Archive for February, 2010

Media Influences

So whether you think sexuality’s prevalence in today’s society is good, bad, happy, or sad, it definitely raises some questions. Is society taking a downfall? Are morals soon to be unheard of? With sexual encounters happening at younger ages and the media throwing sex around like it’s nothing, are today’s teens, tweens, and children at a higher risk for STD’s, teenage pregnancy, and other consequences of sex? Are we too open about our sexuality? Is it too late to change? All are questions that race through my mind when I looked at these statistics from the following website:

  • 47% of tweens and 37% of 11 and 12-year olds say they’ve been in a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship.
  • 72% say dating relationships begin by age 14.

Nearly one-third of tweens and parents say sexual activity is a part of tween dating relationships.
Specifically, the percentage of tweens and parents identified below acknowledge the following acts as part of a dating relationship:

  • Touching and feeling up – 37% of tweens and 31% of parents
  • Oral sex – 27% of tweens and 26% of parents
  • Sexual intercourse – 28% of tweens and 26% of parents

Maybe I’m the only one who found these results absolutely shocking… even more so when I realized that their definition of a tween is a person between the ages of 11 and 14. What has happened to today’s society? How much is to blame on parenting? The media?

At risk of not wording it better myself, “adolescents may be exposed to sexual content in the media during a developmental period when gender roles, sexual attitudes, and sexual behaviors are being shaped.” This makes teens and tweens particularly vulnerable due to their not-fully-developed cognitive processes. Because of this inability to decipher between what is dramatized and what is socially acceptable, the decisions teens make continue to be influenced by what may or may not be accurately represented in the media. Typically sex, unprotected and frequently premarital, is glamorized and presented in a positive light. Statistics show that “on average, teenaged viewers see 143 incidents of sexual behavior” on television each week.

 Popular shows like Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, and 16 and Pregnant are all contributors to this moral dilemma, and those are just a few to say the least. While it is arguable that the latter two try to show the consequences of being sexually active, in some girls minds it’s glamorizing teen pregnancy, making it look easy and desirable even. However, maybe its more shows like this, down to the nitty-gritty and shockingly personal, that we need.

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Somewhere down the line we need to take a look at ourselves and realize if this is a life we want to continue to lead and pass down to our children. I plan to add more to this topic later in the week.


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Changes Since the Victorian Era

Now that we took a glance back at the Victorian Era, I’d like to discuss views on sexuality in the modern era. How have things changed? What things have stayed the same? How will things change in the future with technology constantly improving? Also, as a side note, if you have any ideas while reading this, questions that might be interesting to have answered, or feedback I’d really appreciate hearing your reactions and you have to say or think. I’m going to use the same website as my last blog for the majority of this blog post and hopefully do an okay job of addressing the views on modern day sexuality.  Once again, I’ll cover the topics of sexual activity, masturbation, homosexuality, and prostitution.

Sexual activity and the way people view it has changed dramatically since the Victorian era. In fact, during the 1950’s a silent “sexual revolution” for females began with the writings of Simone De Beauvoir and Irene Walton.  These writings brought up the notion of indulging in sex purely for pleasure. The “growth of the Women’s Liberation Movement” and the introduction of Freud and his theories became popular at the time, contributing to this revolution. The 1960’s rolled along, bringing along the idea of leading lives filled with “sex, drugs, and rock and roll.” It wasn’t until the 1970’s that premarital sex was widely accepted.  Since then, the importance of female sexuality has been highlighted in many books, magazines, etc.

Masturbation is no longer looked at as a social illness. While it may not frequently be the subject of dinner conversations, according to the Transformation of Intimacy by Anthony Giddens, 90 percent of men and 40 percent of women have admitted to masturbating at some point in their life. (16) In some situations, masturbation is actually encouraged to seek sexual gratification while still remaining abstinent.

