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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 8: Too Young, Too Old: The Procreative-Age Confinement of Socially Tolerable Sexuality


· 8 · too young, too old The Procreative-Age Confinement of Socially Tolerable Sexuality Sad-faced child brides, sleazy “cougars,” dirty old men, and wholesome Val- entine’s Day teddy bears. They all attract public attention, whether in the context of news coverage of heinous abuses or cheesy reality shows. What do they have in common? One very salacious thing: references to sexuality out- side the limits of reproductive age. The rapes of a 5-year-old girl or an 88-year- old woman are undoubtedly more newsworthy than other atrocious sexual assaults. So are May-December romances, the skyrocketing sales of “babydoll” nightgowns in mid-February, and Medicare-funded penis pumps. Age is one of several so-called “master” statuses (along with gender, race, class, and political and religious affiliation) linked to attitudes, expectations, and self-expectations of appropriate sexual conduct (Laumann & Gagnon, 1995). Although the World Health Organization’s 2010 Standards for Sexu- ality Education in Europe define sexuality as “a central aspect of being human throughout life [that] encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction” (p. 17), social norms have traditionally restricted any sexual expressions in childhood and old age (Foucault (1976/1990). Breaking the mold remains difficult even in an era that claims to no longer repress sexuality, especially because age scripts are deeply intertwined with gender narratives. For example, media content is 196 mediated eros often dismissive in regard to so-called “lolitas” (girls seen as especially seduc- tive but too young for sex) and “cougars” (middle-aged women who are older than their lovers)...

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