Sex, Gender, Media Language and Dropping the "Gay Bomb"

This post, written by Bernie Heidkamp, originally appeared on PopPolitics

Sexploitation: 70 percent of the viewers for "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Model" on CW are female. The percentages are pretty much the same for reality shows of the same ilk like "The Ultimate Coyote Ugly Search" and "Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders: Making the Team" on CMT. Is this surprising? According to Erin White of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, it should be, considering that most of these shows "feature scantily-clad females in what many would say are situations that degrade women and turn back the clock on generations of feminist work." Even the CMT executives she interviewed thought the viewers of their shows, which clearly employ a "male gaze," would at least be "pretty evenly split."

To me, however, any surprise at those percentages only reflects a naivete about the way in which corporate capitalism constructs desires and needs. The real question is how many of the female viewers, despite their dismissive statements that the shows are just "guilty pleasures," are looking at the women -- and themselves -- through male eyes.

I Think This Might Be Overdone: Not that we need another article about how men -- can you believe it?!? -- actually like to cook. But Pervaiz Shallwan of the AP reveals a series of noteworthy ways in which the marketing of cooking to men has significantly changed. The Food Network reports that although they from the beginning aimed their programming at women, "men quickly tuned in and now account for half of all viewers." Men's Health magazine reports that while the recipe section used to be the least read (and they sometimes actually left it out), now it's the most popular section -- and they now devote over a quarter of the magazine to food and nutrition. The editors and publishers of Food and Wine and Cooks Illustrated, as well as Rachael Ray, have all also recognized a growing male audience. Even Maxim -- do they have no shame? -- is launching a line of salsa and barbecue sauces.

Of course, all of this says more about the entrenched biases of the cooking and marketing industries than the men themselves -- who never seem to have a problem dominating the kitchen in places they actually pay good money (only 20 percent of professional chefs are women, Shallwan also notes).

That Darn Media: From the latest poll numbers, Hillary seems to be successfuly walking the line between the center right and the left (she's leading among both self-described "liberal democrats" as well as "moderate/conservative democrats"). She also probably considers it a victory to have conservatives like Brent Bozell giving her favorable coverage for her "courage" in taking on Hollywood.

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