kiss, then we hug, then we remove some or all clothing, and then we have a penile-vaginal intercourse, typically with the man on top. This is “normal,” not-too-dirty lovemaking. We assume everyone knows the basic script, which is confirmed by the laugh- ter-inducing...

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