Title: Masculinity, Male Sexual Identity, Pornography and Popular Culture – Does it matter
where you are from?
Let's talk about sex, baby
Let's talk about you and me
Let's talk about all the good things
And the bad things that may be
- Salt-N-Pepa, ‘Let’s talk about sex’, 1990
Salt-N-Pepa may have made sex the central issue of one of their hit songs, ‘Let’s talk
about sex’, but that does not mean that meaningful discussion about sex has become more
liberal and open in the public domain. As modern and forward the society might be, sex and
sexuality is still an issue that is not easy to broach. More often than not, when there are
discussions about sex and/or sexuality in popular culture, it is featured with comedic
undertones or perpetuating stereotypes regarding the issue or come across as being preachy.
Viewers hardly get anything out of it because it is either laughed off or brushed off without any
serious regard for the topic.
The lack of insightful or significant understanding of sex as something more than a
physical act is exacerbated when we introduce the topic of pornography into the equation. A
provocative topic, pornography has sparked many an intellectual debate that range from its
impact on health, relationships, standard of community decency, sexuality education, among
other things. However, the greatest debate that surrounds this controversial issue has
undeniably been and continues to be the effects it has on women. Even then, there has not been
a consensus about the relation between pornography and women. There have been contentious
opinions about whether pornography has brought about damaging repercussions to women and
their lives or it has, on the contrary elevated women’s opportunities to embrace their sexuality.
Needless to say, much of the academic discussion on pornography has brought in
aspects of how women have been affected by its proliferation. This has left very little discussion
about how men and their lives have been affected by pornography. Where men and
pornography are studied, men are often portrayed as having the upper hand over women, who
at the end of the day, stand to gain the most from pornography, whether economically – as
producers of pornographic materials – or in terms of sexual pleasure – as consumers of these
materials. There has been a dearth of academic research on how pornography has shaped men’s
lives and their self-perception the way that pornography has moulded the ways that women
As such, it would be illuminating to discover how the male identity, particularly their
sexual identity, has been affected by their usage of pornography. Further, seeing that popular
culture has increasingly incorporated pornographic elements, its impact on masculinity can also
be examined. At this juncture, the concept of masculinity would be constrained to that of
normative heterosexual masculinity.
The role of pornography and popular culture in constructing male sexuality
While much has b...