Sex, power, and the real problem with ‘raunch’

It has been called the ‘Age of Raunch’, ‘Generation Sex’, the age of the S.L.U.T (Sexually Liberated Urban Teen); so-called ‘raunch culture’ is a recurring theme of recent media and public debate.

Raunch culture, or the sexualisation of culture, is of course one part of a whole range of social changes that we’ve seen post the 1970s ‘sexual revolution’, and certainly many of those changes have been positive.

They’ve been associated with greater access to information about sexual health for example, and a somewhat greater acceptance of diverse sexualities. We can certainly talk more openly about sexual issues now than perhaps we could several decades ago.

Indeed, many claim raunch culture is itself representative of women’s newfound sexual freedom; evidence that the equality feminism fought for has been achieved.

In our current culture, everything about raunch – we’re told – is empowering for women. Stripping is empowering for women; pornography is empowering; exposing one’s naked body in public à la Lady Gaga is empowering; female elite athletes’ posing nude for FHM and Sports Illustrated magazine is, again, empowering.  All of these examples, we’re told, show women that they can be comfortable in their bodies and with their sexuality.

Engaging in raunch is taken to prove that you are liberated. After all, isn’t enjoying this new sexual freedom what women’s equality has been all about?

There is however another interpretation of raunch culture as a kind of ‘faux empowerment’ or ‘the new sexism’, and the emphasis on so-called liberation, on ‘free choice’, is part of its allure.

Read more at The Scavenger…