Homosexuality is controversy at its finest; however it has come a long way since the Victorian Era. Up until the 1980’s, people thought of homosexuality to be a disease caused by a dominant mother and weak father. Freud was undeniably popular at the time, and the fact that he argued that social ostracism was not appropriate when it came to the treatment of homosexuals influence some individuals’ personal opinions.  Now, people wonder if homosexuality is more so biological than a chosen lifestyle. I think it’s safe to say that homosexuals battle a lot of criticism in today’s society when it comes to issue like marriage and adoption; nevertheless they are earning respect and equal rights slowly but surely.

Prostitution is illegal today. It seems that now women seem less forced into this occupation and it’s more of a conscious choice.  It proves that a woman can control her own sexuality, and frequently you find prostitutes using the “it’s my body I can do what I want with it” excuse.  It’s unclear if prostitution has increased or decreased, but it does still exist in many regions.

These four things have clearly changed since the Victorian Era, and many others that I will soon address in a future blog entry.

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History of Sexuality

Thanks to the help of Mr. Coffee, I think I finally have a direction where I want to take this topic. In the past century, sexuality as we know it has evolved. As technology advances and the development of things such as the Birth Control Pill, HIV/AIDS, medications like Viagra and Cialis, have become available to us, our perspectives of human sexuality have evolved. This got me thinking about what influences sex and sexuality, and the list I’m about to post is from this website.

• Technology is allowing sexual satisfaction to be less dependent on the presence of another person.
• Pharmaceutical companies are creating medications that increase arousal, desire, passion, and sexual performance.
• Science is making a perpetually youthful appearance and physical perfection achievable.
• Demographic changes in the United States are leading to increasing arousal to a wider variety of ethnicities and skin colors, and cross-cultural dating is more evident. Furthermore, a myriad of new sexual practices and beliefs are being introduced.
• Sex research is increasing our knowledge about human sex and sexuality.

So how has the perspective of human sexuality evolved? From what, to what? How will they continue to evolve with technology? Let’s first take a look where we were at the beginning of the Victorian Era, and views on sexual activity, masturbation, homosexuality, and prostitution during that time period.

Sexual activity was not something that women of the Victorian Era were able to experience, unless strictly for the purpose of procreation. Women seeking sexual pleasure were thought not to be leading “God-filled lives.” During this time period, multiple pamphlets were printed suggesting that women too needed sexual gratification. However, there were some that continued to preach marital continence, “the voluntary and entire absence from sexual indulgence in any form.” A combination of lack of knowledge and what was socially acceptable lead to a “race of sexless creatures,” practically “married nuns.”

Masturbation, or “sexual self gratification” according to, was highly frowned down upon. It was considered a “moral disgrace” and was “shunned by the majority of society.” Once again, due to a lack of knowledge, people thought masturbation led to diseases like heart disorders, cancers, hysteria, and insanity. Even if they didn’t think that masturbation caused the problems, they whole heartedly believed that masturbation worsened your condition. One final thing that really shows how things have evolved as far as masturbation is concerned is the fact that they believed masturbating could be passed down to a person’s offspring, therefore a parent who had masturbated was more likely to have a child that masturbated. Oh, how the times have changed.

Homosexuality, “the practice of same gender sexual relations,” was known as the “practices of a sinner.” It wasn’t until later on that people suspected that homosexuality was caused by a mental defect. Originally people thought that only men engaged in this act, and Queen Victoria once said “ladies would never engage in such despicable acts.” Obviously while this is completely false, men did tend to participate in homosexual relationships more than women. In the late 1800’s there was a shift from being a sinner to being a pervert if one was a homosexual.

Prostitution was considered a “moral dilemma” but also a “necessary evil.” Many young women were forced into this business to try to keep themselves off the street and earn money. At this time period, women still didn’t have the same job opportunities as men did. Society viewed these women as whores, and contributors to “moral decline.”

Clearly times have changed. Societies views on sexuality have also changed, however, a lot of the views we see and hear about today are clearly rooted from the Victorian Era and have not done a complete 180. I consciously chose the term “evolution” to describe this phenomenon because while outlooks have evolved, they are not completely different than the opinions and views we see regarding these issues today; they have a clear connection to history.

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