How Mass Media Sells Sex

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How Mass Media Sells Sex

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The idea of sexual freedom is kept alive and well by what Dr. Meg Meeker considers a major cause of the current epidemic of teen sex—mass media and the sexually charged world our kids see: “The American Psychological Association estimates that teenagers are exposed to 14,000 sexual references and innuendoes a year on television alone—all subtly (or not so subtly) influencing my patients into having sex, an act that can physically and mentally harm, if not kill them” ( Epidemic: How Teen Sex Is Killing Our Kids , 2002, p. 120).

What messages are they sent through movies and television? “Consider the impressions they’re likely to take away from a film such as Titanic ,” writes Dr. Meeker. “Do kids even remember the movie is based on a true historical event? Do they remember the old couple who held each other as the ship sank so they could die in each other’s arms? The captain who shut himself in his cabin to go down with his ship? Of course not. Kids remember the steamy windows of the car parked below-deck in which Jack and Rose made passionate love. Did she get pregnant? Herpes? Chlamydia? No. She got the ‘strength’ from this three-day tryst to ‘go on’ ” (p. 124).

Television and movies are only part of what our kids see and are exposed to. Increasingly, fashion designers and mass merchandisers are using sex to sell to our kids.

The pressure is intense at a time when our kids are vulnerable. According to The Harvard Guide to Modern Psychiatry : “Sexual impulses, intensified during puberty, remain intense during this phase of adolescence. Permissiveness, the lack of moral guidelines, the sexually stimulating aspects of mass media, and other dimensions of today’s society make control of these impulses particularly difficult for the modern adolescent” (Armand Nicholi, Ed., 1999, p. 617).

Sadly, what the media portrays as fun or fashionable—to sell merchandise—often induces behavior that leads to debilitating diseases, even death. GN

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