Date of Graduation

Spring 2009

Degree

Master of Arts in Religious Studies

Department

Religious Studies

Committee Chair

John Schmalzbauer

Keywords

Christian, religion, evangelical, sex, sexuality, pornography, sex toy, marital aid, lingerie, body, gender, identity, Web site, Internet

Subject Categories

Religion

Abstract

Contributing to the corpus of research on religion and sexuality as well as studies of the body, this thesis introduces and analyzes the overlooked and recent phenomenon of Christian sex toy and lingerie Web sites. This project begins by historically contextualizing these eighteen marital aid ministries to find that the sites are new variations of past cultural, sexual, and religious trends to cater to both body and soul. This innovative renegotiation of religion, sex, and the Internet, however, is cause for many to question the normative Christian identity of the sites and the religious legitimacy of the activities they promote. To ensure an authentic Christian character, the sites articulate their religious identity by employing various Christian-making strategies, which are discussed. Advancing their Christian cause, marital aid ministries censor their sites by using several techniques so as to make them "non-pornographic." For Christian shoppers, images of bodies are often graphically manipulated, as this thesis shows, to desexualize advertisements and keep sex within its appropriate place, i.e., the marriage bed. This study demonstrates that efforts to desexualize Web site content target the female form (rather than the male) as the primary site for regulation. An examination of this disparity reveals a cultural understanding of females as stimulators and males as stimulated. My analysis reveals that the overall function of these sites is to disjoin received and internalized associations of sex, shame, and sin so as to forge a more righteous path toward bodily salvation where marital sex is celebrated and Christian ways are not compromised.

Copyright

© Miles Adam Park

Campus Only

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