I’ve been asked a question recently: When did all the sexual rules break down? The rules that have governed humanity for thousands of years, if not longer. The sexual norms that set the moral boundaries between people; between men and women, children and adults? When did they all finally break down and fall completely apart?
The person who asked me this was deeply concerned over what seems to be the complete overhaul of traditional sexual behavior in our society. I had to agree with her, it is true that little by little in our lifetimes we’ve witnessed sexual behavior being fundamentally changed if not torn apart. And this is a huge concern for many. And more important, it is a concern for the next generation. It’s a concern about the future of our society. After all, there isn’t anything more basic, more intrinsic to being a human being than our sexuality. Yet our society treats it as if it is an optional piece in the puzzle of what makes us human. A piece of us that isn’t simply the gender of men and women but a complex combination of sexual orientations so vast that the acronym for it changes by the month. And personally I find this to be disorienting if not outright confusing. I honestly can’t keep up. I don’t understand how anyone can. And I’m left asking the question: Is this a sexually healthy thing to do?
In psychology there is hardly anything that competes with the damage that can be done to people more than sexual abuse. The #MeToo movement echos this. I feel the wave of public figures being exposed for targeting underlings working for them with sexual aggression and manipulation is a gigantic step in the right direction.
This is a good thing. It is informing our culture that there is a line about sexual conduct that we won’t cross. Things like respect for the person. The concept of common human decency. Or of treating others as you would have them treat you. The Golden Rule. No one likes to be abused or treated badly especially in sexual ways.
This is especially true when it comes to the sexual abuse and exploitation of children. No matter how undefined people’s sexual orientation may be, our society still draws a line with the kids. Amen! I hope it’ll last. But I’m not too confident it will last too long.
I raise this issue because kids are being sexualized at younger and younger ages. The internet has offered sexually explicit material that children can very easily get to. Is it any wonder that women are being treated as sexual objects? Or worse yet young adolescent girls feel they need to sexually objectify themselves to be noticed or wanted. How does this fair for the future if our children don’t get the chance to first understand what a healthy sexual relationship is before they are exposed to unfiltered porn? How does this fair for our future if our children aren’t given a chance to be children?
Again, I’m glad the sexual objectification of women and their harassment is being confronted in the national media. We are long overdue for a national conversation about this. I hope it gains some long-lasting momentum. We desperately need to start drawing some clear lines about how far things like this can go. But more important, I firmly believe the more we address this issue about sexual abuse the more we will also end up having to address the issue of our children. I am completely convinced that these two are inextricably tied together.
We need to think of what kind of future we are building for our children in this national discussion. What kind of foundations we are laying down upon which they will build their own future. There’s no doubt about it, a porn saturated one would create a very dark and bleak world. Porn doesn’t cultivate healthy relationship building. It tears them apart. Our media sexually objectifying young adolescent girls doesn’t help in this regard either. It doesn’t encourage their self-respect as a person but instead does quite the opposite, it undermines if not outright denigrates it.
We are in a very desperate need for a very long national conversation on sex, sexual harassment and the sexual objectification of women, girls and children. I’m glad the conversation has finally begun. Let’s keep it up and make it a long one.
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