Portuguese youngsters, new media and sexuality – information, activism and pleasure-seeking experiences

Authors

Daniel Cardoso (FCSH - UNL / ECATI - ULHT)

Cristina Ponte (FCSH - UNL)

 

Abstract

This research, conducted in the context of a PhD thesis, tries to extend the notion of “sexualized usages of (new) media” beyond the tropes of pornography and sexting, by also taking in consideration the search for information on sexual and reproductive health, as well as online forms of activism and networking. Drawing from a snowball sample of about 180 Portuguese youngsters between the ages of 16 and 19 years old that responded to an online survey spread through Facebook and also through several NGOs, we analyze the similarities and differences between genders in how they interact with these technologies, as well as to how they view the importance of both sexuality and sexual usages of new media in their lives. Preliminary results of the quantitative part of this research point to how gender impacts youngsters’ lives by generating different modes of usage of new media, which means that similarities and differences coexist. Results regarding the usage of the internet and mobile phones to exchange sexual messages, and to access fora, sexual content and health/sexual information will be explored. These results will be presented alongside existing international research, and read in the context of Foucault’s work on the sexuality dispositif, and the current debate about sexualization (Smith & Attwood, 2011) and pornographication (Smith, 2010), arguing for a more nuanced view of the interactions between media and its users (McKee, 2005; 2007; 2009; 2010; 2012) and against simplistic models of media effects (McKee, 2009). These results hope to point out the need for a more integrated approach to what sexualized means, beyond the articulation of media panics over sexuality and youngsters.

Keywords: sexualization, pornography, new media, youngsters, sexting, Foucault

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