September 18, 2009

A Brief Plea

There's always a lot going on in our nation that we don't hear about. How can we digest it all? In this information age, with high-speed internet and zillions of blogs reporting different angles to every story, who can keep up?

I can't, but I offer you my thoughts - some grand, mostly small - about everything that gets "caught in my web." That seems to range from budget beauty tips to politics as usual, with random photography and color culture commentary somewhere in between. I suppose you could say I'm indecisive about what I like, but I rather enjoy being a catalogue of obscure bits of information. The occasions on which I write something trenchant or thoughtful, though rare, bring this blog together into a pretty good summation of who I am.

More often than not, I am drawn to write about "current" issues when they pop up in the media. But they are never "current" to me in the sense of being fashionable to talk about; many of the topics considered "hot" are things I've mused on for awhile. Not to say I've come to any particular conclusions on all of them, but on some my moral meter reads consistently. The importance of allowing children to be children, to not mature them before it's time, is one of those.

This morning I read a story about Dr. Oz, a cardiothoracic surgeon and ingenue from Oprah's show, who has been promoted to a solo gig hawking his "real doctor" tips with a non-clinical approach. So long as he's offering his tips and tricks to age-defying by diet, how to jump start an exercise routine and five common preventable diseases, I'm all for it. As a huge proponent of preventative care, I urge people to maintain healthy diets and exercise. Totally non-controversial.

But what about the topic of sex? Is it still considered taboo to discuss on television, to a general audience and without any pretense of modesty? You can probably guess where I fall on this issue. Frankly, if you're an adult who wants to hear other people talk about genital parts and the "physiology of an orgasm," knock yourself out. I think it's a little twisted and inappropriate, but it's your prerogative, Bobby Brown.

However, if you're a child, the answer is yes - some topics, including sex ed on t.v., are off limits for you. The right time for a kid to be educated about sex is when his/her parents think it is right, and education should be age-appropriate. No, it should not be taught in schools, at any age. Feel free to label me a backwards hick, but my sex education came at a very young age (and not from my parents) and proved to be detrimental to my actual understanding of the content. In fact, I think it messed me up big time for my teenage years and into adulthood, too.

Why am I suddenly mentioning kids you wonder? It's because of the time slot when Dr. Oz's show airs: 3 p.m. Most kids are just getting home from school at that time and many are flipping through the channels. If they flip to CBS, see an anatomical model of sexual organs and two people pointing out the specifics, will it be morbid curiosity or fear that decides whether to watch or not? For many, many kids, the curiosity will outweigh the fear of getting caught watching something they shouldn't be, not in small part due to the fact that Mom and Dad are both at work for a few more hours.

And just what will they see if they decide to chance it? Dr. Oz was thrilled to announce on his debut show, "Today, we're talking sex. I'm excited because for the first time, using cutting edge animation, we can go inside the female body and see what happens during an orgasm."

Stop right there. Do you want this guy teaching our children about orgasms? Notice there is no context to his set-up; no one is told that sex should be between a man and his wife, and between consenting adults, etc. I realize his audience - adults in the studio - presumably know these things, whether they abide by them or not is another thing. But who's in the at-home audience? It could be anyone. Let's go on with a quote from the article I read:

"The 'animation' had outline images of the penis, the vagina, as well as the breasts, and it even showed men and women lying on top of each other as scientists studied computer screens that depicted the participants' sexual arousal."

Again, I don't have a problem with him discussing these topics, with adults. I have a problem with the time of day at which they are broadcast. If they want to air it during prime time, fine. Parents will be home and can monitor what is being watched. However, when it's just kids at home, stuff like this shouldn't be available to them. At the ages kids who are watching might be (elementary school, middle school), they will not comprehend what is being shown to them and might be tempted to discuss it between themselves. I'm not being crude; it's a reasonable suggestion that kids would act inappropriately if influenced to do so.

There has always been an outcry against pornography, and with good reason. It is a complete distortion of what is intended (by God) to be a special event between certain people, who have made commitment to one another. I would argue that, for children, explicit clinical discussion of sexual organs and processes is no different than pornography, because they don't understand what's being said.

All they see is pictures, or models, and actions. They hear a man saying that there is a "sexual famine" going on in America and that orgasms are good, whether they happen with someone else (not specified) or, as his guest doctor friend put it, "...with the person you most love: yourself." There is no discussion of the specialness of sex between married people, or about the guilty horror or despair one feels when they act outside of that.

There will probably never be an afternoon show that depicts sex between married people the way it is supposed to be. We will continue to watch the sexually-deviant be paraded before us: the adulterers, the unwed mothers, the teenage studs. We will never hear a follow-up story that begins with, "I wish I hadn't had sex..." that also ends with, "Thank God I understand how much it means now! I'm saving myself for marriage." Call me a cynic or a realist, but I just don't see it happening. The ratings have proved too high for immodesty to take a backseat to chastity.

But instead of just complaining, I decided to do something about it. I wrote to CBS and asked them to please consider a different time slot for this show. I highlighted that, while it may be merely questionable material for adults, it is certainly inappropriate for children whose parents may not be home to help explain things to them. Nothing too political, just the facts: talking sex to kids = wrong. Please stop it.

I am posting the link here to the CBS feedback site and will continue to send them comments until I receive a response I'm happy with. If you agree with my argument here, please consider also sending them a note to the same tune. Maybe if enough of us respond they will consider moving Dr. Oz to Oz (or at least, somewhere else in the time slot).

CBS viewer feedback link here


Bonjour Madame said...

I stopped watching Oprah entirely. She doesn't seem to have anything new on her show anymore, it's the same stuff recycled and Dr. Oz is one of the regulars. Quite frankly, they lost me when they insisted on talking regularly about bathroom habits. My day is hard enough to want to listen to that kind of stuff.

Then she's also been going off on tangents about her spirituality and gurus she promotes. Quite frankly, I think she's leading a lot of people away from real religion and into the "all about me" territory. I speak specifically about her promotion of Marianne Williamson, Eckart Tolle, and various other authors she's had on over and over. I digress.

I will send a message to CBS.

Victoria said...

Bonjour- Yes, I agree; Oprah is leading people further away from God. It makes sense, since the more you pixelize Him (He goes from a real Being to "everything is everything") the less real He is. So sad for her viewers, even though I want to shake them and say wake up, people! :)

Dr. Oz bothers me for different reasons. Of course he probably thinks the brain is the mind and vice versa... also not true to the reality of God's creation...

Thanks for sending them a note!

Vickie said...

Thanks for your post. I totally agree with everything you said. Also about Lady Gaga.

Bonjour Madame had some good points about Oprah's guests and the "spirituality" thing. She has alot of subject matter that should not fall during the afterschool hours either.

Rant away -

Gwynie Pie said...

Yes, Dr. Oz gets on my nerves too.:) He has just become such a "rock star", much like Oprah, and women in droves are taking his words as gospel.

Your words are spot on. I appreciate reading your stance on the subject. It pretty much mirrors mine. However, I do not say it so well. Thanks.

Great blog by the way. I just today found it by way of savvy city farmer. I'll be back

Gwyn Rosser
The Pink Tractor


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