Sex Sells

Two weeks ago, I spent a session of my Intro to Communication Studies course analyzing with my students the front page of CNN.  As we perused the offerings on the front page, examining the article titles, their relationships to one another, use of font and pictures, etc., one of the things that the students noticed very quickly was the frequency of items related to sex.  In a time when there is war, poverty, national disaster, financial crisis, and so on in large scale around the world, the vast majority of headlines on the page were related to sex, popular culture stars, and the combination thereof.  Students were simultaneously appalled and chagrined, as they noted that its horrible that this is how we think of news, but at the same time that they are as likely as anyone to read articles with such titillating headlines.

It’s easy to think that yoga news would be immune from this, but in reading many many blogs over the last couple of years, I would say that this isn’t the case.  Yoga blog posts that appear to get the largest readership and comments are those that are either designed to provoke controversy among yogis or are somehow connected to sex.  Posts promise better sex through yoga, detail the sexual behavior of various yogis, debate the extent to which yoga will give one a “hot bod” or “yoga butt,” contain mildly or extremely explicit photographs (typically involving young women in some state of undress… often apparently engaging in a style of partner yoga).  And this all while we protest that others misunderstand yoga and think of it as being either stretching, a new age cult, or some sort of sex club.  Hmmm…

Sexuality is certainly an important part of our humanity, but how does the use of sex to “sell” our yoga news connect to the yama of brahmacharya?  Does it?  Is there sexual restraint in this reveling in the sexuality of yoga?  Is there something mutually uplifting about the gaze of the viewer on images of yoga bodies in sexual dress?  Does any of this matter?  I guess I don’t know.  The people involved are all, apparently, adults, and no one is being forced to read.  But, it’s certainly worth thinking about what the message is and whether it is what we want it to be.

What do you think?

p.s. I tried to find a cute cartoon to add to this post, but they were all a little too sexy!

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7 Responses to Sex Sells

  1. Olivia says:

    Remember when you were a teen and your parents or the parents of others would say, everything is about sex or sex is mentioned everywhere and they would be appalled? As a teen you would laugh and say so what, you had to have it to have your kids. But now as an adult, I am appalled at how everything ties to the most primeval or is it primordial whatever action which is sex. Is it just a psychological thing or is it just the “taboo” (morality) of the act which makes mentioning it interesting?

    I admit at times when I watch television and some comedian starts joking about sex, sometimes it just gets old and I switch channels. I think in this day and age of instant and all around media. Everything is just everywhere. And this got me thinking, maybe I will practice just a certain day of the week to just stay off the internet to clear my mind.

  2. Olivia says:

    I just remember as a teen the adults would complain how sex sells and everything just pointed to sex. I thought it was funny because why would you complain when you had to have it to have your kids, right? And now as an adult I see their viewpoint, mostly due to how much more thanks to the changing media that we are exposed too. I too sometimes find myself appalled at how sex has to be mentioned on something that really didn’t need it but like you said sex sells. The most primordial act gets the most attention which can be just a psychological animal instinct in us. And as the most developed brain (some of us) we have the choice to just ignore it or get to us.

    Maybe, someday people should just choose a certain day to stay off the net just to “meditate” or clear their mind.

    Oops kinda got off subject. But you know what I mean. Good post!

  3. theveganasana says:

    Testing 1 2 3

  4. Om La La says:

    Having just written a post on this topic myself, I feel that as yoga becomes more mainstream so has its image. Furry, old indian men just can’t cut it anymore next to glossy, photoshopped ads of fit toned models selling Powerplate or Kickboxing. This topic is in itself really complex- on the one hand, Yoga is drawing on a visual vocabulary that aims to sell, but on the other, this seems to also be a certain element of hypocrisy that contradicts what you mentioned of Brahmacharya and the like.

    What I’m left questioning is is it necessary for a little ‘bad’ (i.e sexual appeal) to be exercised if it achieves the greater good of drawing people to Yoga? Or does it just not have a place at all if it funs absolutely opposed to the integrity of Yoga?

    Maybe at the end of the day this is something out of the hands of the consumers because nude bodies or not, the nakedness has worked to the advantage of many yoga labels out there.

    Loving this debate about the politics of visual imagery in Yoga! Woot woot!


  5. Erik says:

    With yoga, I think that it has turned into big business. It has become more about marketing, selling, buying the latest clothes, etc., rather than the 8 limbs.

  6. theveganasana says:

    Hmmm… testing the comments function as they seem to be disappearing!

  7. keishua says:

    Sex sells but at a price. I think there is a difference in sensuality and exploitative behaviors and that maybe the issue. For me, yoga is great to get into with your sensual nature but it cheapens it(for me) to just concentrate on that. If you see marketing as tools of power and control the whole things can get out of whack and make it about something it does not need to be about. When you look at the gaze on the “yoga body” whose gaze it and what does that gaze mean….yes, I think things can be read multiple ways, so it is not cut and dry.

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