I was reviewing a large study on the sexual attitudes of singles and I was surprised by how much shift has occurred regarding sexuality.
And then I wasn’t surprised when I began to think about how media preach their nightly brand of sexuality.
In almost every case (I am struggling to find one story line of conservative sexual values not mocked), the person who doesn’t have sex outside of marriage is made to look like a freak. The message- sexual appetite must be fed.
Joseph saying NO to Potipher’s wife would not make prime time. The TV gospel hour does not preach fleeing from sexual temptation.
Grey’s Anatomy, like most of prime time television, is one of those shows promoting the gospel of open sexuality. Casual sex is the norm. The person who resists is weird, an outsider and neurotic.
In Grey’s, one of the married couples couldn’t be themselves in marriage, so they divorced and are now having fantastic sex all the time because they are free of the confines of marriage. The sermon is very clear–marriage undermines who you are and sex is better outside of it.
And even though homosexuality remains a consistently small percentage of our population, gay and lesbian story lines dominate most of prime time. This is purposeful. The writers use their bully pulpits to promote tolerance and condemn anyone who thinks differently, even if that thinking is based on a moral code. You will not see a moral position against homosexuality ever presented with love or tolerance–a hypocrisy that cannot be discussed without accusation and attack.
Another story line featured a transgendered teen couple. We had much dialogue from the teen’s perspective of being trapped in the wrong body. The dialogue was compassionate and empathetic towards the teen. The father of the 18-year-old girl who is about to have her breasts removed in order to begin her journey towards becoming a man, enters the hospital and is portrayed as unloving, intolerant and misguided. When he questions the choice of his still developing daughter, all the sympathy goes to the loving and supportive transgendered friend, who tries to get the dad to accept his daughter’s decision to change her gender. The father asks what the rush is to change so quickly but is rebuffed for that question, even though it is a realistic question, and one any father would ask an 18-year-old considering reconstructive surgery. But of course, he is just misguided and lacks compassion. The father leaves the hospital, unable to show love because he didn’t agree with the decision. He abandons his daughter (son) at his time of need. Again, tolerance trumps and makes a realistic conversation impossible. If you oppose the change for any reason, you don’t love your child.
The single Christian on the show gave in to her sexual appetites long ago, had passionate sex often until the guilt became too great. Her sexual partner moved on to an intern. Last night, she questioned whether anyone goes out on a real date and allows romance to blossom. The other doctors looked at her like she was from another planet and made no comment. No one has questioned sex in an uncommitted relationship. And of course, none of the sexually active doctors ever contract an STI or have emotional fall out from casual sex.
I could go on, but you get the idea.
I long for the day when writers on these shows write characters who have a different view of casual sex without being portrayed as freaks. Or maybe, in the name of tolerance, a different viewpoint could be presented in a loving way (that would be real tolerance!). Or maybe a character could actually say NO to casual sex and be a hero at least once.
In the meantime, television continues to push its brand of sexuality. They have an audience and they use the pulpit!
When you preach something long enough and often enough, people begin to believe. That’s a power of media.
Is it any wonder our attitudes towards sexuality are changing?