Sexy like a Fox: Sex on Television News

Debbie says:

Outfoxed is a well-respected documentary (which I haven’t seen) which attempts to show the quality of journalism on Fox News, Rupert Murdoch’s conservative politics and popular entertainment channel.

In this two-minute video montage, Outfoxed director Robert Greenwald takes clips from both stock footage and interviews, all specifically from Fox News, showing pornographic imagery, interviews with half-naked women, and readings (both “censored” and not) from porn prose, all in the name of news.

The easy shot is the one Greenwald takes, at Fox itself. And he’s hardly wrong.

The standard feminist shot is “how dare they use women’s bodies to sell product, or to sell themselves?” All the networks do it, though Fox perhaps does it the most. And that’s hardly wrong.

But I’ve watched the montage a couple of times now, and what I keep thinking is that it’s not shocking, and not especially titillating, and (most surprising of all) not surprising. Sexy images, and expanses of bare female flesh (young, white, smooth, tanned) have become so common that there’s nothing odd about seeing them on the news. Okay, it’s a little strange that Fox Business is having a well-known porn star (fully dressed with cleavage) as a special guest. But only a little.

Women’s bodies have been routinely used to sell products and make things more interesting for at least 75 years, if not a great deal longer. And they’ve always been young, attractive, white women’s bodies. So none of that has changed. What’s changed is how much skin we see and how explicit the sexuality of the sales pitch can be. And frankly, I don’t mind that change anywhere near as much as I mind the underlying assumptions and the oversimplification of what’s sexy–and the way that leads people to only noticing an oversimplified set of our own reactions.

Anyone want to make a video which looks just like this one but has all kinds of male and female bodies? That would be surprising. And fun.

television, television news, Fox News, women, feminism, sex, pornography, body image, Body Impolitic

4 thoughts on “Sexy like a Fox: Sex on Television News

  1. I take your point, but for me the issue isn’t so much that Fox is using these images to sell their product, but that they are doing it while having the reputation of being “conservative,” whatever that means these days. Just another illustration of the perverse political alliance of social conservatives with laissez-faire capitalists.

  2. I’ve been wondering since reading this piece what healthy images of bodies and sexuality are out there for children. And yes children do see models of sexuality – tho generally not explicit. Do we shield children and the impressionable in our care from _all_ main stream media?

  3. Patricia,

    I think there are healthy images,but you have to find them and work at exposing your kids to them. It does take real work.

    My experience is that it’s useful to discuss what they see in the media with children and to give them a context for understanding what is sexist and what is exploitive. This means lots of conversations over time.

    And obviously, paying attention to what they watch and doing your best to keep them from as much of the really vile stuff as possible.

  4. Thank you for your reply.

    I ran across this link: http://www.naafa.org/ as a reply to something really insensitive said on a naturalliving group I follow. Just making sure you two know about it.

    No reply needed. I should have sent this to you in an email… but I guess I have chosen not to take the time to do it.

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