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midday culture connections

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A warning to listeners who may be tuning in with young children: we will be talking about mature topics today on this edition of Midday Culture Connections.

The sexual assault allegations against powerful men in Hollywood and pretty much every other industry has shined a light on the pervasiveness of predatory sexual behavior. Today, we’ll examine the ways hypersexualized images of women on television, on the internet and in print distort the ways our culture views and treats women. Scholars have called it “pornification.”  

 Pornography dominates the internet. More people view internet porn every month than click on Netflix, Amazon and Twitter combined. So how does pornography affect mainstream popular culture? And how do the images of women we encounter every day affect the ways women view themselves and the ways men view and interact with women?

Royal wedding fever has spread across the pond and here in the United States. Prince Harry, the youngest son of Prince Charles and Princess Diana, will wed American actress Meghan Markle. Along with wedding plans and elaborate fascinators, much of the conversation about this royal engagement has centered on race. Ms. Markle is biracial, her mother is black and her father is white. Dr. Sheri Parks of the University of Maryland, College Park joins Tom for Midday Culture Connections to talk about royalty, race, and identity. 

Kelsey Parks Smith also joins from England. She’s a postgraduate student in the School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences at Loughborough University in the United Kingdom. She's also Dr. Park's daughter. 

Centers for Disease Control

To date, more than 60 women have accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct. The accusations range from indecent exposure to rape. A new piece in the New Yorker written by Ronan Farrow alleges that Weinstein hired private investigators to collect information on his accusers and the journalists who tried to expose him in an effort to suppress stories about his predatory behavior.  

In the days after the New York Times published the initial story on Weinstein detailing a few of the allegations, more people came forward with sexual assault allegations against other powerful men in Hollywood including producer James Toback and actor Kevin Spacey. At least 60 women have accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault; a majority of those accusations came to light in 2014 and 2015. The trial in one of those cases ended in a mistrial earlier this year. 

REUTERS/Chris Wattie

 

We begin with an update on the Las Vegas mass shooting that left 59 dead and more than 500 people injured. Almost immediately after the tragic shooting --which is being characterized as the largest mass shooting in recent U.S history-- Democrats and Republicans began the predictable debate about gun regulation in our country. Unfortunately it’s story we know all too well. Last year, following what is now the second largest mass shooting in recent history at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Democrats proposed extended background checks in private gun sales, and banning sales to suspected terrorists. Republicans proposed increased funding for a national background check database; and a judicial review process for people on a terror watch list when they attempted to purchase firearms. None of those bills passed. In 2012, after 20 children and six educators were fatally shot at Sandy Hook elementary in Newtown Connecticut, President Obama made an emotional appeal to Congress for tougher gun laws. Obama signed several executive orders relating to gun control, but neither of the two major pieces of gun legislation proposed at the time passed in the Senate.