So, I’m sitting in a cafe and in front of me there’s an enormous TV screen playing music videos on a loop. What’s on? Well, currently I’m eyeballing four or five gurning, gyrating girls. I say eyeballing, but actually the view is slightly lower than that – all hot pants, bosoms, lippy, latex and glitter. Funnily enough, over the course of several coffees whilst the songs change, the view remains much the same. I’m here with hubby – but out of the two of us, it’s me who can’t tear her eyes from the screen, (and not only because he’s in mortal fear of turning that neck even an inch to the right). I’m riveted. It’s making me angry and dissatisfied, but I can’t stop watching.
So what’s going on? Well, for starters, despite the sexualised iconography, the target audience for this channel isn’t men, but teenage girls. Now, before granny Scrivener embarks on an impassioned denunciation of the yoof of today, let’s consider what’s going on in her own heart. For starters, I want to be a Pussycat Doll. I say I hate what they represent , but I want to look like that – all hair and legs and glossy look-don’t-touch sexuality. Now, this is a dream that will not come true. The gene pool allocation has been cast and no amount of surgery or leg-stretching will transform said Nornirish dwarf into a leggy blonde. So there’s a big temptation for me to invest instead in a currency I can wield. Like morality. (Remember, I’m from the family of which my it is said ‘her brother got the looks, her sister got the brains and Emma got the morals’). But, whilst dissecting and destroying the girl bands and media of today might (who am I kidding? It will -) make me feel better, it’s not the real problem. Nor is it sex, per se. It’s my attitude towards it.
You see, sex and women, (especially Christian women), gets a bad rap. Stephen Fry recently sparked a media frenzy by opining that women just don’t like it. Which is nonsense, as is the view that women don’t struggle with say, pornography. (30% of porn site hits come from women). As a friend has written on her blog, the equivalent of pornography for women is not romantic fiction. It’s porn. But that’s another issue.
Where was I? Ah yes, sex. What is it about? Scripturally, sex is not whambamthankyouma’am. It’s a covenant promise, part of a total self-giving of which the body is the final handshake. Where, within the safety of the marriage relationship, two people are emotionally, spiritually and finally, physically naked and – crucially, without shame. Where men step out in strength and gentleness to love and give, whilst women are liberated to receive with joy and peace.
In contrast, what do these sexualized images offer? Sex without intimacy. Invitation without delivery. Toying, teasing, frustrating. Everything on show, flesh exposed, but nothing really given. A plastic, disposable body. A plastic disposable person.
And both men and women are transfixed. Why is that?