Sex and Violence in the Media
The media has witnessed an exponential growth in the past few decades or so. This phenomenon may be attributable to a number of factors. Among the most conspicuous of these factors, however, is the phenomenal growth and technological advancements that the world has experienced over the period in question. Notwithstanding the causes of the exponential growth for the media, one thing that comes out clearly as an impact of such growth upon the society is the fact that information becomes more readily available to people, including children from such sources. Among the kinds of information which becomes readily accessible as well as available is that on sex and violence. This paper seeks to discuss the influence of the media upon sex and violence.
Before this paper delves into the gist of the discussion, it becomes proper that it sets straight the meanings of a number of key words that would be used within this paper through definitions.
Outside the meaning of sex within the concept of gender, sex in this paper would be used to refer to the act of sexual intercourse (Garner 1406). Thus in the context of this paper, the term sex would be used to mean the physical activity engaged in by two people together primarily so as to procreate as well as just for pleasure (Bullon 1504).
Violence refers to the kind of behaviour which is purposed by the person committing it, that it hurts the person against whom it is directed (Bullon 1840). Besides, violence in the context of this paper would mean the use of physical force; which force is exercised without any legal basis and is accompanied with the intention to cause physical harm to the person against whom it is directed (Garner 1601). The effect of violence on people is to make them violent, i.e. people who are predisposed to causing attacks against others, hurt others, or even cause the deaths of other people (Bullon 1840).
Information means a set of facts or particulars which provides someone with something on a given situation, person, event et cetera (Bullon 834) while access within the meaning of this paper is to refer to locating information, more so, on a computer (ibid). Collectively therefore, information access means the ease with which a person may obtain any facts and or particulars relating to any event, person or even situation of interest to them.
This term refers to the all the organization that provide news as well as information for the general public consumption. Such an organization includes newspapers, television and radio, among others (Bullon 1024). Other than being the organization illustrated above, media also refers to the persons who work with the organization that constitutes the media (ibid). More often than not, the media is referred to by the collective name, mass media just in order to underscore the fact that the media informs masses of people.
These being key words for this discussion the paper now turns to delve into the gist of the discussion. This paper claims that the increase in information access to the children and the youth through an exponential growth in the mass media has had an increase on violent crime as well as increase in casual sex among this category of people.
The concern for most parents all throughout the historical times has been on how to ensure that their children receive properly filtered information. This is against the background that the kind of information that the children receive have an impact on their habits. The need and concern by parents for a responsible upbringing of children has persisted even during the medieval times of such philosophers as Plato (Bushman and Cantor 130).
Plato's concern for the children then and indeed as it is for parents today, can best be illustrated by his statement in which he expressed lots of concern for the kinds of stories that children access through listening. He wondered whether parents are wont to allow their children to listen to every story that anyone could make up the consequence of which was the reception of ideas by the children of information which run counter to those that the parents always intend to get down to the said children.
While the needs and concerns for the parents respecting the kinds of information that reaches the children have remained more or less all through, there are new challenges that have arisen in the contemporary times which thus make the problem more acute today than it could ever have been in those years yonder. An obvious development today that has complicated matters for today's parent is the fact of the exponential growth for the mass media; which exponential growth creates direct consumption challenges among the children hence bigger headache for parents.
Indeed, this concern has best been captured by Bushman and Cantor who aptly put it that whereas the concerns of parents for their children remain constant throughout the ages, more complex challenges have presented themselves today. They say that since the time of Plato, the number of story tellers have increased exponentially through the revolution witnessed in the mass media such as television, movies, video, computer games and the Internet, just to mention but a few (Bushman and Cantor 130). In their view therefore, each increase in the numbers brings with it a consequent increase in the harmful effects to the target group, more so the children.
Authorities abound as to the correlation between the media and both sex and violence. According to such authorities, exposure of children to media violence has the direct effect of creating very negative violent influence among the affected children. Among the negative influences which children pick from media violence have been noted to include aggressive behaviour, increased hostility, increase in antisocial tendencies among the children, as well as the engendering of attitudes which are more accommodating to violence (Anderson and Bushman 4).
