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Sex Sells

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  • 25-02-2016 4:41am
    #1
    Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭


    A relatively small and purposive subscriber sampling of college women (n = 141) of the two best selling women's magazines, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, suggested that "sex sells" (McCleneghan, JS, 2003, Selling sex to college females: their attitudes about Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. Social Science Journal, Volume 40, Issue 2, 2003, Pages 317–325).

    This study conclusion seems to me as an elaboration of the obvious, but it does raise the issue about what gender and cultural differences may exist between females and males in terms of how "sex sells?" Comments?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 3,809 ✭✭✭Speedwell


    "Men" and "women".


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    Blair, J, Stephenson, J, Hill, K, and Green, J (2006) in "Ethics in advertising: Sex sells, but should it?" (Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues 9, 1/2: 109-118) found that sex was frequently used and sells in advertising. Women were more often used as sales sex objects than men, but the use of men was increasing. In terms of ethics, there was no clear view as to what was appropriate.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Labarbapostiza


    Black Swan wrote: »
    A relatively small and purposive subscriber sampling of college women (n = 141) of the two best selling women's magazines, Cosmopolitan and Glamour, suggested that "sex sells" (McCleneghan, JS, 2003, Selling sex to college females: their attitudes about Cosmopolitan and Glamour magazines. Social Science Journal, Volume 40, Issue 2, 2003, Pages 317–325).

    This study conclusion seems to me as an elaboration of the obvious, but it does raise the issue about what gender and cultural differences may exist between females and males in terms of how "sex sells?" Comments?

    First you'd need an answer as to what this "sex" thing that sells stuff is. Finding out what sells in terms of objects; perfumes, clothing, magazines, is easy, you simply check the sales figures. Finding out why things sell; whatever the subjective trigger is, is far more difficult. But you can look how the advertising is constructed, to get an idea.

    A common trick in advertising is to superimpose a subjective desire over a commodity. Very typically, the image of a woman is used in proximity to the object; this is the original meaning of the objectification of women.

    Cosmo and Glamour are virtually exclusively purchased by women. Men read them in hospital waiting rooms...they do not buy them. Most of the content is advertisements. If it's "sex" that sells, and most of the women reading these magazines are heterosexual, a simple assumption might be that images of men would be used to sell objects. This is not the case.

    Nowadays, women consume as much pornography as men (if you google you'll find the studies). Hetero men like to watch men having sex with women, or women with women, or solo women masturbating. They do not like watching men having sex with other men, or solo men. Where it gets interesting is the preferences of heterosexual women; they like watching women, solo and together. They also like watching men and women, but any assumption there is a parity, or a kind of lateral gender inversion, essentially something only partially reversed as in a mirror, in heterosexuality, is wrong.

    The paradox is heterosexual women being sexually aroused by images of women.

    What's up with that, I wonder.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,089 ✭✭✭Lavinia


    Not sure I fully understand the question?

    I believe the images used in advertising (also videos) are triggering the pleasure response in people that they then subconsciously associate with the advertised product.

    At least that can be the thought of those who use sexually arousing images or messages in their ads.

    For me personally it can have exactly opposite effect - depending on way it has been done.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Labarbapostiza


    Lavinia wrote: »
    Not sure I fully understand the question?

    I believe the images used in advertising (also videos) are triggering the pleasure response in people that they then subconsciously associate with the advertised product.

    That's the idea.
    At least that can be the thought of those who use sexually arousing images or messages in their ads.

    The aim isn't always sexual arousal. The narrative in a washing powder ad, can be buy this powder and you will be a good mother. There's always a corollary to that kind of narrative, and that is if you don't buy the powder you're a bad mother. There's an effort at socialising the consumer.

    For me personally it can have exactly opposite effect - depending on way it has been done.

    Different individuals respond differently to the ads. I find them very hard to watch.

    Same with individuals and their sexuality. If you talk to one person, you'll get one persons perspective. If you find a way to study a larger group, you can get a radically different picture. It was assumed in the past women did not have a taste for pornography, because so few purchased it. And because of vocal opponents of pornography. After internet usage became more widespread the consumption by gender has evened out. So..what exactly happened. Did women always have the same taste for pornography as men, but didn't purchase for social reasons, or has something else happened.

