You know, people have been asking for over a generation now about our society's predilection for violence and aversion to sex. George Carlin riffed rather memorably about this the year I was born:
In the middle of this 'Seven Words You Can't Say On Television' routine, Carlin says
"People much wiser than I have said 'I'd rather have my son watch a film with two people making love than two people trying to kill one another'..."
Where are these wise parents, anyway? Forty one years on, they'll still a distinct minority. Or so it seems.
What brought this on? A post by Mark Frauenfelder on BoingBoing.com regarding my favourite television show, Game of Thrones, the third season of which is coming up in a little over a month. Apparently there are multiple censored versions out there for the pirating. One of them has the sex and nudity removed, as well as the "extreme" swearing. No word on whether the occasionally graphic violence has been nixed as well. Somehow I doubt it.
Fruenfelder says of his nine year old daughter
She begs us to let her watch the show. I wish she could watch it, too, but I don't want her to see the sex and nudity scenes. (I don't really mind her seeing the violent scenes.)
It's the inconsistency here that I don't get. Game of Thrones is inspired by the Wars of the Roses, in the 1400s...not a time you'd want to try and live through. The violence was (and is, in the show, frequent, and often brutal. As for sex, well, we're human beings, right? Sexual creatures. There's this tendency I've noticed: a lot of people seem to believe the Victorian era's prudishness extended back into prehistory. Nothing could be further from the truth. Hell, the Victorians themselves were only prudes in public. And sexuality goes back much further. Much, much further. Don't believe me? Check out the
often filthy graffiti from Pompeii, ca. 79 CE; recall that the Kama Sutra was collated into its present form not much later in a different part of the world; going back even further, here's an ancient Egyptian copy of Playboy (ca. ~1150 BCE); hell, you could find sex all over the place in Paleolithic cave art.
We've been sexual creatures for a long, long time. It is, after all, how we make more of us.
I find it odd that any parent would willingly subject their nine year old to graphic violence, yet get all squirmy as soon as the skin comes out. Is it because I'm not a parent myself? If a stork magically dropped a bundle of joy into our house -- and at this point, that's what it would take -- would I suddenly turn into an overprotective prude?
I'd like to think not. I'd like to think that my mindset is based on reason. Reason has shown us over and over again that if you're looking to audition your teen for 16 and Pregnant, the best way to do it is to withhold as much information about sex as you can.
Now, I'm not suggesting I'd load up some hardcore porn site and let my hypothetical nine-year old, girl or boy, run amok on it. Nor would I necessarily want my kid watching something like Game of Thrones alone. There's bound to be questions, and I'd kind of want to be there to provide levelheaded answers. In the case of the porn site, "no, honey, that's not typical" (where "that" is any number of things). As for Game of Thrones, I'd be there to put the violence -- and the sex, for that matter -- in context.
A comment to that BoingBoing post, by "Ethan Holman", is so good I believe I'm going to steal it:
It's like I always say: Only the most disturbed and broken of children will grow up to participate in acts of a sexual nature, but virtually every well adjusted human being will commit multiple gruesome acts of violence over the course of their lives. So it just makes sense that we protect our children from nipples and moaning.