in ,

Less Sex, Please: Gen Z’s Surprising Thoughts on Intimacy In Media

Source: Pexels/vjapramata

There are many instincts that humans have that we indulge in without even thinking about it. Hunger, thirst, sleep, breathing. These are instincts that were created and driven by nature, and nobody thinks twice about sleeping when you’re tired. Perhaps the most primal and ancient of instincts, though, is one that the youth of America have some surprising opinions on.

Nothing New Here

Sex in media is by no means a new phenomenon. Shakespeare himself spent a good amount of lines in his plays making jokes and references to the basic human act. Even shows like The Golden Girls and Cheers made storylines out of lewd jokes and humorous sexuality.

Source: Pexels/This is Zun

The long history of sex in the media makes new revelations from a study out of UCLA that much more surprising. A survey of more than 1500 participants aged 10-24 found that, for those who were asked about sex, many said that they wanted to see less sex in the media, not more.

Old History, Old News

The concern about sexuality in the media has a long history, particularly in America. A study in 2000 by the National Institute of Health posited concerns for youth observing too much sex on TV, particularly in regards to the HIV epidemic and the risks associated with it.

Source: Pexels/Andrea Piacquadio

Even further back, in the 20th century the Catholic Legion of Decency advocated for the implementation of the Hays Code. The Hays code was a largely self-enforced set of rules that Hollywood was obligated to abide by between 1934 and 1968. These rules forbade any depictions of profanity, suggestive sexuality, nudity, explicit violence, and rape.

Sex Goes Beyond Just Television

Sexual portrayals go further back than the modern portrayal on screen, as well. Erotic depictions on page became popular in the 15th century when the printing press was invented, given the portability of the printings. In the 19th century, the Marquis de Sade wrote several novels that depicted the “libertine” lifestyle, including graphic displays of violence and sexuality.

Source: Pexels/Julia M Cameron

Even more subtle portrayals of romance were considered deeply amoral at the time. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is considered a novel of manners, but by modern standards it has all the hallmarks of a romance novel. Many beloved stories that we still study and cherish revolve around the idea of wealth or sex.

The Youth Have Surprising Things To Say

Given how normal sex is in many aspects of relationships, the findings out of UCLA are surprising, to say the least. The “Teens and Screens” report found that over 50% of youth preferred to see fewer portrayals of romantic relationships and sex on screen.

Source: Pexels/vjapramata

Instead, they wanted to see more portrayals of strong friendships and platonic relationships between men and women. A significant portion felt that romance as a plot device is overused in media, and a group beyond that wanted to see more portrayals of asexual and aromatic relationships in media.

Different Types of Relationships Are Sought After

On a more niche level, Gen Z had opinions about the types of relationships that they wanted to see on screen, not just the amount of romance that was portrayed. Some participants stated that they felt that there was no room for platonic relationships between men and women.

Source: Pexels/Yan Krukau

Another small group felt that the portrayal of relationships between men and women had become dated. The trope of the “jerk” still getting the girl in the end was seen as overplayed, and some even believed that the trope normalized abuse in relationships.

What Does It All Mean?

What’s fascinating about the findings of this report is not just what the youth overtly responded to, but what it means underneath. Since 2020, there’s been an unsettling pattern of mental health issues and loneliness in young people, and the results of this study may point to some of the consequences of that.

Source: Pexels/Pavel Danilyuk

Not only are young people longing to see different types of relationships on screen outside of the realm of human sexuality, but they’re also practicing what they preach. Studies show that youth are having less sex than their parents were at the same age, and their media preferences seem to back these findings up.

A Disconnect Between Reality and Media

Some other findings with this study were that young people are looking for more stories that reflect their current lives. In the past, the results of this same survey showed that young people wanted to see stories that were different than theirs, suggesting a shift in a way of cultural thinking.

Source: Pexels/fauxels

Beyond the implications for what the youth want and are thinking, the results of this study seem to suggest a disconnect between young people and the reality around them. Many of the participants believe that there’s too much sex in the media, but what is the reality of that claim?

There’s Really Not As Much Sex As You Think

In studies done on actual sexual content in television and movies, it’s been found that in reality, there’s very little actual sexual content portrayed on screen. A survey done of 45 prime time television shows revealed that only one portrayed actual sex. There was a great deal of conversation about sex, but no true portrayal.

Source: Pexels/Josh Willinik

Beyond the results of how little sexual content there is in the media, the results of the study also ignores an important factor of sex on screen. Many young people learn about human sexuality and from the media, including safe sex practices and different ways of having relationships. If those depictions are taken away, the educational factor is taken away as well.

It’s More Important Than Just TV

The conversation about sexual content in the media is nuanced, and isn’t as simple as saying that sex should be removed from the conversation altogether. While it is important that there be varied types of relationships portrayed on screen, completely removing the sex factor is not the solution either.

Source: Pexels/Gustavo Fring

With new censorship laws being passed every day and the threat of sexuality being further legislated by law, it’s important for young people to have more than a passing understanding of sex. Media is an important part of that, even if they don’t understand the impact yet. They will eventually, and they will better understand what they need to advocate for.

What do you think?

200 Points
Upvote Downvote
James Cross

Written by James Cross

James Cross, an enigmatic writer from the historic city of Boston. James' writing delves into mysteries, true crime, and the unexplained, crafting compelling narratives that keep readers and viewers on the edge of their seats. His viral articles, blog posts, and documentary-style videos explore real-life enigmas and unsolved cases, inviting audiences to join the quest for answers. James' ability to turn real mysteries into shareable content has made him a sensation in the world of storytelling.

Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

These Cows Have Portholes to Their Stomach – But It’s All for a Good Reason

“ScareBnb” Popularity On The Rise as Vacationers Seek Out The Supernatural