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Barton's new book explores the harmful effects of 'The Pornification of America'

Dr. Bernadette BartonDr. Bernadette Barton, professor of sociology and director of the gender studies program at Morehead State, has released a new book that explores the sexualization of culture.  

Barton's Book, "The Pornification of America: How Raunch Culture is Ruining Our Society," details how Western culture has become hypersexualized and how that is harmful to society, young people in particular. Barton explains raunch culture, which she describes as the entrance of overtly sexualized attitudes, mores and behaviors into the mainstream culture. Barton explained that researchers first noticed the emergence of raunch culture in the mid-1990s and its influence has only increased since then.  

Barton said she first became interested in studying raunch culture from an academic perspective after hearing students' stories in her sociology classes.  

"I have listened as year after year students shared stories that vividly illustrate the negative consequences of abstinence-only sexual education, increasingly violent pornography, bro-culture, and the Instagram arms-race to be the most perfect. Over and over, I observed raunch culture to be the root of these and other social dysfunctions," Barton said. 

Because of those dysfunctions, Barton said Millennials and members of Generation Z struggle with low self-esteem, internalized sexism, misogyny, pressure to be perfect, jealousy, insecurity, stalking, assault and a lack of romantic intimacy.  

"Raunch culture is harmful because it is sexist, not because it is sexy. It sets expectations that women dress provocatively and appear always ‘up’ for sex while encouraging everyone to sexually objectify women," Barton said. "We see raunch culture everywhere in our porn nation. It's on our phones, in the mall, in magazines, movies, and television, in music lyrics and videos, in comedy material, on billboards, bus advertisements, and bumper stickers, on t-shirts, in video games and comic books, in hookup culture, at parties and nightclubs, and in conversations."  

Barton's book is available now through the New York University Press. The book is available locally at CoffeeTree Books in Morehead. It was featured in the New York Times’ New and Noteworthy Books section on March 9, which described the book as, “zippy and well illustrated, this book persuasively argues that ‘equating hypersexualization with sex positivity is a form of Orwellian doublespeak.’” 

The Camden-Carroll Library and MSU's Gender Studies Program will host a virtual book launch party Wednesday, April 14, from 4 to 5 p.m. To attend, visit before the event's start time.  

To learn more about sociology programs at MSU, visit, email Associate Dean Dr. Dianna Murphy, at or call 606-783-2656.