Sexuality In Popular Media Cultural Studies Essay

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Sociologists, and other social scientists, distinguish between the concepts of sex and gender. For sociologists, sex refers to the biological state of being male or female (with a recognition that some are born with genitalia that falls outside this dichotomy), and gender refers to the meaning that society attaches to biological sex. For example, boys are generally expected to be physically strong and active, while girls are expected to be sweet and quite. Researchers have found many examples of how parents and teachers perceive same behaviors from girls and boys differently based on gender expectations. These different perceptions from others result in girls and boys internalizing different perceptions of them.

In addition to learning gender roles from parents, peers, and teachers, we also receive messages about what it means to be male or female from the media. Many times, at the same time we learn gender role expectations, we also learn messages about sexuality. Much has been written about gender and sexuality images in the media. Everything from Disney movies, commercials, television situation comedies, action movies, professional wrestling, and the daily news, has messages about gender and sexuality in our society.

For this assignment, students will conduct analysis of gender role and sexuality messages in the media by exploring two internet sites, one aimed at a female audience and other aimed at a male audience.

Read Chapter 9 to orient yourself to the sociological concepts of sex, gender, gender identity, gender roles, and sexuality.

Visit the following websites: and

While viewing each website, conduct an analysis of the sites (take notes) by answering the following questions:

What messages do these sites contain about gender roles?

How are women supposed to look, act, and/or think?

How are men supposed to look, act, and/or think?

What messages do these sites contain about "romantic" or "sexual" relationships?

Are these messages different for women and men?

What similar phrases are used to describe gender or sexuality?

What patterns do you see?

Compare the patterns you see here to your own experience.

What is your reaction to your findings?


After taking notes on the activities described above, post two paragraphs that summarize your findings.

Review the posts of your fellow students and respond to 2 of them.


1. These sites show that men and women are sexy looking always. The women are skinny and have big breasts. The men are sexy looking as well they have six packs. They also promote sex. It shows you how to have better sex and it shows you how to get a date and how to keep a man. It will always depend on the type of magazine you get. They have different ones that help men get women and learn things and certain magazines for women that show a women how to be sexy and what to do to be sexy.

I don't like these magazines because they make it seem as if all women should be skinny. Other magazines can be degrading to women. I will admit if I see the book in line while I'm in line at grocery store I will read a couple of the articles. So that shows that they get peoples attention. All books show that women are beautiful and not all women are this beautiful all the time.

2. The sites contain sexy women and masculine men. Women are supposed to look hot by wearing skimpy things and men are supposed to work out and always look good. The sites contain messages like "how to pick up women", "how to drive him wild", "the naughtiest sex tips of the year" "why sex is magic". These messages are about the same for men and women, except one is teaching you how to act, please, and how to entertain men, and one is teaching you about women.

The pattern I see is that women are trying to impress men and don't know how and vice versa. I think this is true but I don't think the things in the magazines are very accurate. I'm a shy person so I wouldn't do 90% of the things they suggest you do to get a man, keep a man, or please a man! I'm not really surprised of my findings because these magazines are pretty popular and sex sells!

3. In both of these web sites it exploits men and women in all kinds of ways. They make women look like goddess and men as masculine. They both go in great detail in how to make your mate or your active should be by giving to tips and positions in how does this. Making women and men a like in ways to were sexy clothes to what type of body oils you should use. Going further in how to pick up the perfect mate and keep them, by either with money or status. Its focus is on how we should look and feel to make us all thing and do the same things to better oneself.

I can see their point in some matters but I feel that people are not like this. We all do not look the same or able to do some of these things they say we should do. What happen to our self-respect and morels that was taught by our parents many years ago? I feel these magazines are degrading to most people today because we all are different and live different. I am a very quiet person that believes in my morels and self-esteem. I do not need the acts portrayed in these magazines to make my life better. I am old fashion and believe in my values.