    A big question in sociology, that some presumptive people have assumed to answer, is the degree to which sexuality is the result of socialisation. Have heterosexual women been socialised into being aroused by images of other women. Or, does it have nothing to do with socialisation.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 8,089 ✭✭✭Lavinia


    The aim isn't always sexual arousal.
    Of course not but I am talking about those specifically, as I understood the OP asked about that in particular.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Labarbapostiza


    Lavinia wrote: »
    Of course not but I am talking about those specifically, as I understood the OP asked about that in particular.

    McCleneghan's assertion about Glamour and Cosmo is "sex sells". What specifically is the "sex" in these magazines that they are selling.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Science, Health & Environment Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 47,236 CMod ✭✭✭✭Black Swan


    McCleneghan's assertion about Glamour and Cosmo is "sex sells". What specifically is the "sex" in these magazines that they are selling.
    Attwood, F (2005), Fashion and Passion: Marketing Sex to Women (Sexualities vol. 8 no. 4 pp 392-406) suggests that "women are increasingly targeted as sexual consumers" in clothing fashions, body pleasure products, "Sex and the City" episodes and films, etc. Increased sexual consumerism (i.e., "pornographication" of mainstream media) has occurred during the late 20th Century and expands into the 21st, with the historically new social construction of a markedly different role and expressed sexuality for women.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,089 ✭✭✭Lavinia


    Black Swan wrote: »
    Increased sexual consumerism (i.e., "pornographication" of mainstream media) has occurred during the late 20th Century and expands into the 21st, with the historically new social construction of a markedly different role and expressed sexuality for women.
    I couldn't agree more with this statement, I was calling it "sexualization" though.
    The thing is that after a while I really didn't like that the media is targeting my sexuality feelings as i wanted to stay "un-infected" and started feelig those as harassment. I do not want to have to deal with sexual energies 24/7 and found those really intruding and so - it had counter effect on me.
    I realized if I want to stay away from that I pretty much have to switch off the media - magazines, TV ads and so on.

    I live much happier this way. I even feel a little sorry for male these days as they have much stronger response to visual stimuli, and also have stronger sexual 'urges' in the first place.


  • Banned (with Prison Access) Posts: 963 ✭✭✭Labarbapostiza


    Black Swan wrote: »
    Attwood, F (2005), Fashion and Passion: Marketing Sex to Women (Sexualities vol. 8 no. 4 pp 392-406) suggests that "women are increasingly targeted as sexual consumers" in clothing fashions, body pleasure products, "Sex and the City" episodes and films, etc. Increased sexual consumerism (i.e., "pornographication" of mainstream media) has occurred during the late 20th Century and expands into the 21st, with the historically new social construction of a markedly different role and expressed sexuality for women.

    No, I wouldn't agree with her idea there. The objectification of sexual desire to sell products/objects, is not something unique to the late 20th century. Neither are body pleasure products. You can go back to beginning of human civilisation and across many cultures and you will find all of these things. Art objects absolutely depend on intangible features they have been imbued with; subjectivity is literally the untouchable, but fragments of subjectivity can be superimposed on objects; an example being painting. Erotic features may be obvious, but they can be sublimated. A good example are depictions of Christ on the cross. The basic image has been repeated so often, that by comparison features are more readily apparent. They're often deeply erotic, with Jesus in the throws orgasm of excruciating agony and ecstasy.

    Feona is very wrong. There is a very complex modulation of features, let's call them subjective features, nebulous and intangible, of which we can comment on the presence or absence of their projections onto objects, through time. It's not something static, or something that is only increasing. And one of the most interesting places you see this modulation, is by comparing American and British magazines over the last 50 years or so. And some of these magazines had both a British and American edition, the editorial choices, the difference can tell you a lot about the culture. And you can see cultural shifts.

    If you look at 1950s magazines from both, you'll see women presented as sexless home makers. In the 1960s, the American magazines became much racier, the British stick to their knitting patterns. Then by the late 80s, a really radical switch occurs. The English magazines become racy, and the Americans go all Martha Stuart.

    I don't know what to say as regards to Attwood's paper; it has a slight appearance of an anxiety ladened and apocalyptic, form of erotic literature in itself. An unstated endpoint being young woman writhing in sexual ecstasy on the floors of churches, in a state of demonic possession, spitting accusations of witchcraft, creepiness, and micro-aggressions.


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