Our culture has a curious relationship with sex. Judging by our television programming, Internet habits, and even news coverage, it would seem we are obsessed with it. Yet judging by our politics, we are terrified anyone is actually doing it.
Reruns of Two and a Half Men run almost constantly, and the content is almost entirely sexual. ABC’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager was wildly popular amongst teen girls, and dealt almost non-stop with teen girls having sex. The E! network is awash in pixelated boobs. And what self-respecting primetime crime drama wouldn’t feature sexual depravity and violence as a major theme?
Meanwhile, Janet Jackson’s “accidental” exposure of a nipple for 8 seconds on TV warranted the attention of the Supreme Court.
The hot-button issues emerging in the 2012 election are turning out to be topics like contraception, gay marriage, and defunding Planned Parenthood. In the 21st century, we are still committed to teaching abstinence to kids. The same kids to whom we market an unending stream of sexualized clothing, music, and media are then being told by politicians that sex is just for making babies within the context of a marriage. Is it any wonder kids think politicians are out of touch?
Ironically, the Muslim countries have this right. If you’re really committed as a culture to sexual repression, then drape your women in burkas, censor the Internet, and restrict TV broadcasts to G-rated content. At least it’s a consistent policy
Alternatively, maybe it’s time to embrace sex as a natural human function rather than some weird necessary ritual that must be performed 2.2 times in order to produce the requisite number of children. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places sex at the same level as breathing, food, water, and sleep. We are hard-wired for sex at very fundamental and physiological level.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating for hedonism. Just because you enjoy eating doesn’t mean you’re into gluttony or dumpster diving. And just as the government plays a role in the food you eat, it has a role to play in sex as well. The government works to make sure the food supply is safe. It even encourages good nutritional habits. But there is very little support for the government regulating what you can eat and when. Maybe a similar approach should be taken with sex. The government can work to ensure that sex is safe. That might include disease prevention and control, sexual product testing, and access to sexually related health care.
But maybe people should be as resistant to the government regulating when, where, and whom you can have sex with as they are to the notion that the government will take away their soda-pop and Twinkies.
Government regulation of morality rarely goes well.