Welcome back to another instalment of BCM210 weekly blog posts! This week we analyse the eye-opening article, “Using Digitally Distributed Vulgar Comedy to Reach Young Men with Information about Healthy Sexual Development”. I know what you’re thinking; “Of course, a male has to analyse a text and he naturally chooses the one about sex.” Okay sure, the article is about sex, BUT, it is a rewarding read that delves into the complex and life-changing world of teenage sex education. Plus it was 100000x more exciting than the other articles. (Apologies to all those Academics out there.)
Anyway. Moving on, the article was constructed by three leading figures within this research area; Alan Mckee, Anthony Walsh and Anne-Frances Watson. Alan Mckee is an acclaimed Australian researcher of sexualised media who have colloborated alongside media outlets, such as Channel 9, for shows like Big Brother. His publications have also aroused controversy (if you pardon the pun), such as his investigative research project, “The positive and negative effects of pornography as attributed by consumers“, which surveyed 1,000 people and found a mixed-positive reception of pornography in viewers, which went against the popular belief of it’s negative impacts.
The article writes- Focus groups show that young men do not have available to them the same resources to learn about healthy sexual development as do young women. A collaborative project led by a leading provider of sexuality education aimed to reach young men with information about healthy sexual development by using a genre that focus groups showed they favoured – vulgar comedy.
The article and focus groups were funded by a Queensland Government NIRAP grant, ‘Improved Surveillance, Treatment and Control of Chlamydial Infections’, as part of the states fight against teenage sexual diseases and promoting sexual education amongst teengers, especially young men.
Part of this, such as the following excerpt, highlight the issue male teenagers face in regards to the female atonomy and the knowledge males have, or don’t have-
“It wasn’t until the first time I fingered my first girlfriend when I was a teenager that I realised that there was a bit that it actually went in. Because all I’d seen up to that point was Playboy, which was like this hairy triangle. It wasn’t until we started messing around that I realized – there’s more to this than meets the eye.”
Such a realization shows the contrast between male and female magazines. The article finds that for girls, magazines such as Dolly provide though provoking information for young girls about sexual health, desires and tips. This generates discussion and thinking amongst young women, whereas male magazines generally just have glossy photos of nude women, followed by what turns a girl on. The article also delves into how comedy and adolescent tv shows characterise sex and what is real/false. For example, the article states that comedians reassure young men that puberty and sexual desires are a normal part of growing up. This is shown in statements such as:
“You could be walking through Coles and see a sign saying ‘Ripe Melons’ and you will crack the biggest laugh of your fucking life. Is there something wrong with me? No there’s not. Turn that way – ‘Chicken breasts’ – Fuck!”
This form of vulgar, yet relatable , comedy helps reassure young men that what they’re feeling is a natural process of growing up. Hence, men appear “immature” or “childish” when it comes to sex, sexual innuendos and comedy, whereas females see the more modest reality of it through their magazines.
The article succeeds in delving into how males react to sex and sexual education, and how they come to understanding the inner workings of how hormonal desires. The focus groups opened a “can of worms” worth of information for the researchers, who established that while males are more open about sexual comedy or desires, they also are rather less educated in the area; their main source of information coming from lads magazines and vulgar comedy programs.
Therefore, “Using Digitally Distributed Vulgar Comedy to Reach Young Men with Information about Healthy Sexual Development” is a fascinating research project that succesfully brings to light the growing pains of adolescent sexual education.
Stay Classy UOW,
McKee, Alan; Walsh, Anthony and Watson, Anne-Frances. Using digitally distributed vulgar comedy to reach young men with information about healthy sexual development [online]. Media International Australia, Incorporating Culture & Policy, No. 153, Nov 2014: 128-137. Availability: <http://search.informit.com.au.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/documentSummary;dn=812537793796531;res=IELLCC> ISSN: 1329-878X. [cited 19 Mar 15].
McKee, Alan (2007) Positive and negative effects of pornography as attributed by consumers. Australian Journal of Communication 34(1):pp. 87-104.