Monday, January 5th, 2009...12:52 pm

Pornification

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Meenakshi Gigi Durham, associate professor of journalism at the University of Iowa and author of The Lolita Effect: The Media Sexualization of Young Girls and What We Can Do About It (Overlook, 2008), reviews in the January 9, 2009 Chronicle of Higher Education a new book on the ubiquity of sex in American culture:

These complexities are still fraught in the new millennium, when representations of sex now permeate public spaces beyond the ivory tower. The English professors Carmine Sarracino and Kevin M. Scott are acutely aware of this relatively recent social phenomenon, and in their provocative new book, The Porning of America: The Rise of Porn Culture, What It Means, and Where We Go From Here (Beacon, 2008), the authors reflect on the incursion of porn into everyday life. “We are asking,” they write, “not how porn has become mainstream but, much more important, how the mainstream has become porned.” Drawing on examples such as the Carl’s Jr. television ad in which “Paris Hilton performs oral sex on a hamburger,” as well as more serious episodes, such as the sexual abuse and humiliation of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, they explore the complex, contentious, much-analyzed but still-confounding issue of porn. . . . Real life, the authors argue convincingly, has begun to follow porn-movie scripts. Students assess the “hotness” of professors with chili peppers on the Web; Bill Clinton’s shenanigans with an intern were viewed with amusement by a generation familiar with, and unhorrified by, porn scenarios. The sexual scripts of porn, the authors observe, are “infused into mainstream culture everywhere we look.” What was once marginal, the stuff of secret museums and Puritan shame, is now normal.

Anyone observing popular street fashions, at least for women, cannot but notice their similiarity to the costumes of urban street prostitutes ten years ago. Or YouTube video performances that rival pole dancers’.

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