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The Makings of a Hookup Culture, Research Paper Example

Pages: 8

Words: 2261

Research Paper

It is nearly impossible to flip through daytime television channels, check out at the grocery store, surf the web, or simply look through emails without flashes of flesh. Our culture has embraced and overindulged in tasteless television shows, celebrities, magazines, and entertainment skirting the lines of pornographic. Because of the mind numbing exploitation of sex and skin in our culture, we have grown disturbingly accustomed and accepting. Sex is no longer viewed as a sacred event between a married man and woman. Today, strip clubs are typical forms of entertainment, hookers paint street corners, television shows on HBO grossly resemble vampire porn, and people participate in casual rolls in the hay with complete strangers and mere acquaintances. The media has shaped our lives in such a way that we have become completely accepting of and desensitized to sex without commitment.

What exactly does “hookup” mean? Garcia, Reiber, Massey, and Merriwether (2012) explain, “Hooking up – brief uncommitted sexual encounters among individuals who are not romantic partners or dating each other – has taken root within the sociocultural milieu adolescents, emerging adults, and men and women throughout the Western world” (p. 161). In essence, we have become more cosmopolitan. We tend to disregard traditional values for the ever more appealing and less self-controlled antics of the modern environment. We have become a society passionate about feeding our needs for passion.

However, we have not always been a culture so accepting and desensitized to sex (Samson & Grabe, 2012). A swift change has taken place. Men and women used to talk about sex in hushed tones behind closed bedroom doors. Sex education was a rare health concern barely touched in high school classrooms. Children had no notion of how babies were made. Yet today, kids are experimenting sexually while they should still be building tree houses and playing with Barbies. High school and college kids are drinking and having casual sex encounters, devoid of emotion and perceived consequences. Women cry to their friends about a lack of romance in their relationships, while their husbands run around behind their backs having affairs with their secretary or tennis instructor. Popular television shows today even encourage teen pregnancy and teen motherhood (Attwood & Smith, 2011). According to Garcia, Reiber, Massey, and Merriwether (2012), “Over the past 60 years, the prioritization of traditional forms of courting and pursuing romantic relationships has shifted to more casual ‘hookups’” (p. 161). The media has played a large role in our desire to embrace casual flings within our culture.

We are a predominantly media dependent society. We follow the current trends, purchase the latest and greatest, and swoon over gorgeous celebrities and their lifestyles. It seems as though our lives revolve around media and whatever they throw our way. Television and advertisements tell us that we can have whatever we want. According to a popular Burger King slogan, you can “have it your way.” Television programs tend to reveal the modern tendency toward casual hookups. Studies show that 28% of reality television shows are sexually themed. Moreover, the prime-time reality television sexuality increases to a whopping 41% (Vandenbosch & Eggermont, 2011, p. 563). These themes ingrain sexual desensitization and an inclination toward casual sexual behavior in the individual mind.

The inclination of sexually explicit material in the media has been cited as a significant element influencing teenage sexuality and health (Bale, 2011, p. 303). Alarm revolving the undesirable influence of the media is increasingly significant. As rates of sexually transmitted diseases and divorces escalate, it is no question that this hookup culture is a major concern.

The apparent consequences of the overexposure of sex in the media consist of risky sex, multiple sex partners, experimenting with sexuality, unrealistic expectations in bed, sexual compulsion, violence that is sexual in nature, sexy and sexually inappropriate fashion styles, eating disorders, and the desire for plastic surgery (Bale, 2011, p. 304). Bale mentions that, “Anxiety around the media and shifting sexual behaviour has also been registered within public health and related policy, where the impact of mainstream sexualized culture is increasingly cited as a cause for concern, particularly in relation to sexual health” (Bale, 2011, p. 304). This is particularly concerning because of the apparent impact of sexualization on kids and adolescents who are particularly at risk due to developmental immaturity.

Some researchers argue that the exploitation of sex and hooking up in our culture can be attributed to scantily clad lad magazines (STUPIANSKY, REECE, MIDDLESTADT, FINN, & SHERWOOD-LAUGHLIN, 2009). One source mentions that their content “encourages young men to regard women merely as sex objects’ and described its goal as being, ‘to eliminate any loopholes that exist in the current guidelines for displaying this material” (Bale, 2011, p. 304). Yes men are the ones drooling over fleshy magazine spreads, but the women are the ones who have placed themselves in the middle of the modern day sex scandal after all.

