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3rd Anniversary: Where does the media stand?

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It’s the last day of our 3YRSEXIS promotion (25% off at checkout with coupon code 3YRSEXIS), and with it comes our final recap of SexIs in years past. The media can play a crucial role in our opinions, at times. Here’s what our authors had to say about Sex in the Media.

  Sex in the News

For better or worse, the past three years have seen some important developments (and regressions) in the sexuality/sexual health department. And we’ve covered much of it in the SexFeed as information became available. Here’s some things that have happened.

Martha Boggs became our favorite Average Joe when she made it perfectly clear what she thinks of ignorant politicians. When Tennessee GOP State Senator Stacey Campfield showed up in her restaurant after making asinine comments about AIDS and the rampant LGBT bullying going on in our schools, Martha flat out refused to serve him and asked him to leave her establishment.

Campfield is the one who sponsored the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would prohibit teachers from discussing homosexuality in the classroom before ninth grade. He also went on Michaelangelo Signorile’s radio show and said, among other things, that bullying is “the biggest lark out there,” that it’s nearly impossible “to contract AIDS from heterosexual sex,” that “AIDS came from the homosexual community – it was one guy screwing a monkey if I recall correctly…” and that the lifespan of a homosexual is “very short.”

Boggs saw the Senator waiting to be seated at her restaurant. She had been following some of his comments, she told the Huffington Post, and in her opinion, he had “crossed the line from being controversial to dangerous.” So Boggs impulsively decided not to serve Campfield. She walked up to him and told him to leave, saying she’d made the decision “just to make a point to him (about) how awful he has been.”

A Toronto police officer proved he had no idea how to handle sexual assault prevention...

While discussing ways women could avoid being sexually assaulted, the junior officer said, “You know I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

And a hush fell over the (ten person) crowd.

..and inadvertently sparked an international movement aptly named the “Slutwalk”.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said the officer underwent “further training” for his stupid comment, but that wasn't good enough for the 1,500 protesters who participated in a “SlutWalk” from Queens Park to College Street. It took two hours, and it was mostly peaceful. Some folks dressed in grade A slut garb. One woman wore see-through black tights with white underwear and no pants. But most of them dressed casually, as they would in day-to-day life.

And for what? Because it's high time we do away with the widely held belief that dressing conservatively can protect you from being sexually assaulted, they say.

President Obama signed the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal into law...

The president again thanked everyone who fought this fight, and brought the U.S. to this moment. He reiterated his belief that this law will strengthen the nation's military and integrity. And he reminded everyone that there are many changes that must be implemented over the coming months before the law takes full effect. But he assured us that the government will not be dragging its heels.

To all men and women who want to serve, and haven't enlisted because of “Don't Ask, Don't Tell,” President Obama said, “That is why I say to all Americans, gay or straight, who want nothing more than to defend this country in uniform, your country needs you. Your country wants you. And we will be honored to welcome you into the ranks of the finest military the world has ever known.”

When he finished expressing his pride and extending gratitude, he sat down, and signed the bill. Then he patted the law in front of him and said, “This is done.” And a cheer went up all over the nation.

...and gave a shout-out to gay soldiers in his State of the Union Address.

President Obama’s State of the Union Address Tuesday night emphasized a need for moving forward together, or not at all, especially in regards to industry and education. And, although the subject of same-sex marriage was avoided by Obama and Republican responder Rep. Paul Ryan, the Commander-in-Chief specifically tipped his hat to the countless gay and lesbian service members fighting overseas for the country they love.

“Our troops come from every corner of this country,” the President said, “They are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American. They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.”

And a precedent was set for criminal conviction of a person who intentionally infects unwitting partners with HIV.

It is not a happy Thanksgiving, at all, for Andre Davis, the ex-professional wrestler also known as the “Gangsta of Love.” A Hamilton County, Ohio, jury yesterday found Davis, 29, guilty on 14 counts of failing to let 11 former sex partners that he tested positive for HIV and he could be sentenced to decades in prison.

Ohio law requires people who test positive for HIV to disclose their test results to potential sex partners. Failure to disclose a positive HIV test constitutes felonious assault, the law says; it doesn’t matter whether or not a sex partner is actually infected. According to a lawyer for Davis, Ohio and Wisconsin are the only two states with such a statute on the books. No evidence was presented during Davis’s trial to indicate that any of his partners had tested positive.

