Tag Archives: sex

Nudity And Sexuality

A clothing-optional resort, Paradise Lakes in Land O’Lakes, is sponsoring a “g-string pageant.” It is advertising its event with the following ad:


In response, the American Association for Nude Recreation (AANR) has suspended the resort’s membership. They claim that the contest “sexualized the nudist experience.” Instead, the AANR promotes “social, family nude recreation” (story here, via).

What a fantastic example of the different ways in which we can interpret nudity.

See also this post and the thoughtful commentary it inspired.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

“Still Brutally Male”: Brut Deoderant Ad

Kelebek sent in an Australian commercial for Brut deodorant. In it, a male robot transforms various objects (a motorcycle, a drink) into “better” versions, more fitting of a super macho robot. One of the improved items is a Barbie doll/woman:

The woman is, quite literally, an object, to be “modified,” and then posed with his other belongings. And as we see, being “brutally male” is associated with drinking a lot, driving powerful vehicles, having hot women, and probably engaging in the type of risky behaviors that partially explain why men in many industrialized nations live shorter lives than women.

The commercial was pulled from TV by the Advertising Standards Bureau after they determined it was offensive to women. The commercial had to be recut…so that the woman isn’t one of the “objects” in the back of his vehicle at the end. The scene where he modifies the Barbie to be a live woman, and the phrase “reject, modify object,” weren’t removed. And:

Brut brand manager Deane De Villiers defended the ad, saying the robot carried the woman with the utmost of respect “as one would carry one’s bride”.

Yes. If your bride were an object you created to your very own specifications.

And for fun, read the comments to that Sun-Herald article.

NSFW!!! More Clothed-White-Woman/Naked-Black-Woman Images

Miz Belle sent us a set of photos from the September issue (#106) of Numéro, a fashion magazine. The fashion spread, titled “Best Friends” (I found at least one post online saying the two models are, in fact, good friends) features a White woman in at least enough clothing to cover her lady bits posed next to a Black woman whose breasts are on display as she is either entirely or partially naked.

These aren’t even vaguely safe for work.


Angry Green Girl: Sexualizing Women for the Environment

We’ve repeatedly posted about how PETA sexualizes women as a way to draw attention to animal rights issues (a Russian animal rights group has taken up the same tactic). And now we have Angry Green Girl, a website sent in by Andrea K. that applies the idea to environmental issues. The women claim to be “hot, green, and shameless.”

A hybrid-only car wash by women in bikinis:


A video that includes a fully-clothed man wearing a t-shirt labeled “Can’t Get Laid Guy”:

As we see, men are given at least the hope of sexual access to hot women if they make appropriate environmental choices.

From an article at treehugger, which seems to completely approve of this approach:

Angry feminists usually get the eye roll. But what about angry green girls? Seems like they’re getting plenty of attention – or at least this particular spokesperson for green issues. Basically, Angry Green Girl knows how to use her hotness for getting attention, but for a good green cause. From hybrid-only bikini car washes to nearly naked shower tips, check out how Angry Green Girl broadens the eco-issue umbrella through her sarcasm-laden eco-tips. Water issues have never looked quite like this.

These types of activism are based on the premise that a) sexualizing women is acceptable if it’s for a good cause (based on what the group cares about) and b) they actually get people to think about the issues and change their behaviors. Leaving aside the appropriateness of the first point for now (see Lisa’s post on the problems with this logic)–caution, not safe for work), the other question is…are these types of campaigns actually effective? Do people (presumably heterosexual males, that is) who wouldn’t otherwise care about environmental issues watch a video with a girl in a bikini and then rethink their driving habits or what kind of car they plan to purchase?

My first reaction is to be doubtful, but I dunno. What do you think, readers? Anybody have any direct (positive or negative) experience with something of this sort?

See also: quit smoking and get hot chicks, opposing the Vietnam War will get you laid, and Tila Tequila opposes human rights abuses.

On Metaphor (And Penis Fencing Flatworms)

I saw this footage of flatworm reproduction years ago on PBS and I was so excited when Robin H. sent it in!

Flatworms are hermaphroditic.  All flatworms can inseminate and be inseminated.  These flatworms also have two penises each. Flatworms are sexual.  That is, they reproduce sexually by finding a partner with which to trade genetic material.  (Asexual creatures do not trade genetic material, they reproduce by making copies of themselves.)

A flatworm reveals its two penises (in white):


What is interesting about this clip sociologically (in case you’re not already intrigued enough) is how the narrator describes what the flatworms are doing.

Let’s first suppose that it makes little sense to attribute human emotions and motivations to flatworms.  Let’s also suppose that narrations of animal behavior are often going to tell us a lot about how we think and only a little, if anything, about what’s going on with the  social lives of invertebrates.

