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Sexing the Media

How and Why We Do It

Debra L. Merskin

Sex in the media is one of the hottest topics of the day. We know that advertising, television, cinema, and other forms of communication use sex to sell us products and pump up story lines. The question is: why are sex and sexuality such effective tools for getting our attention?
Sexing the Media: How and Why We Do It is a textbook that explores answers to this question through historical, sociological, psychological, and ideological perspectives. It explores how media and other social institutions use sex and sexuality (the capacity to have erotic experiences and responses) to advance economic and ideological interests.Cinema, music, music videos, television programs, advertising, and the Internet are discussed as carriers of deliberately constructed messages that contribute to and support a master narrative that privileges heterosexuality and monogamy.
This interdisciplinary text includes contemporary case studies as examples that would be useful in courses in media, cultural studies, sociology, and psychology.
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No book is an island and this volume is no exception. My sincere thanks to everyone who supported me in this project. In particular, thanks to students in my J4/510 Sex and the Media class who provided feedback, curiosity, and enthusiasm for this subject. Thanks go to my friends and family who were patient as I regularly declined invitations because I had to write. A special thanks to Wendy Maltz, LCSW, DST, whose guest visits to my class, input on my ideas, and support informed my understanding of the connections between pornography and addiction. Joanne Alba, Education Projects Coordinator, Planned Parenthood of SW Oregon, provided context for understanding the crisis in America in terms of the rates of unwanted teenage pregnancies and the importance of comprehensive sex education in schools. Thank you above all to Mary Savigar, Phyllis Korper, Bernadette Shade of Peter Lang and Theresa Kay for supporting this project. Grateful acknowledgment as well to copyright holders for permissions to use materials: photographer Donald Schneider and New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and to Professor Tom Bivins for the artwork used on the cover.

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