ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–The concept of smoke-free zones in public spaces is quite common. Most restaurants and hotels offer patrons environments that are unsullied by tobacco fumes. Some state and local governments have even gone so far as to ban smoking in most, if not all, public places.
Public health and courtesy are the prime motivations behind smoke-free zones. Studies have shown that inhaling second-hand smoke is almost as bad as actually sucking on a smoldering cigarette. And courtesy dictates that individuals should not be forced to gasp for air while trying to enjoy a meal and they shouldn’t have to smell like an ashtray after a night’s stay in a hotel.
For the most part, citizens in the United States accept that those of us who do not smoke should be given options that allow us to escape being exposed to the nasty and unhealthy activities of our fellow Americans. If you want to fill your lungs with smoke, tar and nicotine, knock yourself out. Just do so where you will not adversely affect others.
But what would happen if Americans adopted a “sex-free” attitude in reference to the public display of sexuality? I am not talking about government regulation, but rather a paradigm shift in the way our nation approaches all things sexual.
America is fast becoming a society that is all sex all the time. There is almost no way to escape being visually and verbally accosted by sexually suggestive imagery.
According to a report released in November by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 70 percent of TV shows include some sexual content. The average program contained five sex scenes per hour. For the top teen shows, there were 6.7 sex scenes per hour.
The Kaiser study found that the number of scenes involving sex has nearly doubled since 1998. Even programs that do not feature sex are surrounded by advertising saturated with sexually charged themes and images.
Of course, any discussion about sex on television would not be complete without mentioning advertising. A variety of companies utilize the barest of buff bodies and sexual innuendo to hawk their wares. Add to that the promotion of products promising sexual enhancement, and attempting to watch a football game can become an R-rated activity.
Even a trip to a movie theater to enjoy a family friendly flick can result in having sex thrown in your face. While waiting to watch “The Chronicles of Narnia,” my family was subjected to “coming attractions” that were dripping with sexual innuendo.
I could go on, but suffice it to say that sexually charged imagery is everywhere: billboards, radio, magazines, the Internet.
Yet soon, we are told, sexual sleaze will be more pervasive than ever before. Pornography is going be available via cell phones and video iPods. And you thought being subjected to someone’s obnoxious conversation was bad. Just wait until the guy across from you at a restaurant starts staring at his cell phone. Won’t that be special?
What if America took the same approach to sex that it currently does toward smoking, and kept all matters of sexuality private while never flaunting it in public?
In reference to sex, the “liberated” among us could knock themselves out so long as they did so without subjecting others to their tendencies. While it may sound Pollyannaish, it is the way things once were in our culture.
What I find ironic is that any time someone like me suggests that our society is becoming saturated with sex; some liberal will charge that I am the one obsessed with sexuality.
According to the American Heritage Dictionary, “obsessed” means “to preoccupy the mind excessively.” It would seem that those that believe sex should be flaunted at all times and in all places are the ones who are obsessed.
Sex is a wonderful gift given by God to be enjoyed by a man and a woman within the commitment of marriage. It should be treated with dignity and respect, which is something American society has trouble doing.
No-smoking zones have made a difference in our nation’s attitude toward lighting-up. Who knows what a “sex-free” attitude might accomplish.
Boggs is editor of the Baptist Message newspaper in Louisiana.