As you watch the clip below, notice that they explain the behavior not descriptively, but metaphorically.  Flatworm mating behavior is like war and wars have winners and losers:

So the narrator explains that flatworm “sex is more like war than love.”  Worms are “swordsmen” who are “penis fencing.” (Mix metaphors much?)  They carry “double daggers” (penises).  And “the first one to make a successful jab, delivers its sperm.”

Notice how the narrator genders the hermaphroditic flatworms.  Because they have penises they are “swordsmen.”  Apparently their equally functional capacity to be inseminated is eclipsed by their dangerous daggers!

And notice, too, how they describe the flatworm who becomes inseminated as the “loser.”  The “losing flatworm,” the narrator explains, “bears the burden of motherhood, committing valuable resources to having offspring.”


Sperm on the “loser”:


Now it may be true that being the “mother” involves the use of resources. [Note: And this is a nod to the evolutionary logic involved.]  But even so, we would never call the females of non-hermaphroditic sexual species “losers” would we?  I mean, they both get to pass on their genetic material, and doesn’t that make them both winners from an evolutionary perspective?

No doubt it seems reasonable to call the functional female of the pair a loser in a sexist world in which childbearing is defined as a disability (according to the Americans with Disabilities Act) and childraising is defined as non-productive (it garners no wages or benefits and cannot be put on a resume).  Gosh, being non-hermaphroditic, human females are losers by default.  They don’t even get to play the game.

So sexism is one way to explain the wildly offensive characterization of the inseminated flatworm as a “loser.”  But it also may just be that, in choosing a war/sports metaphor to describe flatworm behavior, they inevitably had to characterize one or the other as a loser.  This is a great example of the folly of metaphor.  Metaphors can be used to make something unfamiliar make sense by comparing it to something familiar, but it also runs the risk of forcing the thing being explained to mirror the thing you use to explain it with.

It’s simply sloppy.  And, all too often, it results in projecting ugly realities with which we are all too familiar onto those things we don’t really understand.

For another example of the projection of socially constructed human relations onto the body, see our post on sperm, eggs, and fertilization.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

The Hate F@&%

Ever since it occurred to me a few years ago, I’ve been deeply disturbed the two meanings that the word “fuck” has in U.S. culture.  We use the word when we want to hurt someone really, really bad; and we use it to describe what may be the most physically intimate thing two people can do together.  The fact that the word has that double meaning, I think, speaks volumes about our fucked up relationship with sex.

Illustrating this, Caroline H. pointed me to a June 2009 Playboy slideshow of politically conservative women that readers want to “hate fuck.”  After protests, Playboy took the slideshow down, but RedState captured screen shots. You can see them all here. I post a selection below.

The first slide:



Megyn Kelly:


Amanda Carpenter:


Elisabeth Hasselbeck:


Dana Perino:



Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Coke Zero and Women’s Virginity

I borrowed this commercial from the Mongoose Chronicles, where Mar offers both a hilarious and a serious interpretation. First, the commercial:

Now, the interpretation: More than just another example of a product being marketed with hypermasculinity, this ad sends “…the message… that women’s sexuality is owned by the men with whom they interact…” The “hero” must erase all signs that he transgressed on the father’s property.  Her “daddy” must not know.  Clean and showered, the woman can greet her father in all innocence.

As Mar says it:

…with all traces of sex duly washed away, she’s free to greet her father while pretending to be a virgin. Because for women, virginity: good; sex: bad. But if you’re a man: sticking around to meet the parents: bleah; sex: rawr; Coke Zero: arooooo.


Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Dead-Looking Women in Fashion Imagery (Possibly NSFW)

We posted multiple times about images in which women appear brutalized, threatened, or dead: the Lady Gaga video, a Rene Russo photo shoot, the Pirelli calendar, a NYT fashion slideshow, and the “America’s Next Top Model” murdered women photos, for instance. Jamy B. sent in a set of ads Lanvin is rolling out this fall. They draw on a previous Lanvin campaign for a perfume called My Sin:


Here are the new versions:




From Project Beltway.

I have nothing new to add to our previous analyses–it’s another example of sort of dead-looking women in sexualized positions. But this time they add cats, which actually look at the camera and definitely appear to be alive, giving them more subjectivity than the women have.

My professional, well-reasoned, deeply-pondered sociological insight: ick.

NEW! (Oct. ’09) Anna W. sent in a link to a set of images at Glossed Over. The images come from the September 2009 issues of W magazine. Many of the images present women in very passive poses, many of which make them appear dead:







NEW! (Mar. ’10): Martha sent in some images from the book Who Killed Amanda Palmer? A Collection of Photographic Evidence, a collaboration between the singer Amanda Palmer and writer Neil Gaiman. The photos in the book show Palmer posed as though she’s been murdered, often in ways that are sexualized as well. Some examples:



I’m putting the next one after the jump because it’s a very realistic-looking image of her nearly naked, bloodied, and folded up into a shopping cart; it may be upsetting and/or somewhat NSFW, so be warned.