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(Im)perishable Pleasure, (In)destructible Desire: Sexual Themes in U.S. and English News Coverage of Male Circumcision and Female Genital Cutting.

J Sex Res. 2014 Sep 25:1-16. [Epub ahead of print]

(Im)perishable Pleasure, (In)destructible Desire: Sexual Themes in U.S. and English News Coverage of Male Circumcision and Female Genital Cutting.

Carpenter LM, Kettrey HH.

ABSTRACT

Under what conditions do sexual pleasure and desire get addressed in news coverage of sexual health issues like female genital cutting (FGC) and male circumcision (MC)? In this study we employed an embodied ethnosexuality approach to analyze sexual themes in 1,902 items published from 1985 to 2009 in 13 U.S. and 8 English newspapers and news magazines. Journalists’ discussions of sexual pleasure, desire, control, problems, and practices differed in quantity and quality depending on the practice and nation to which they pertained. News coverage in both nations presented FGC as impeding female sexual pleasure, desire, and activity in ways that reinforce (hetero)sexist understandings of sexuality. The English press depicted MC as diminishing male sexuality, whereas U.S. papers showed it as enhancing male sexuality. These patterns are influenced by, and serve to reinforce, cultural norms of embodiment and ethnosexual boundaries based on gender, race, and nationality. They may, in turn, shape public understandings of FGC and MC as social problems.

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