We live in a culture saturated with sex, and there are some sources that may be affecting the lives and hearts of some unsuspecting Christians. It’s vital that we identify sources of sexualization in our culture in order to reduce the exposure for our own souls.
Ever since the glory days of Playboy, men’s magazines have been devoted to showcasing women as sex objects, the value of the articles aside. Few people ever bought the line that Playboy was a forum for serious philosophy or current events, did they? But the Hugh Hefner stuff from the sexy sixties appears tame when compared to the newer variations of the genre. No picture is too revealing. No position too lurid. No pairing too pornographic. These magazines are dedicated to the sexual arousal of their readers.
To keep producing this effect, the publishers have to supply increasingly graphic images. Prurience is a hungry beast that craves an ever-larger and dirtier diet to satiate its appetite. Defenders of this sort of journalism insist that these journals provide only pleasure without harm. Some even tout this kind of pornography as a way to reduce sexual crimes, although hard statistics from law-enforcement agencies always verify the opposite effect. By fostering the image of women within a tightly confined sexual lens, they have been one of the strongest factors in accelerating the sexualization of our society.
While women’s magazines usually do not contain the same level of sexual imagery as the men’s publications, still they contribute deleteriously to our sexually charged culture. They influence the social climate through the presentation of ideas rather than graphics. Some of these magazines target adolescent females. Others aim at more mature women. But their message is always the same: Men are viewed as sexual quarry. They offer tips for capturing and keeping alive a sexual relationship, offering detailed instructions on how to talk and act to entrap the intended lover and how to respond sexually to keep the man once they ensnare him.
According to a study done in late 1996 by public relations firm DeChant-Hughes of Chicago, almost three-quarters of articles published in women’s magazines today are devoted to sexual topics. Have you paid any attention lately to the magazines available in the checkout line at your nearby supermarket? Even a cursory perusal will confirm the sexual content. Helpful sidebars fill you in on what a desirable man “wants in a woman.” Typical articles portray the establishment of male-female relationships as a grand strategy with sex as the end prize.
Targeting preadolescent girls as young as ten or eleven, many of these magazines have adopted a sexuality-as-strategy concept. Instead of advising girls to postpone sexual activity until they are married, these magazines advocate safe sex. Their “wise” counsel is “Wait until you are ready for a ‘committed’ relationship,” and “Always use contraceptives to avoid unplanned pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. But, by all means, enjoy sex!”
Do you suppose our kids are confused? We tell them, “Just Say No” to drugs, but use a condom when having sex. Our culture for U.S. News and World Report found that 74 percent of the Americans asked had serious qualms about teens having sex before marriage. But federally financed TV ads and sex-education programs give millions of girls the opposite message. Condoms are in, they preach. Abstinence is unrealistic.
Thanks to our ever-younger conditioning, preadolescent girls have much more time to worry about their weight, to agonize over which makeup is right for their skin type, and to worry about which outfit is more likely to catch the attention of that special guy. In other words, they get to spend their childhood trying to look, talk, dress, and act like adults. The time bomb is ticking long before they are old enough to understand the consequences of their budding sexuality.
Authored by Dr. Gregory Jantz, founder of The Center • A Place of HOPE and author of 30 books. Pioneering whole-person care nearly 30 years ago, Dr. Jantz has dedicated his life’s work to creating possibilities for others, and helping people change their lives for good. The Center • A Place of HOPE, located on the Puget Sound in Edmonds, Washington, creates individualized programs to treat behavioral and mental health issues, including eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, and others.