Whose Moral Values Are They Anyway?

First there was the sight of Janet Jackson's pastie-adorned breast at the Superbowl, then Nicollet Sheridan's towel-dropping scene on Monday Night Football. A public outcry followed, deploring the obsessively sexual orientation of advertising, entertainment, and the media as a whole.

As the debates rage, a core question must arise: if sex is known to sell anything, who is doing the buying?

Public Relations and marketing gurus give the public what they crave. If they don't, they are out of a job. How many new viewers will Desperate Housewives gain because of the uproar over their ad? Thousands? A million or two? And who enjoyed the gratuitous nudity? Those who "missed it" on Monday Night Football were able to indulge their curiosity as the tape was replayed and replayed ad nauseum. Who in America has not seen it by now? Surely only the sightless and the occasional hermit could have missed it.

So what does that say about the current state of U.S. morality? We are not all depraved, immoral, addicted to pornography, nor necessarily in favor of public sexual displays. We are simply curious people who are still in a reaction phase to a long history of sexual repression. After the strait jacket of the puritan period and the social constraints of the following 300 years, the pendulum is swinging as it always has. It makes a wide arc until slowly returning to the center.

Those who openly seek to legislate morality would do well to recall the disastrous social experiment of prohibition, imposed by a righteous and vocal minority, and its permanent legacy of crime, murder, and corruption.

Virginia Bola is a licensed clinical psychologist with deep interests in Social Psychology and politics. She has performed therapeutic services for more than 20 years and has studied the effects of cultural forces and employment on the individual. The author of an interactive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://www.virginiabola.com

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