More Sex! Better Sex! Sex is F*cking Brilliant! Sex, Sex, Sex, SEX

Smith, Clarissa (2013) More Sex! Better Sex! Sex is F*cking Brilliant! Sex, Sex, Sex, SEX. In: The Routledge International Handbook of Leisure Studies. Routledge, London, pp. 325-336. ISBN 0415697174

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Key to the development of a ‘pornotopia’ has been the rise of sexual consumerism centred on ‘feminine’ sensibilities, for example, the visibility of chic sexual products - expensive lingerie and luxury sex toys - sold in glamorous sex shops modelled on stylish boutiques emphasize their designer credentials and reaffirm nostalgic ideas of ‘secrecy’ and ‘privacy’ wrapped up in ‘affordable luxury’ (Juffer, 1998).

These expressions of young women’s sexual interests are often condemned as deriving from pornified culture but we argue they are more complex than the ‘effects’ complaints might suggest; there is no doubt that sexual freedom has not consigned sexism to the bin and the emotional outfalls of casual relationships are as painful as they ever were but the idea of these interests as simply an effect of sexualisation is one which cannot find anything positive in more open attitudes and more aggressively expressed interests in sex. How can we open up debate about active female sexualities and their materialization in culture, how do we understand the complexities of sexualisation, commodification, objectification and, crucially, subjectification in the expressions of new sexual sensibilities and their hedonistic pursuits?

Although increasingly mainstream, this new sexual hedonism draws on some previously quite marginal sexual sensibilities. The first of these is derived from sex-positive and sex-radical writing and practice devoted to the reclaiming of sexual pleasure and to a revaluation of reviled practices such as masturbation, S/M, the use of pornography and sex work. The second is drawn from gay cultures, emphasising the celebration of diversity and the creation of communities based around sexuality. The third is a ‘playboy’ sensibility, embodied in the development of media and leisure spaces focused on straight men’s entertainment.

Although quite different in many ways, all these share a view of sex as a valid source of effort, play and work, and all have become more visible in contemporary popular culture. If Playboy can be understood as the forerunner of much of the lifestyle media and the mainstream leisure venues that are currently aimed at men, most obviously in men’s magazines and the ‘gentlemen’s clubs’ (Osgerby, 2001), then it has also had significant impact on the ways in which women might view sex. A sex positive/sex-radical stance is evident in the sexy form of mainstream postfeminism embodied by performers such as Madonna and Lady Gaga. Gay lifestyles have been mainstreamed as a form of cosmopolitan leisure and conspicuous consumption.

Item Type: Book Section
Subjects: Social Sciences > Health and Social Care
Culture > History and Politics
Media > Media and Cultural Studies
Social Sciences > Sociology
Social Sciences
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries
Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries > School of Media and Communications
Depositing User: Clarissa Smith
Date Deposited: 21 Mar 2016 12:06
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2019 15:38
ORCID for Clarissa Smith: ORCID iD

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