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Tit for Tat: Sex in Pop Culture No Longer a Man's Game by Zachary Rosenbaum

They prance across the stage roaring and waving their booties in our faces giving their voices to the anthem of our time: sex. Audiences love it and clamor for more. Rihanna is an ambassador for sodomy and masochism, and Nicki Minaj is selling records about her “million dollar hoo-ha.” Selena Gomez wants you to “come and get it.” Lady Gaga dares you to do whatever you want with her body. Female pop stars have arrived at the realization that there are practically no boundaries, and are as willing to blazon and mime their sexual freedom as loudly as any male performer. No apologies. No regrets. Sex has manifested in today’s culture as a raving naked beast let off its leash at long last. Fifty years ago, back when sin was the main reason women covered up, leaving much room for imagination, the expression of sexual desire was all insinuation and innuendo. It crept up on a man quietly. Even celebrity stripper Gypsy Rose Lee never really gave it up entirely. I think of stars like Audrey Hepburn, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland who wowed men with their subtle femininity and womanly charisma; even when dressed seductively, there was still a minimum of bare skin and just a touch of makeup. That was then. Gone are the days of clingy turtleneck sweaters worn over curve-caressing tight skirts, now we get nipple pasties made with duct-tape worn under mesh crop-tops. Try opening up a magazine today and NOT finding a celebrity in her birthday suit, drowning in makeup and airbrush, straddling an article about how to “reach

your climax in bed.” Turn on TV and maybe you’ll catch an episode of HBO’s “Girls;” where Lena Dunham is casually nude, going about her everyday business. Switch over to MTV and witness Miley Cyrus’ newest music video, in which she’s touching herself in bed as she catches it all on a video camera. Anyway, just who popularized the term ‘twerking’ for the masses of viewers with the most vivid demonstration possible on network programming? These goings-on are neither a good thing nor a bad thing. Biologically, humans are designed so that we can “do it,” procreate, and continue our progeny. But what does this say about our society? Media makes sex so casual, which projects an unrealistic image of sex to the masses. Children are the first to pick up on it, which leads

to kids having sex at younger ages and feeling pressured to do so. In many high schools, you’re not cool unless you’re sexually active. I made out with somebody for the first time during a game of Truth or Dare at summer camp and felt obligated to play it cool and make it look like I had done it before. I would much rather have liked it to be with someone I cared about, in a prettier—or at least less tawdry scene. I also stumbled upon pornography at too young an age, and that has provided me with a perception of sex that is downright dirty. The upheaval of female-driven sex appeal has hit a new high in the rap industry. While it was once male-dominated, it’s now plentiful with sassy chicks and a whole lot of sexiness. Lil Kim was the Madonna of rap, paving the way for

female emcees like Azealia Banks and Kreayshawn. Brooke Candy (real name), who’s otherwise known as the “Freaky Princess,” brings sexually-charged rap music to a new level with lyrics like “Slut is now a compliment, a sexy-ass female who’s running shit and confident,” and “my clit leaves em’ in stitches, they be twitchin’ on the floor.” Most importantly, we must talk about Beyoncé Knowles-Carter. She slayed all other female pop stars by surprising the world with a self-titled album release on the eve of Dec. 13, 2013. Nobody knew it was coming, and nobody was ready for this revolution of sexiness. Beyoncé is a married woman and a recent mother, but that doesn’t stop her from baring it all and leaving us speechless with lyrics like “Can you taste the skittle, it’s the sweetest in the middle…pink is the flavor, solve the riddle.” She is asserting a feminine stance when it comes to sexuality by being confident, assertive and boss-like. Sex seems to have become, well… appropriated or colonized by mass media. It’s just not a big deal anymore. Female pop stars have no problem filling us in on their freaky endeavors. I’d like to see how sex-obsessed our country will be in another 50 years, but I suppose we’ll have to wait that one out. Maybe by then the seductive OS-like voice in the current movie “Her” will be more the norm than the exception.

February 2014: The Sex Issue  
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