Changing Sexuality

Today’s lecture and discussion was about the dramatic changes in sexuality from U.S. Colonial times to now.  As a nation, we have gone from (in the 1600s) having sexuality be a means to procreate within a marriage (that was probably formed for alliance and affection rather than love) to a commercial, big business enterprise today. 

Whenever I lecture about this topic (to read a good book, look for John D’Emilio and Estelle Freedman’s “Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America”).  The history of sexuality is interesting but I am still struck (and appalled) by the way sex has become a huge money maker so every greedy character is interested in getting a share of the bucks.  I don’t only mean porn, although that helped drive the blackjack internet to become the phenomenon it is today.  I mean that sex is being sold all the time, whether it is food, clothing or shelter.  Wear these jeans and you will be sexy and get attention, eat this food and you will be skinny and sexy, or drive this car, own this sofa, on and on and on.

The old questions that my generation lost sleep over, “Should I or shouldn’t I?” are lost in favor of, “How much, how many, how often, how good am I, and will I be as sexy as Penelope Cruz or whoever the “World’s sexiest man” was this year.  Even Penelope Cruz can’t be as sexy as the airbrushed, body-doubled, made up, laced-in Penelope Cruz we see on the screen.  The standards are unreasonable, even delusional but they are being sold. Sexuality is no longer about a relationship between two consenting adults but has become a money making bonanza that relies on encouraging people to feel inferior, always lacking and rarely good enough (unless you buy my product).

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