I have found over my life time, that many people have, of course, wondered why allegedly "natural" roles should need such rigorous social enforcement. After all, if they were truly natural, they would "come naturally" to both men and women. However, it is noteworthy that the advocates of the so-called natural inequality of the sexes resent nothing more than letting "nature" take its course.

The truth being said that human desires and capacities have a tendency to go beyond the narrow limits of our traditional gender roles. I feel the magazines send a wrong conclusion drawn from false assumptions.

4. Our society has a very strong set of what is expected out of men and what is expected out of women. It is important for each to follow these guidelines for the most part otherwise one may have a difficult time fitting in in our culture. Those who do not follow these guidelines are often seen as "weird" and could have difficulty finding a job or communicating on a regular level with others.

Men are expected to be tougher and more independent. Men internalize their issues and it is seen as weak to share feelings. Women present themselves are more social creatures by openly relying on other people. When looking at these sites it is clear what stereotypes they are appealing towards. On maxim they focus on pictures of women, stories about cars and other perceived masculine things. The women's site has articles about fashion and gossip, as well as sexual advice but less photos than the man's magazine. All of the things that these sites focus on are seen as weird for the other gender to be interested in. these magazines are similar in their intent their content is polar opposite.

5. I know it's kind of strange, but I haven't paid much attention to these magazines. During my research, they made me smile, even laugh at times with articles titled such as "Stuff her Stocking," "How to Give Her the Best Sex Ever," "My Guy Can't Get Enough When I…," and "Bad-Girl Sex Tricks," it was hard to keep a straight face as they tried to convince me that by reading these articles I too could become a "Sexual Tyrannosaurs in Bed."

While one magazine was aimed towards women and the other towards men, I found that the message of both these magazines was similar. By consistently using male and female models between the ages of 21 to 30, they target and cater to young adults, often focusing on the superficial and vaguely touching or completely skipping deeper more meaningful subjects all together. They seemed to say, "Be young and beautiful, live in the now, enjoy sex and have fun doing it." Their message and focus is on what sells. Along with that, they are selling their myopic view of what men and women should be.

A pattern I see in all of this is that both men and women are exploited in the guise of entertainment. Women will continue and be expected to make themselves these desirable attractive sexual creatures, who must be wooed by physically masculine men with 6-packed abs all along furthering the agenda of these magazines. Unfortunately, many of America's adults will fall for these lofty Photoshop'd versions of the new modern male and female in the attempt to impress each other to the point of self-exploitation..

6. Cosmopolitan is aimed to appeal to young upper middle-class white women. The advertisements include expensive, name brand fashion and beauty products. The images in these advertisements are mainly thin, white, and attractive women. In comparison, Maxim is aimed at young teenage boys and college aged men. The advertisements focus on fashion, alcohol, sports, video games and cars. They use sexually charged images to engage the viewer.

The stereotypes of women exist in the media because of the hegemony of men in the media field and the marketing value of idealizing a notion of beauty. Women spend tremendous amounts of money on obtaining the ideal look designated by the media while men gain a position of power in society by constructing the myth that women must fit into their fantasy world to be accepted.

7. Both Cosmopolitan & Maxim give dating and sex advice on how to please the opposite sex. They both display that women are supposed to have skinny figures wearing skimpy clothes. Both websites try to show their readers that less is best. Both websites also show that men are supposed to have a firm masculine build, wearing stylish clothes, with the latest haircuts.

Besides their view on how women should look, they display a woman's role is to look beautiful and to please her man. If she currently isn't with a man they give tips on how to lure a man in. Their role is to look beautiful with the latest hair styles, make up, and clothing.

Besides their view on how a man's body should look they show a man's role is to please his women and himself. Maxim displays many pictures of half dressed women, jokes which some are degrading to women, & are supposed to entertain themselves with half dressed women, TV, movies, music, gaming, and sports. Both website display how to please the opposite sex in romantic and sexual encounters. They are both different in how they bring across this message. Cosmopolitan shows how women are supposed to please their man and Maxim shows how a man can please a woman and himself. Cosmopolitan gives tips on sex AND dating while Maxim only gives tips on sex and NOT dating.