Sex as a Commodity

Television has transformed American culture, normalizing casual sexual behavior with shows such as “Friends,” where there was mix-’n-match sex as just everyday humorous entertainment, Howard Stern’s disgusting, sophomoric antics with pathetic bimbos, so-called “reality” shows pushing limits, and the attention grabbing vulgarity on cable TV channels. It is stunning that even the “nicest” hotels have XXX rated channel options.

Am I just an uptight, neurotic prude (oh, I’ve been called even worse!), or is this really injurious to human beings? To answer that, I – a nice little Jewish mother – will turn to the new Pope (Benedict XVI). In his first pastoral letter to the church on the nature of God and love in charity and relationships (January, 2006) he called for “expressing erotic love through committed, unconditional love relationships.” According to press reports, Benedict warned that sex without unconditional love risked turning men and women into merchandise. “Eros, reduced to pure ‘sex,’ has become a commodity, a mere ‘thing’ to be bought and sold…Here we are actually dealing with a debasement of the human body: no longer is it integrated into our overall existential freedom; no longer is it a vital expression of our whole being, but it is more or less relegated to the purely biological sphere.”

Need proof he’s right? KDWB-101.2 in Minneapolis, according to one of my listeners, had a reporter doing a story about teens who now have “friends with benefits,” meaning: having sex without commitment. My listener wrote: “My mouth was open during the entire drive to work. Girls and boys as young as 13 were admitting to either knowing someone, or being a part of this ‘phenomenon.’ But what really got my dander up was an 18 yr. old senior in high school who proudly stated that he’s part of a group of five girls, five boys who REGULARLY engage in sexual intercourse with one another (at least 3 times a week). When asked if this has caused any problems amongst the young women, he stated, ‘No, these girls can’t get enough.’ We don’t even bother to close the doors.’”

In a fantastic op-ed piece in the Santa Maria Times (1/22/06), Barbara Murphy wrote, “Too many of today’s young women have been hoodwinked by our culture, leaving a lot of broken-hearted, unhappy singles. Confused by the semantics of women’s rights, they gave away their bodies to the men who used them….Are young men really any better off? Jaded by endless sexual encounters that meant nothing, many young men are left empty and frustrated. Saturated by the over-indulgence of the icing on the cake, they seek more and more sugar, while never tasting the cake.

“All of us, men and women alike, want to know real love. Lust is a poor substitute. Using others is the opposite of loving them.”

Many of my listeners echo those sentiments – others are distraught and somewhat destroyed by the empty promises of casual sex. Our pervasive culture of casual sex results in masturbation by proxy, that is, an impersonal, biological release, with no human to human real connection of caring and compassion.

Sheryl, a listener, wrote that she was “Saved From a Delusional Culture.” “Thank you, DrL, for being a model of common sense in a society in which many people think that they should be able to shuffle through life with no responsibilities towards other people. I am the product of a generation raised after the so-called sexual revolution, and I resent many of the ideas that resulted from that era. I resent that the public school system and popular culture tried to turn me away from my parents’ tradition values and beliefs. They tried to ‘liberate’ me from the ‘oppressive’ life that my parents were advocating. Yet, during my years at a very liberal university (aren’t they all?) I began to realize that the public schools are are Emperors of Brainwashing. I first began to realize this while watching some of my ‘liberate’ college friends go through a string of sexual relationships, never satisfied, often whining and bitter.

“Living by my parents’ tradition values, I became a STD-free, non-bitter, real woman. I am fulfilled by real love, not mere sexual desire positing as love. Real love endures in the mind even when emotions waver. My traditional man is very sexy. No oppression or repression here. Any Hugh Hefner-types who think that they have a better life than my tradition family are delusional!”