Sex sells, but why?

Lately, there has been an overwhelming sexual presence in the media. From car commercials to Rihanna, sex is everywhere, pressuring people to buy, watch, and essentially become addicted to this new sexual culture. It is not just happenstance that a bikini model waltzes onto the screen of every beer commercial, or that every Calvin Klein model has a 10-pack. The media have created a consumer culture in which everyone’s goal is to be sexy, and products are sexy (so they want us to believe).

Sex and sexuality are observed in almost, if not every, media outlet. One particular overtly sexual domain is the music industry. According to Dr. Marty Klein,

“When teenagers started making [albums] for teenagers, popular music stopped being about anything but love—and sex soon followed,” says Klein.

With this view, it was the contribution of youth to the larger media scene that spiked the presence of sex in the media. If nothing else, this opinion solidifies sex as truly the lowest common denominator between human beings, and since sex is something experienced by most people, songs about love and sex ensure some level of listener relate-ability. There is also almost always an element of youthfulness depicted alongside with sex. You get 20-something “Dirty” Christina Aguilera wearing pretty much the same thing as 50-something Madonna. No one in their right mind would say that skintight suits and almost-nipple cleavage are appropriate for anyone approaching their senior years, but it would be indicative of someone desperately trying to maintain a youthful, thus sexy, image.

With the apparent decline of the sacredness of sexuality and the human body, came hyper sexualized television shows and movies. It seems true that lately the only thing more entertaining than sex itself is watching it on the boob tube. Previously, television shows and movies only alluded to sex. That is, a couple would go into the bedroom, shut the door, and then it would cut to the notorious after-sex cigarette scene, forcing the viewer to piece together the sexual events in their heads. With modern shows such as True Blood, Game of Thrones, Girls, or anything else on HBO, you don’t have to use your imagination to see what Sookie looks likes naked—she’s right there, spread eagle and available for the world’s viewing.

As a sex-columnist and 20-something, I’d have to argue that sex in the media is largely just a scheme to toy with men’s easy excitability and competitive nature, and women’s desire to remain forever youthful. Most ads, shows, and songs about (or including) sex include significantly more female nudity and sexuality than male, which must say something about the difference in sexual attentiveness between the sexes at the very least.

However, sex is an easy sell for both men and women because anyone who’s had it knows it’s good, and anyone who hasn’t knows it’s supposed to be good—and if a product even subliminally uses sex as a selling point, the mind likely processes the product as having the ability to provide a similar caliber of pleasure. My advice? Stop buying sex in the form of perfume or tight jeans, and just go do it old school.

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