Normalizing Sex

In the latest edition of Salvo Magazine (which you can subscribe to by clicking here), I pointed out that one of the subversive features of the over-sexualized environment our children are growing up in is that they are becoming desensitized. In a society where sex is used to sell everything from shoes to vegetables, the danger is that children become so used to it that they cease to consider things to be sexual which clearly are.
 
This struck me when the BBC did a documentary on the sexualization of children and Sophie Raworth visited 13-year old Chloe. Dressed skimpily and imitating the erotic dancers she had seen on television, Chloe’s dream is to go all over world as a dancer. Raworth asked Chloe if she was trying to be sexual. Chloe confessed that there was nothing sexual in her mind when she was dancing. Moreover, she said, as long as she kept her clothes on, there was nothing inappropriate about her moves.
 
Certainly the self-evaluation of a 13-year old girl should be taken with a heavy pinch of salt. Yet as I point out in my Salvo article 'Sex & the Kiddies: The Sexualization of Children & How Advertising & Entertainment Change Their Brains', I think there is an important lesson to be learned from the fact that Chloe failed to acknowledge the obvious eroticism of her behaviour. As our children are bombarded with more and more sexual stimuli, one effect is that they cease to even see certain things as sexual, with the consequence that important barriers are lowered.

Chloe found this out in a rather disturbing way when she was eleven. A stranger who had seen some of the dance moves Chloe posted online contacted her to tell her how sexy she was. Chloe panicked and immediately removed all the videos.
 
ReichYet the question remains: how have young people like Chloe managed to convince themselves that all but the most explicit displays (in Chloe’s case, taking off her clothes) are non-sexual and benign? And do the products and media that girls like her are able to so easily access have anything to do with this?

The answer to this question may lay in the thought of one of the early pioneers of the sex education movement. In his book The Sexual Revolution, Wilhelm Reich (1897–1957) described the means for achieving a society that would not put any obstacles in the path of sexual gratification. I have discussed Reich in my Salvo article, in which I point out that

For all his moral anarchism, Reich was perceptive. He realized that in order to achieve the type of sexual utopia he desired, he must first move society away from the shyness and embarrassment surrounding sex. In particular, he argued, people must lose their reluctance to expose erotically important parts of their bodies. Reich attempted to facilitate this by having psychotherapy sessions in which he would require his clients to remove all their clothes.

Reich would be pleased if he coWReichuld see a European summer today, which is more in keeping with his ideal than what we find in brothels. In a brothel, women have overcome the natural shyness surrounding erotically important parts of their bodies in order to advertise sex; on a sunny beach, scores of women can be seen who have overcome this natural shyness with no thought of sex at all. Indeed, by refusing to explicitly acknowledge the erotic implications of minimalistic attire, we are fast approaching Reich’s goal of a society in which shyness has been overcome and sex is flattened of its inherent potency. “Profane” best describes Reich’s ideal and its realization in the contemporary situation, given that the term originally meant “to treat as common.”

The current debate about the sexualization of children needs to be charted within this same rubric. Certainly when low-cut blouses are marketed for 13-year olds, when music videos for children are saturated with sexual imagery and when sex is constantly used to sell products to young teens, the result is going to be that many girls will become hyper-sexualized. However, such saturation can equally have a desensitizing effect since it unconsciously orients youth to treat their sexuality as something trivial, benign and commonplace. Either way, it primes girls for perverts like Reich: the former because hyper-sexualized girls will want to have sex; the latter because girls are less likely to guard and protect that which they have been oriented to treat as being merely common.

To read more about this, subscribe to Salvo magazine and turn to my article, 'Sex & the Kiddies: The Sexualization of Children & How Advertising & Entertainment Change Their Brains.'

Reframing the Sexualization Debate

The center for Normalizing Any & All Sexual Preferences doesn’t actually exist, at least not yet. At Salvo Magazine we invented the CNASP because it comes very close to the truth about how our society tends to approach sexuality. ‘If it happens, it’s natural. If it’s natural, it’s OK.” That is the topic of my article for the latest edition of Salvo Magazine, I pointed out that the debate over the sexualization of children (which was particularly strong in Britain last year) has centred primarily on quantitative questions. Are our young people being exposed to too much sex? Does this exposure happen at too young of an age?