Women exploit themselves in an effort to gain control, power, influence, money, and to feel attractive and sexy. The Sex and the City revolution teaches women to think and act like men (Vandenbosch & Eggermont, 2011). After all, women should be allowed to work extensive hours, climb the corporate ladder, and have meaningless sex like the guys, right?

Since the beginning of time males have been encouraged to have sexual experiences with women. After all, their seed is just longing to be spread. Men were expected to sow their seeds, yet expectations were completely dissimilar for women until the sexual revolution (Wentland & Reissing, 2011). Girls were supposed to remain untouched and untainted. Girls were supposed to be demure and pure. However, the sexual revolution of the 1960’s has changed everything. Now, sex is viewed as a tool to empower women, and make them feel sexually liberated and sexy. According to one source, a prostitute mentions, “I believed what everyone said, that all this promiscuous sex was so empowering” (Luscombe, Kingsbury, Salemme, & Sharples, 2008). Do we really want our youth believing that sex is empowering?

Sex causes children to grow up long before they are supposed to (Attwood & Smith, 2011). Many kids experimenting with sex and having children do not even have jobs to support the consequences of their actions. Kids see sex on television and experiment sexually before they are ready to handle the responsibilities that come along with sex.

The major issue stems from the fact that sex is everywhere. Music on the radio and MTV involve sexual experience, intentions and exploitation. And youth oriented films today contain plots in which teenage kids attempt to get laid. The media throws sex in the faces of viewers and listeners, glamourizing the notion without explaining the heartache and responsibilities that can consequent from sex.

Today, there are 11 and 12 year old little girls lined up at Planned Parenthood institutions (Vasilenko, Lefkowitz, & Maggs, 2012). Chairs at the welfare office are occupied with pregnant teens and young mothers. There are countless pregnant junior high students sitting in classrooms across the country today. Many high school graduation classes contain one, if not several, pregnant girls. A 12 year old girl might see glamorous sexual escapades on television shows such as the Bachelor and Sex and the City. She decides to give her heart to a slimy sleaze ball, ends up getting pregnant. Then what are her options? Many young girls resort to abortion (Vasilenko, Lefkowitz, & Maggs, 2012). Another huge concern revolving the sexual media age condoning casual sex is the matter of sexually transmitted diseases (Furman & Shaffer, 2011). Today, 14 year old kids think that STDs and regular trips to the clinic are normal (Luscombe, Kingsbury, Salemme, & Sharples, 2008).

Shouldn’t parents and adults set examples for these kids? Shouldn’t our media encourage healthy and responsible sex? Kids tend to follow in the footsteps of the preceding generation, adding their own generational problems and inclinations. More importantly, kids tend to find “parents” when their own are absent. In a world where many parents work and spend time away from their kids, children are forced to find comfort and rearing in the modern media.

Our world revolves around sex. And this is what’s raising our kids today. Even simple commercials contain subliminal messages about sex and appearance. Gum commercials display people kissing, and make it look fun and adventurous. Axe cologne commercials show guys wearing the cologne or using the body wash, and then females rip their clothes off in a sexualized frenzy. Even shoe commercials showcase the goods. Sketcher shape-up commercials show off girls dancing around in skin tight knickers with close ups of their booties. Isn’t it a shoe commercial? Where are the close ups of the shoes?

People on television, and consequently in real life, tend to hookup in bars, public restrooms, parking lots, and parks. Whatever happened to discretion? Whatever happened to innocence? It seems as though Americans are becoming a herd of animals; whenever the urge comes along, people tend to drop their pants and satisfy their urges.

The United States pregnancy rate has declined much slower than in other countries (Attwood & Smith, 2011). We have more people living on welfare today than ever. Television is gross. The sexual nature and tendencies of our culture are maddening. Isn’t enough, enough?