  Sitcoms, Reality TV and Movies

The television and movie business are wholly different in their approach to sex. One look at today’s billing will tell you that. Here are a few shows that are related to sex, or are centered around sex, or have sex scenes in them.

Jersey Shore. Need we say more?

Naturally, Jersey Shore doesn’t carry the thematic weight of a scripted program, but from a sex and gender (and maybe even anthropological) perspective, it’s an absolutely fascinating hour of television. So, instead of weekly in-depth looks at single issues, we’ll be bringing you a list of the top five things that fascinated us about each episode. If you’ve seen any of the show’s three previous seasons, you’ll know that we have some hard choices ahead of us. So let’s go!

No. 5 – Mike’s New Jack Swing It’s no secret that Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is kind of a creep, but in Jersey Shore’s fourth season it seems like he’s really embraced it. In this episode he goes hard at Snooki once he finds out she has a boyfriend, then proceeds to bring home one of the thousands of dopey American college students infesting Florence. Then, later he makes a failed attempt to snuggle with another roommate, Deena. For an unabashed horndog, Sitch definitely loves to cuddle, but what’s most stunning/terrifying is the Boyz II Men-style cane he’s brandishing when he tries to climb in bed with Deena.

What’s with HBO’s seeming sexual conservativism in the series True Blood, anyway?

HBO television series have a reputation for not shying away from either violence or sex, and with copious amounts of both blood and flesh on display each and every week, True Blood is no exception. Couple that with the fact that the show’s creator, Alan Ball, is openly gay and True Blood’s persistent, yet vague, metaphors for all manner of civil rights (discussed here), and it seems reasonable to look at True Blood as a pretty liberal-minded show. So why does it display such a strong streak of sexual conservatism?

Examples can be found throughout the show’s previous three seasons, but this past Sunday night’s episode, “Me and the Devil,” put the finest point on the issue that we have yet seen. After escaping from Hotshot, where he was forced to have sex with countless women against his will, Jason Stackhouse spoke with his good friend Hoyt Fortenberry about the ordeal, wondering if it was perhaps punishment from God for having had too much sex.

Prostitution is rampant in Game of Thrones, a fairly new, fantastical series based on a fantasy novel by American author George R. R. Martin.

It’s temping to use this as a launching point to discuss how the common women in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire must be holy, whores or literally in chains to get by, but that’s an unfair read of the material. I say this partially because of developments later in Game of Thrones as well as in the subsequent novels, but also because it’s a reductive and misguided view that simply equates the viewpoints of fictional characters with those of the author. Most importantly, however, there’s a much more interesting and rich approach to take here than a tired “virgin or vamp” duality.

While it’s true that prostitution is seen as a vice in the world of A Song of Ice and Fire, it’s a legal and even acceptable one, with brothels spread throughout the kingdom of Westeros — from Mole’s Town near the Wall in the north, all the way down south to King’s Landing. What’s most interesting about the sex trade in Game of Thrones, however, is who it ultimately exploits and weakens.

But what does Hollywood have to say about prostitution?

After the Sexual Revolution in the late 1960s, programming on TV began to slowly push the envelope, and storylines about prostitution became less taboo.

While they were by no means explicit, these stories did become more direct in the way they discussed the sex industry. By 1974, Police Woman star Angie Dickenson was acting in episodes where the storylines had her character go undercover as a prostitute in LA.

Two years later, in the 1976 Charlie’s Angels episode “Angels in Chains,” the Angels investigate a country prison farm and a nearby small-town sheriff. Once the girls con their way into the prison farm, they discover that young women without relatives are being arrested, and can’t leave jail unless they exchange their bodies for an “early release.”

Later that year, the Angels went undercover as streetwalkers to investigate a pimp who attacked a young music teacher, and interact with a prostitute who has a mental illness.

These early prostitution storylines would set the standard for how prostitution would be dealt with on TV for decades. The profession was used as a plot device for crime dramas, but rarely as the central premise for a program. The prostitutes were rarely given complex characterizations, often acting as one-dimensional examples of “fallen women.” It would be many more years before complex prostitutes would be shown on television.

Overall, like society, the media seems to be divided on many things related to sex and sexuality. But one thing’s for sure. Even Hollywood seems well on its way to throwing of the guise that we’re not all doing it and exalting sexuality in all its naked glory. And it’s about time.

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