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Now certainly questions like these are important, especially when we ask who profits from the sexualisation of a 13 or 14 year-olds. I think few would doubt that the beneficiaries include the growing network of pedophiles in Britain.
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What I find interesting, however, is that by framing the debate solely in terms of the above questions, the discussion has excluded crucial qualitative distinctions we need to be making.

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Don’t get me wrong. Certainly we should be concerned if media and marketing are influencing the next generation to think about sex when they ought to be thinking about dolls and trains. However, shouldn’t we be even more concerned if the marketing, media and the entertainment industries are subtlety influencing children to think about sex in the wrong type of way? We need to be asking not just whether children are being sexualized too early, but how they are being sexualized.
The stimuli children are bombarded with are, in fact, orienting them towards an illusory understanding of their sexuality. Embedded in the products now available to children, especially childrens’ TV and music videos, is a subtle false narrative about what it means to be a man or a woman.

The narrative I have in mind is one in which sex is disengaged from the secure relationship of marriage. It is a narrative which evacuates from sex any emotional, let alone ethical, underpinning, thus reducing it to something purely animalistic. It is a narrative which tends to associate the good life with what is fashionable, cool and up to date. In short, it is a narrative which says, ‘If it happens, it’s natural. If it’s natural, it’s OK.”

To keep reading my thoughts on this subject, subscribe to Salvo magazine today and receive issue 19. Look for my article “Sex & the Kiddies The Sexualization of Children & How Advertising & Entertainment Change Their Brains!” 

New book: John Lennox asks, If I believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, am I denying the authority of Scripture?

ID-friendly Oxford math prof JohnLennox has a new book out, Seven Days That Divide the World: The Beginning According to Genesis and Science . Can’t imagine which seven days. Blurb:

What did the writer of Genesis mean by 'the first day'? Is it a literal week or a series of time periods? If I believe that the earth is 4.5 billion years old, am I denying the authority of Scripture? In response to the continuing controversy over the interpretation of the creation narrative in Genesis, John Lennox proposes a succinct method of reading and interpreting the first chapters of Genesis without discounting either science or Scripture.

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“No Dinosaurs in Heaven” film purports to tell the Trooth about the intelligent design community

 

NO DINOSAURS IN HEAVEN is a film essay that examines the hijacking of science education by religious fundamentalists, threatening the separation of church and state and dangerously undermining scientific literacy. The documentary weaves together two strands: an examination of the problem posed by creationists who earn science education degrees only to advocate anti-scientific beliefs in the classroom;

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Geologist-artist’s 1998 work presages later changes in view of dinosaurs?

 In "Alternative Evolution" of Dinosaurs Foresaw Contemporary Paleo Finds” (Scientific American August 10, 2011), Brian Switek surveys the great changes that have taken place in how dinosaurs are viewed, many of which may have been foreseen by Dougal Dixon, who thought he was writing a fantasy about how dinosaurs would have evolved, had they survived. Except that they happened way back then.

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Zookeeper: Evolutionary psychology meets Hollywood

Charlie Jane Anders tells us "Zookeeper is a horror movie about evolutionary biology" (IO9, July 8, 2011), but she must mean "evolutionary psychology." Briefly, the zookeeper wants this girl, and the animals (who can talk, of course) advise him to use their mating strategies:

Griffin is encouraged to become an Alpha Male, to pee in public to mark his territory. (There is a lot of urination.) The Adam Sandler-voiced monkey tells him to fling poop. At various times, his mating seminar starts to seem like an episode of the Pick-Up Artist, as a lion tells him to throw some negs. He's encouraged to pick fights with competing males, to separate his desired mate from the pack, and to make his nerdy-but-gorgeous best friend pretend to be his girlfriend to make Stephanie jealous. There is much slapstick involving Griffin attempting to do a frog confrontation stance and making his pants split open.

Eventually, though, it starts to work — Griffin, implausibly, becomes an Alpha Male and everybody admires him. He becomes a kind of super-yuppie and God among ordinary shlubs.

The usual keenness of evolutionary psychology's insight into human nature is on display here;

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