Shame, Guilt and Society's Conception of Sex

by Magsig, Hailey M.

Abstract (Summary)
There is a dominant conception of sex in American society that has profound effects on our sexual lives. Often this can be a negative influence because our societys conception is distorted. My thesis considers how this skewed view on sex and sexuality results in the presence of shame and guilt in our sexual lives. I first define societys conception of sex and present it visually through fashion advertising. Each of the pornographic elements (objectification, submission, hierarchy and violence) utilized in advertising are explained. The advertisements are meant to provide a visual portrayal of societys conception of sex, which is relevant to the concept of the gaze; an important aspect of shame. Second, I provide a philosophical account of shame and guilt. I illustrate how our societys conception of sex can instigate these emotions into our sexual lives even though they are often unfounded. Finally, I attempt to resolve the invalid shame and baseless guilt we experience in our sexual lives through the notion of sexual self-respect, which is a variant of the philosophical concept of self-respect. As individuals we have some influence in diminishing the invalid shame and baseless guilt we experience in our sexual lives. However, society has a responsibility to formulate a conception of sex that is more conducive to our actual lived sexual experiences. Therefore, the solution resides in the give and take relationships between the individual and society, between self-respect and respect and between society and the media. I present these changes in societys conception of sex as the possibility of seeing advertising that utilizes erotic elements rather than pornographic elements, and the use of models that more accurately portray us as sexual beings.
Bibliographical Information:

Advisor:Dr. Casey Charles; Dr. Sean O'Brien; Dr. Christopher Preston; Dr. Stephen Grimm

School:The University of Montana

School Location:USA - Montana

Source Type:Master's Thesis



Date of Publication:05/13/2008

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