Not “ga-ga” over Lady Gaga
An article by J.R. Stoner Jr. highlights how “ordinary television, respectable magazines, and popular songs regularly include provocative images, situations and lyrics that a generation ago would have been labeled ‘soft porn’. Reports from those who have looked describe what now counts as ‘hard-core’ in terms that would astonish the imagination and shock the conscience of anyone who is not a hard-core pornography user himself.”
One just needs to watch Lady Gaga’s new explicit video “Telephone”, which features crotch grabs, nearly naked dancers, stripper moves, a bound and gagged Gaga, mass homicide, scantily clad women licking prison cell doors, girl-on-girl action and taped-over nipples to see this cultural theme in action. Addictive beat aside, every tween and teen I talked to recently had seen this video or Gaga’s nearly as offensive video, “Bad Romance”, which I don’t view as a good thing. Most of the viewers watched the video online or even purchased the video from Gaga’s official site.
Making the jump from videos like “Telephone”, to pornography, to S&M doesn’t seem too extreme to me, and unfortunately, we know that consumers of sexual content do tend to experience a desensitization process. As journalist Pamela Paul summarized, frequent consumers of Internet pornography, “looked at things they would have once considered appalling—bestiality, group sex, hard-core S&M, genital torture, child pornography.” I would not be surprised if frequent use of pornography helped to shape what golf pro Tiger Woods began to view as “normal” or “exciting” sexually, including references in recently released texts to physical abuse, choking and urination pornography.
The Social Costs of Pornography Report, released last week by the Witherspoon Institute calls upon popular culture and celebrities to discourage the glamorization of pornography and the enabling view that “everybody is doing it”. The report’s appeal has “particular urgency in the community of popular music, where videos now routinely feature degrading, quasi-pornographic and pornographic imagery”.
In the meantime, parents must be involved to counter the sexual mis-education currently abounding in popular culture. Parents must also be aware of the “slippery slope” with regard to sexual content’s impact on children and adults—sexual images desensitizes the viewer and increases the appetite for more deviant, bizarre or violent types of pornography or acting out. Remember, even if you have outlawed MTV or inappropriate shows for your children, they have easy access to content through their mobile device and computer.
As Internet Safety 101 featured expert and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist Dr. Jill Manning highlights, “healthy sexuality includes many things: boundaries, self-care; how do we take good care of our bodies, our minds and our spirits? How do we develop self-respect and respect for other people? How do we communicate in a loving and constructive way with one another. We need to step out of this limited box that the sex talk is a one-time event. That day is gone.”