The sexualisation of popular culture: towards a Christian sexual aesthetic
University of Exeter. At the time of publication, the author was at the University of Aberdeen.
G J Palmer & Sons Ltd.
For roughly the last decade, North American sexual mores have undergone an intriguing and paradoxical transformation. This change can be witnessed in both mainline evangelicalism as well as within mainstream American popular culture. While parachurch organisations push for youth-abstinence and argue for increasingly more stringent sexual norms for teens and young adults, popular culture has evinced an increasingly more liberalised understanding of sexuality, including the popularisation of figures and images from adult media and increasingly explicit sexual references in popular music. Though both trends appear to convey antithetical sexual mores, I will argue that underneath these contrasting surface appearances their common fascination with sexual experience reflects an unhealthy trend in both popular culture and popular church towards a privatised and disembodied sexuality. For the Church to respond to an increasingly sexualised culture, it must address her own understanding of human sexuality and the body first. My thesis is a simple one: human sexual experience has become a commodity, a privately consumed good, which is alienated from either the human body or social community.
Summer 2006, pp. 42-56