“SEX ‘R’ US”
Douglass writes the American sex culture, focusing on how it affects young women. She talks about how our society is paradoxical. On the one hand, our society tells us not to talk about our sexual habits, and on the other hand, society is full of sex (on TV, ads, buses etc.). “SEX ‘R’ US” is a clever chapter. Douglass brings up different points effectively and humorously. On the first page she writes how right-wing conservatives religious groups and liberal feminists actually agree on one thing: sex.
Douglass introduces a new term for us in this chapter, the sexpert. This is new female icon is very comfortable with sex and talks about it all the time (or just be Carrie from Sex and the City). The sexpert is confusing because she is suppose to be on equal footing with men when it comes to sex, but this is the only thing she is actually equal to men with. There is a thought that sexual equality means economic and political equality, which Douglass disproves. The sexpert can be dangerous though, not to men, but to young girls. Douglass devotes a lot of the chapter talking about how young girls are being told to be sexperts too young. She looks at shows like Toddlers and Tiaras and Calvin Klein ads. Young girls are being displayed as sexy before they can even legally have sex. I don’t think that six year olds are empowered by getting to put high heels on. I also don’t think that anyone will have good self-esteem if the way to be happy is to be a beauty queen by age three.
“SEX ‘R’ US” goes on to talk about the media and its role in creating this sexpert. Douglass compares the power of magazines, television, movies, and music. Magazines like Cosmo and Mazim give advice to their different audiences about how to “get the guy/girl” and “become beautiful instantly.” TV, movies, and music also support the image of the sexpert and how by being beautiful and an expert on sex, you are equal. Douglass also relates the personal story of how she saw a college boy wearing an inappropriate shirt. She gives this as an example of how our society allows sexism in daily life because we think it no longer matters. (On a side note this story made me laugh because one of my guy friends at Colgate has a shirt that says: “Fuck Bitches, Get Money” on it).
Douglass makes the point of how sex is at once exuded by our culture and also kept under the raps. Young girls can read about “How to become instantly sexy” but are not taught about safe sex in schools. It is how females are sexualized that is the problem; instead of having sexual liberation, it is more: do everything you should/can do to get Mr. Right.
“Why Black Sexual Politics?”
Collins begins this chapter describing black sexual icons from different generations. She then goes on to explain how black men and women are stereotyped through their sexuality. There are differences with how they are sexualized though. Black women are excitingly different from white women with their “booties” and their wild sex drives. Black men are also considered to have a wild sexuality, but to go with their wild sex side is their wild violent side.
Collins focuses on how black people are repressed in society today. She makes the argument that racism has not lessened rather it has just changed. She looks at capitalism, class and politics. This new racism is not obvious and so harder to fight than the Jim Crow laws were. I have read arguments similar to this, and one author called it “color-blind racism” which I think aptly describes the new racism that permeates our society.
“Why Black Sexual Politics?” looks at how Western culture is filled with sexuality and at the same time is very repressive. Collins and Douglass both make the same argument that sex is at once everywhere and not openly talked about. Adolescents should be taught about safe sex instead of just seeing it on a billboard. Sex sells so there is no way that adolescents will not be exposed to it, thus it is unreasonable to not want sex education because kids should not know about sex. Sex is all around us in society; not talking openly about does not change that.
Collins goes on to talk about how technology supports racism and sexism. She points to different TV shows such as The Montel Williams Show and Jerry Springer. These shows support the stereotypes surrounding blacks and their sexuality.
She finishes the chapter with the thought that until our society stops being repressive racially and sexually then we will not move forward.