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Sexualization in the Media

Kaitlynn Mendes

Subject Gender Studies
Communication Studies » Feminist and Gender Communication Studies

People Foucault, Michel

Key-Topics sexualities

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Sexualization is a concept used in communication research, primarily by feminist and gender studies researchers, to describe an increasingly close link between media images of men, women, and inanimate objects and human sexuality (→  Feminist and Gender Studies ). Historical portrayals of sexuality tended to focus on psychological characteristics such as passivity and domesticity for women, and aggression and work for men. In recent years, representations of sexuality have centered on the eroticized body ( Gill 2007 ; →  Women in the Media, Images of ). This is an important cultural shift, demonstrating an increase in the use of bodies and physicality to sell consumer products. The commoditization of sexuality increases as value and sexual appeal are linked. Additionally, developments in media production and technology, including satellite television and the Internet, have helped provide a cheap and easy forum for consumption, marketing, and distribution of sexualized images ( Arthurs 2004 ). It is no longer enough to be masculine or feminine to achieve one's desires. Instead, media messages appear to suggest that one must be openly “sexual,” which in turn means having a young, beautiful body and a luxurious lifestyle. In tandem with this change, Gill (2007) has argued that there have been cultural shifts in the media around the world from portraying women as objects of (male) ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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