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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sex in the media

This article in today's Star Tribune hits the nail on the head: the way the media portrays sex is awful. Stories about sex in the media are either about sex crimes (priests preying on children, rape, prostitution, etc.) or they are about the sex lives of the rich and famous. Almost no stories are about the norms of sexual activity, nothing about the fact that the vast majority of sexual encounters are between consenting adults as part of a healthy, mutually enjoyable relationship.

I've always thought that this society has it completely backwards: violence is so common as to be banal, while sex, any kind of sex, is completely taboo; I think we would be better served by turning things around. Sex is as natural as eating or sleeping; it's a big part of who we are, a biological imperative that simply won't go away. However, it is rare to read any matter-of-fact stories in the media that deal with health sex lives, such as articles about erotica or sexual health. Sure, the AIDS epidemic did help somewhat, but we still aren't to the point where we are dealing with this as we should. In fact, the last place I saw an article about sex that wasn't about a crime or gossip was in the Minnesota Daily, about the health issues of oral sex. It makes sense that a college paper would be dealing with these issues, but I know for a fact that people don't stop having sex once they leave college. This can't just be seen as an issue to be dealt with by the young.

Conservatives want to pretend that sex doesn't exist, so of course they will fight any attempt by the media to be more open and honest when it comes to sex. However, as I have said before, that's like refusing to talk about nutrition based on the belief that if we talk about how much fat Big Macs have, then people are going to want to go out and eat them to excess. Most people wouldn't think of being so ignorant when it comes to exercise, nutrition, sleep, and so forth, so why is sex always the exception?

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