The research position of Anderson and Bushman has been vindicated by other researchers who have also been able to illustrate the same set of results. For instance, other authorities on this area point out that the net of media violence influence casts even much wider than has been pointed out by both Anderson and Bushman. Exposure to media violence, such reports indicate, also causes fears, anxieties and sleep disturbances (Harrison and Cantor 7).
Researches on media influence on sex among children are not as widespread as those on media and violence out of ethical reasons (Bushman and Cantor). However, there are positive empirical evidence that suggests a strong correlation between the media and sex among not just children, but also everyone in the society. For instance, a number of research authorities have demonstrated the relationship between literatures on pornographic as well as mainstream erotic materials on the perception of sex among the children as they grow up (Allen, Emmers & Gebhardt, 8).
According to the authority in question, pornographic materials and the mainstream erotic materials increase skeptical attitudes on matters of love and marriage, sexual callousness among the children and youth as well as the enhancement of the perception that promiscuity is the norm (Allen, Emmers & Gebhardt, 8). It is noted that media on a combined sex and violence may have even more far reaching negative effects upon the children than the effects that each of the two have singly (Bushman and Cantor 1).
Other researches have yielded results that are not forgiving to the role of media on sex and violence thereby vindicating the claim that this paper adopted, to the effect that an upsurge on the mass media increases the casual sex and violent tendencies among children and the youth. For instance, some feminist writers have been able to illustrate that the media on violent sexuality has the resultant negative effects on both attitudes and behaviour of men (Malamuth and Check 437).
More particularly, such authorities have pointed out that exposure of men to media on violent pornography has very serious ramifications upon their attitudes. According to research results, such kind of exposure causes the affected men to have the propensity towards exposing their female counterparts to electric shocks (Malamuth and Check 437).
Besides the exposure of women to electric shocks, there is further evidence to the effect that media pornographic literature also makes the exposed men to develop the habit of develop self generated rape fantasies (ibid). Needless to harp on this, however, such self generated rape fantasies have the consequent effect of raising sexually violent activities among the children. There is thus more than a fleeting chance that children who get exposed to such literature may become rapists; they may just be interested in actualizing their media generated fantasies.
The third effect that Malamuth and Check indicate as being the direct effect of media on sex and violence is that such an exposure makes the affected children develop cold and unfeeling attitudes towards rape victims. According to the research authorities, children who access information relating to pornographic rape have no understanding for the trauma that rape victims undergo subsequent to their suffering the heinous crimes (Malamuth and Check 437).
In addition to the foregoing results, there is also positive empirical data which demonstrate that exposure for children to media literature on sex and violence makes a number of them become permissive to sexual and even non-sexual violence against the women (Malamuth and Check 438). In these authors' research, they established a positive link between media literature that favorably portrayed violence against women and acceptance of such tendencies by such children later in their lives (ibid).
While the effects of this kind of attitude may be varied, the authors point out that a calamitous effect of this is that it makes the society to condone such acts and hence fail to report the same. Consequently, such societies become even more violent as violent crimes end up not being punished as people have over the years developed the culture that accommodates them. The ultimate result of this is that children would grow up extolling the virtues of sexual violence against a section of the society. Besides, law enforcement agents would not be readily accommodated by such a society as the people find no need to involve them in solving the culture of sex and violence so prevalent but accepted in the societies.
As a wrap up to this discussion, it is to be recalled that this paper was intended to address the role of the media on sex and violence. Very importantly, the paper adopted a thesis statement in terms of a claim to the effect that the proliferation of mass media increases casual sex as well as violence in the society. This thesis statement has been given a vindication through the illustrations of the empirical research results from the several authorities cited herein. While it is impossible to eliminate the mass media from the society, the challenge that every member of the society needs to address is on how to filter off unnecessary information and encourage responsible use of such resources.