The Pornification of America
Pictures of half-naked girls and women can seem to litter almost every screen, billboard, and advertisement in America. Pole-dancing studios keep women fit. Men airdrop their dick pics to female passengers on planes and trains. To top it off, the First Lady has modeled nude and the “leader of the free world” has bragged about grabbing women “by the pussy.”

This pornification of our society is what Bernadette Barton calls “raunch culture.” Barton explores what raunch culture is, why it matters, and how it is ruining America. She exposes how internet porn drives trends in programming, advertising, and social media, and makes its way onto our phones, into our fashion choices, and into our sex lives.

From twerking and breast implants, to fake nails and push-up bras, she explores just how much we encounter raunch culture on a daily basis—porn is the new normal. Drawing on interviews, television shows, movies, and social media, Barton argues that raunch culture matters not because it is sexy, but because it is sexist. She shows how young women are encouraged to be sexy like porn stars, and to be grateful for getting cat-called or receiving unsolicited dick pics. As politicians vote to restrict women’s access to birth control and abortion, The Pornification of America exposes the double standard we attach to women’s sexuality.

Strippers: Realities, Representations, and Raunch Culture
In a pornified raunch culture, the actual exotic dancer (not the woman taking pole-dancing classes for fitness, or the girl giving her boyfriend a lap dance at a party) resides at the intersection of a cultural paradox: representations of strippers are everywhere in the media and nowhere in real life, the girls acting like strippers are good sluts, but the girls who are strippers are bad ones, and, finally, all young women are to supposed to be as close to naked as possible most of the time.

In this multi-media lecture, Dr. Bernadette Barton discusses the real lives of exotic dancers in relationship to ubiquitous media representation of strippers in raunch culture. This presentation argues that even in our body-obsessed, androsexist culture, young women can resist both emulating and disdaining exotic dancers.

Research as Social Justice Work
Dr. Bernadette Barton’s body of work merges activism and scholarship by giving voice to members of marginalized groups. A faculty member at Morehead State University and researcher on gender, sexuality and religion, Barton regularly draws on her scholarly findings to participate in public conversations about current issues. In this talk, Barton discusses her projects on exotic dancers, Bible Belt gays, and raunch culture to model for students how to use their life experiences to do social justice research.

The Toxic Closet: Being Gay in the Bible Belt
What is the toxic closet? For many gay people “coming out” means risking rejection, abuse, and ostracism, especially in the Bible Belt. At the same time, staying in, what Dr. Bernadette Barton calls, the “toxic closet” also has long-term emotional and social consequences.

Christian-themed bumper stickers, signs, and symbols permeate public spaces in the Bible Belt while routine conversations include frequent references to one’s church, church attendance, and “walk with the Lord.” One is supposed to be Christian in the Bible Belt and defer to Christian authorities. Inundated with conservative Christian beliefs and practices from childhood, those who live in the Bible Belt learn to suppress their same-sex attractions, hide them, and try to pray the gay away.

Drawing on interviews with over 50 lesbians and gay men, this thought-provoking multi-media presentation – featuring video clips, and photographs – illustrates the effects of religious-based homophobia on individual lives.

Diversity 101
While most institutions have mission statements stating their commitment to the importance of diversity, confusion and miscommunications still erupt in workplaces and schools in the implementation of diversity initiatives. Much of this results from a lack of education on the central issues, discomfort with the topic, and a collective paucity of language to facilitate productive discussions. A skilled public speaker with over 20 years of experience lecturing on diversity issues, Dr. Bernadette Barton introduces participants to basic concepts in diversity studies, then opens and facilitates a conversation among attendees centered on their specific concerns and ideas.

Dr. Barton is accomplished in creating safe spaces to discuss potentially controversial issues, and has much experience illuminating common ground between those with differing perspectives. Diversity 101 can be presented in either lecture or workshop formats while being tailored to the interests of a specific institution, and the knowledge-level of the attendees.

The Long Road to Marriage Equality in Rowan County
After the Supreme Court ruling making marriage equality law in the United States, Rowan County, home to the university town of Morehead, found itself front and center in an international media storm when county clerk Kim Davis refused to issue marriage licenses because doing so to same-sex couples “threatened her salvation.”

In this powerful multi-media presentation – including original interview data from lesbians and gay men living in the Bible Belt, video footage, and photographs – Morehead State University Professor Bernadette Barton walks audiences through the events as they unfolded in Rowan County through the lens of “compulsory Christianity.”


“Bernadette Barton takes us on a vivid inside tour of Bible Belt America that us privileged gay folks from more liberal parts of the U.S. have a hard time imagining or even knew existed. The stories she tells are riveting, heartbreaking, infuriating, yet ultimately uplifting.”


Interview with Dr. Barton: Midday Kentucky

“Watch the Midday Kentucky interview with Dr. Barton held on January 18, 2017.”

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