Tuesday, January 8, 2008


Warning! The page to which the link in the following post directs you has content that may be offensive to many and definitely inappropriate for children!

When Joe and I began our family and talked about child rearing issues that were important to each of us, one of the things we decided was that we would not have a TV. We still don't, although we do have a DVD player on our computer which allows us to watch movies at our discretion. There were several reasons we decided to be television free. The two main reasons I can remember were 1) My husband turns to a vegetable in front of a TV. And 2) We agree with Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death, that overuse of television leads to shorter attention spans and a reliance on sources of pleasure outside oneself. Stated another way, that with too much TV, one will become addicted to constantly changing images and dependent upon other people's thoughts and imagination; and one will gradually lose skills like sitting still, focusing ones mind on something difficult, and of entertaining oneself among other things.

I realize now that there is another, arguably more important, blessing we have reaped because of our decision to be TV free. We have protected ourselves and our kids from the blatant sexuality that is so pervasive on TV. Everything from the sit-coms to the commercials, to the game shows and reality shows, to talk shows like Oprah; everywhere on television is a focus on sex or sexiness or sexuality or sexual deviance.

Sometimes I listen to talk radio host, Laura Ingraham. One of the things I really appreciate about her show is her support for traditional values and family values specifically. In that capacity, one of her frequent topics is the "pornification" of our culture, or the ways in which our culture has become "sexed up." She reminds listeners of things that have become normal that used to be considered taboo. She educates listeners on the many studies that have been done that show the long term effects, emotional and physical, that early exposure to sexuality has on children.

I think it was Robert Bork in his book, Slouching Toward Gomorrah, who used the phrase "defining deviancy down." In context, what he meant by this was that as we push more and more things into the mainstream that formerly were considered private or inappropriate or even sinful, we lower the bar on what is considered deviant behavior. Things that used to be considered very much wrong are now normal and things that were unheard of are now at least grudgingly tolerated.

I was at Wal-mart yesterday looking for an exercise DVD with which to spend some time during my long northern Minnesota winter. There were perhaps 8 or 10 videos there. I scanned the titles first for the names of the trainers or instructors to see if there were any with whom I was familiar. I noticed right away that several (five or six of the few they had) were led by the same person, Carmen Electra. I was at first disappointed at how few options I had. But after reading more carefully the full titles of the Carmen Electra DVDs, I was more than mad. I was livid! So, our teenage daughters can go into Wal-Mart and purchase exercise videos that teach erotic dance. Just what we need!

Now if you checked the above link, perhaps you noted the other selections recommended to those who might be interested in Amazon's further suggestions. There is apparently an entire corner of the exercise market filled with things that used to be euphemistically considered adult or more bluntly, porn. Even some of the cover poses on the suggested DVDs aught to be considered porn.

OK, as you can see, I am a little bit worked up about this.

Of course, as I said before, I have kind of sheltered myself from pop culture. But in so doing, I am able to see more easily how things have changed. When things change a bit at a time, it is easy to become inured to the changes and not really notice a difference monthly or yearly. But each time I have opportunity to watch a bit of television (once or twice a year) , I notice a marked difference. Much more blatant focus on sexuality. It is very pervasive. We are heading in the right direction if what we want is for our sons to consider only the sexiness of a woman when evaluating a future spouse or for our daughters to think they must market their bodies sexually in order to get the attention of a man.

Our sinful nature does not need any encouragement to think along those lines. It is difficult enough without that focus to keep our thoughts and actions pure. Constantly bombarding our youth with such offal is poisoning their hearts and minds.

I know one aught not to complain if one has no solutions. And no, I did not bring the offensive materials to the attention of the manager. Maybe I should.

And no, I really don't have any solutions. Just a plea to other parents to be aware of what's out there. Take a stand against the trend of defining deviancy down. Do it for your kids and their kids.

Be aware of what you yourself are watching on TV and of how you moms out there dress. Pay attention to what the kids are watching and wearing. Dads, is your attitude toward your wife primarily based on her sexuality? Maybe if each of us takes responsibility to address this blatant sexuality and sexualizaton of each aspect of our lives, we can effect what is sold in our stores and aired on our airwaves.

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