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Of Being a Sex Obsessed Society

One day, a couple of years ago, I was watching an episode of Haven the SciFi network. As I was watching the show and commercials for other SciFi shows, I could not help but notice the most recurrent theme was not science fiction, it was sex; more specifically young pretty people having sex with new partners.

This is from The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. In the show all the teen characters are explicitly said to be 16 years old. One of the key plot points in season one was that every witch girl was expected to have sex on her 16th birthday as a rite of passage.

Now, since I try to keep an eye out for how sexuality is presented in media I began to make a point not to mute the commercials and pay attention. As I've written before, part of my life I was in the world of fundamental Christianity and I began to think about that recurrent theme of young unmarried people having casual sex and how it is seen by religious conservatives. I know full well that the evangelicals and Catholics see such things and decry loudly that our society that has become overly sexualized. The more extreme even proclaim that mass shootings, natural disasters and even AIDS are punishments from God for the sexualizatoin of American society.

So I considered that charge and here is my response.

First, it is completely fair to say that sex has become ever more common on television and the movies. Even on the ABC Family Channel, young people are fucking up a storm. Compare that not just to the 50’s when even married people did not share a bed on TV, but to the sexy 70’s. Even in the ultimate T&A show, Charlie’s Angels, there were lots of braless beauties, but I can’t think of a single bedroom scene involving one of the sexy angels actually doing the deed. Perhaps my memory is weak, but I’m of the generation that lusted over the Farah poster every night, but for all the titillating, there was little or no overt reference to the angels getting laid. Yet on the episode of Haven I was watching, not only did it show the main character get undressed before sex on her 1st date, she later talked about her sexual experience that night. And, if we include hit cable TV shows, the sex is so explicit that shows such as Game of Thrones would have brought on police raids even in my lifetime.

However, unlike the Christian Right, I don’t say that as a criticism, just as a contrast. If I were to make a criticism, it would be that the nudity and sex on TV is almost entirely confined to incredibly fit & attractive people between eighteen and about twenty-five. Of course the world is not just full of pretty young people. In fact an ever growing portion of society is made up of people over 65, and even though this age group is more sexually active than ever (thanks to better health and Viagra), they are nearly entirely excluded from media portrayals of sex. That I find offensive.

It is true that youth sex on broadcast television is driven by the fact that advertisers are not interested in senior citizens, but on young people who have not developed long term consumer preferences. The one exception to this was the classic TV show the Golden Girls which featured a very sexually active 50’something woman who was a central character. But that show went off the air over 20 years ago and I don’t know of anything similar since. But, cable television is under no such constraints and yet they still limit depictions of sex to attractive young people. To my mind an HBO version of The Golden Girls where the sex is shown would be very well received.

As for the idea that our society is “oversexed”, I as "over sexed" as compared to what? Sure in ages past mere survival meant long hard days, crippling diseases and early death. So, I guess it is likely true we now, as a society, do focus more on recreational sex for more years than ever before. However, if you compare modern western society to the leisured elite of any society in history , we are no more sex obsessed than any of them. Those wealthy enough to have time and health to play sex games well into middle age, have done so from the beginning of recorded civilization. Contrary to Maslow’s hierarchy, I would suggest history proves that once the basic needs are met (including sex for procreation), recreational sex quickly becomes a priority in all societies.

Thus the forces of anti-sexualization of society are just another form of Luddites: looking back with fondness to a fictitious wonderful and simple past. Their rose colored glasses just forget that for most of human history life expectancy was very little more than thirty years old. For the first time in world history we have an enormous population of people over the age when sexual desires are their singular driving force.

Historically we know that people who do live beyond their 30’s tend to become progressively more sex-negative. I would suggest this is due to the fact they do not like to be reminded that they are no longer young and virile. The greatest example of this is the architect of Western sex-negative morality, St. Augustine (354-430AD). After living his young life with wine women and song, he later decided that sex is bad. He even went as far as stating that a man’s erection was inherently sinful. My guess is he said that after he ceased having erections himself.

So, yes it appears to a populace that is aging that there is an undue focus on sexuality. But, that is not a function of a change in young people, but the combined effects of an aging population and the ability (via media) for older people to be reminded of the fact that people in their late teens and twenty’s fuck like rabbits.

From the terrific 2010 historical series Pillars of the Earth

So Viva to our sexualized society!

Those of us who are past our randy youth will just have to deal with it. But it would be nice to see more mature sexuality on television and movies.

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Think of all the Bond actresses! :) I enjoy thrillers too, and my comment wasn't a call for censoring violence (altho I do feel if someone gets killed that should be an R. Breasts = R, so why not?) I think there is a reaction to the easy access now to nudity and sex can be. I remember growing up and to have 3 penthouses was living like a king. Now the internet is forcing parents to talk to their kids about sex, which then forces the parents to deal with whatever internal crises arise from that.


Feb 08, 2021

No kidding! I thoughtlessly enjoy thrillers, while being fairly obsessed with what humans need to do to eliminate violence. Imagine what the world would be like if the story structure of those movies was dressed with orgies instead of shoot outs and chase scenes.


a little addendum: I know I'm not the first to point this out but America is a violence obsessed society. Imagine what the sex equivalent of the Bourne or Bond movies would be, and imagine them being on prime time tv


Feb 05, 2021

From an evolutionary view, sex is primarily recreational. A dog in heat, or the male that pursues her, isn't thinking about puppies. Neither are teenagers, discovering the sensations of arousal, thinking about passing on their DNA. Sexual pleasure is a handy trick that life worked out over the eons. An analogy is the notion that evolution doesn't care about the quality of your life, just that you live and reproduce, hence allergies, presbyopia (and aging in general), and SIS, shitty Irish skin. What is amazing is that humans can address the discrepancy.

I think that young people's being the subjects of sexual narrative in entertainment is an example of the bare impulse. "Let's arouse people by showing them bodies i…


The cry of modern society being oversexualized conveniently ignores the open display of sexual paintings, frescoes, and statues through out history, along with erotic writings. We may yet see a show dealing with 50+ sex, considering the number of actresses that still have their figures from their 20s

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