It’s no secret that the entertainment industry has shaped our opinions and standards.
Whether it be subconscious or apparent, our society can’t help but be influenced by what we view on a regular basis. That’s why these fictional characters have changed the way we date, and it sucks.
Marnie Michaels and Christian Grey
Ah, Allison Williams and the infamous anilingus scene (speaking of which, 2015 is off to quite the auspicious start for the Williams family—Allison gets her ass eaten out on Girls and Brian has to eat ass out by apologizing for lying about his war coverage experiences).
That scene was indicative of the growing popularity of the sex act. But couple her and Christian Grey, and you get a dangerous trend: people now view sex no longer as the intimate act it once was, but rather as a drug of choice, with each new session meant to chase the dragon by dabbling in kinkier and kinkier acts.
Why is this bad? Well, because of this, you’re starting to see people desensitized to sex itself. In her piece Being Desensitized By TV And Porn, Erica Harry Pzena argues, “The worst part is how this all effects our sex lives. When we were kids, the idea of being able to kiss a girl on the lips was extremely exciting and now that idea is boring. We live in a country addicted to porn, people watch more and more extreme pornography throughout there [sic] lives and it’s actually been shown to make the idea of real sex seem more boring to guys in comparison. In fact men who watch a lot of porn and are desensitized have a harder time maintaining an erection during sex.
Because it’s just not as exciting as the camera angle close ups and giant fake boobs that you see on a computer screen.”
Not only are we not excited for the simple act of seeing someone naked—yay boobies!—but we’ve even escalated our sexual preferences. In Why Wanting Rough Sex is More Common Than You Think, one woman admits that “I had a partner who choked me a little bit, and I liked it…We talked about it afterward, and things progressed from there — slapping, spanking, degrading sex talk. Since then, it’s been a part of my sex life”.
Our increasing appetite for danger has created a dating culture where it’s all about the adrenaline you get from rough sex, not the connection two people are expressing.
Although Brandi Maxxxx is never depicted having sex on Parks and Recreations, she is a good effigy for porn stars, and watching porn has serious repercussions.
Is Porn Harmful focuses on the monkey see, monkey do aspect that is coupled with watching TubeGalore and other sites:
“Scientists have linked the motivating power of porn to the ‘mirror neuron system,’ a part of the brain that compels us to simulate action we see other humans perform. In a 2008 study in the journal NeuroImage, for example, men who watched erotic videos experienced mirror neuron activation and reported a desire to replicate the sex acts they saw. The stronger their mirror neuron response, the harder their erections tended to be. (This parroting effect may be more pronounced in response to videos, which have more action cues than photographs do.) ‘When you’re viewing something sexual, the mirror neuron system enables you to vicariously experience it,’ says Struthers. However, simply watching isn’t sufficient to elicit an orgasm. This is why the need to masturbate or to seek an actual sex partner becomes so overpowering that men can’t resist it.”
Like the 50 Shades of Grey effect, people are now going out and seeking partners to perform these deeds, and it turns out that “many psychologists believe that men have evolved to pursue lusty, busty women who are willing to engage in casual sex.”
Sorry, Cameron Diaz—men no longer are looking to find out what that something about Mary is, not unless its breast augmentation.
Losing your virginity is often seen as a big coming-of-age moment, take the show Awkward on TV as an example, but it’s not always rosy for people:
“A University of California, San Francisco study conducted from 2002 to 2004 details the negative feelings some teenagers may have after their first sexual experience. In the study of 273 students, teens describe feeling used, fearing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, and having a diminished view of themselves following a first sexual encounter.”
Not only does losing your virginity come with a negative cost in some cases, research also shows that sex is linked with body images. Women in college reported that they have a negative opinion of themselves as well as their body after sex, while men get off (figuratively and literally) from the experience, receiving not only a rush of blood to their no-no-special-spot but their ego too.
However, as time goes on, “Research revealed that women became more content with their appearance over the course of their time in college, while men grew more dissatisfied. But the flip-flop after an initial sexual encounter is more than merely interesting. It could have negative consequences for the men: in a larger sample that included people who had sex prior to college, researchers found that positive body image can lead to risky sexual behavior for male college students” — Sex and Self-Esteem: A Big Boost for Men, Not So Much for Women. So realize, ladies, that the next time a senior is hitting on you, he could be craving validation for all that time he put in that week at the gym.
There’s no escaping pop culture, but you need to be conscious of the effect it has on you. So the next time someone asks you what’s your type for a potential date, just think about your favorite character, and hope that the influence he/she has had on you is a positive one.