Believe it or not, a line exists between gender equality and immorality. Gender equality does not govern sexual immorality. Somehow, over the years, our country has taken the term equality and twisted it into our own sick way of not taking accountability for our actions. Murdering is not acceptable. Just because some people murder, does not mean that everyone has the equal right to murder. As with sex, just because some people choose to freely give their bodies to meaningless chains of people, does not mean that everyone should participate in such vulgar activities too.

Our media and our country in general, lack moral integrity. As a nation, we are greedy self-indulgent people. The media has desensitized us from the effects of sexually explicit images. We become immune to the graphic display of sexuality and crave more. As a result, people walk around like sex crazed animals, searching to fulfill their fleshly desires.

Men and women are equally responsible for this problem. Men oogle the goods and women put them out there for the world to see. Casual hookups have become the norm in our society, in large part due to the representation of sex in the media. It is nearly impossible to flip through daytime television channels, check out at the grocery store, surf the web, or simply look through emails without flashes of flesh. America has embraced and spoiled in vulgar television programs, famous people, publications, and entertainment that seem to blur the lines between normal and abnormal, right and wrong. We have grown so accustomed to sex and skin everywhere that it has been ingrained in our culture. Unfortunately, sexual encounters are no longer perceived as sanctified activities between a married man and woman. People watch gross television programs and act out the immoral scenery in their own lives. Sadly, the mass population participating in this crude behavior is the youth of America. People end up with sexually transmitted diseases, unwarranted pregnancies, abortions, adoptions, and sad empty hearts continually searching for satisfaction and love. The media has shaped our lives in such a way that we have become completely accepting of and desensitized to sex without commitment.

References

Attwood, F., & Smith, C. (2011). Investigating young people’s sexual cultures: an introduction. Sex Education, 235-242.

Bale, C. (2011). Raunch or romance? Framing and interpreting the relationship between sexualized culture and young people’s sexual health. Sex Education, 303-313.

Bersamin, M. M., Paschall, M. J., Saltz, R. F., & Zamboanga, B. L. (2012). Young Adults and Casual Sex: The Relevance of College Drinking Settings. Journal of Sex Research, 274-281.

Boynton, P., & Callaghan, W. (2006). Understanding media coverage of sex: A practical discussion paper for sexologists and journalists. Sexual & Relationship Therapy, 333-346.

Eisenberg, M. E., Ackard, D. M., Resnick, M. D., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2009). Casual Sex and Psychological Health Among Young Adults: Is Having “Friends with Benefits” Emotionally Damaging? Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, 231-237.

Elliot, A. J., & Pazda, A. D. (2012). Dressed for Sex: Red as a Female Sexual Signal in Humans. PLoS ONE, 1-5.

Furman, W., & Shaffer, L. (2011). Romantic Partners, Friends, Friends with Benefits, and Casual Acquaintances as Sexual Partners. Journal of Sex Research, 554-564.

Garcia, J. R., Reiber, C., Massey, S. G., & Merriwether, A. M. (2012). Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review. Review of General Psychology, 161-176.

Grello, C. M., Welsh, D. P., & Harper, M. S. (2006). No Strings Attached: The Nature of Casual Sex in College Students. Journal of Sex Research, 255-267.

Luscombe, B., Kingsbury, K., Salemme, E., & Sharples, T. (2008). The Truth About Teen Girls. Time, 64-69.

Samson, L., & Grabe, M. E. (2012). Media Use and the Sexual Propensities of Emerging Adults. Full Text Available. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 280-298.

STUPIANSKY, N. W., REECE, M., MIDDLESTADT, S. E., FINN, P., & SHERWOOD-LAUGHLIN, C. (2009). The Role of Sexual Compulsivity in Casual Sexual Partnerships among College Women. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity, 241-252.

Vandenbosch, L., & Eggermont, S. (2011). Temptation Island, The Bachelor, Joe Millionaire : A Prospective Cohort Study on the Role of Romantically Themed Reality Television in Adolescents’ Sexual Development. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 563-580.

Vasilenko, S. A., Lefkowitz, E. S., & Maggs, J. L. (2012). Short-Term Positive and Negative Consequences of Sex Based on Daily Reports Among College Students. Journal of Sex Research, 558-569.

Wentland, J. J., & Reissing, E. D. (2011). Taking casual sex not too casually: Exploring definitions of casual sexual relationships. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 75-91.

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