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Oracle, others ignore shadow side of sex

It’s obvious that sex sells. One needs not look any further than the Montage section of this very paper for evidence. Headlines have included “A day in the porn industry,” “Tampa’s sexiest shops” and “Where’s the sex?” Previous pieces in this paper have ranged from sex tapes and sex shops to… well, you could probably group any other word with “sex” and get the idea.

As a capitalist, I have no qualms with a college paper attempting to boost readership by catering to students’ interests. Even though copies of The Oracle are free, it generates income via ads, which coincidently are often about sex.

What I find myself troubled by is the type of nonchalant, almost flippant attitude toward the subject of sex that is displayed in much of the media today.

Long gone are the days when sex was treated as a sacred, private matter between husbands and wives. The types of subjects — and lurid details about the subject — discussed regularly through print, television and radio these days would have been accompanied by shock and shame in the days our parents grew up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we should ban talk about sex or start increasing censorship — far from it. As a libertarian conservative (don’t ask me for an exact definition of that), I’m pretty skeptical of the role the government in general — and the FCC in specific — has played in restricting the freedoms of speech and the press.

I’m not as worried about government’s role as I am about the culture’s role, an exception being the role public-school sex education has played in promoting premarital sex and “alternative lifestyles.” What I’m more concerned about is a media that promotes such activities as recreational — the term “free love” was used for such a mindset in earlier years.

While everyone would like sex without consequences, the truth is that there are consequences to such behavior. All actions have consequences. And with the misuse of sex, it’s not only the physical consequences (AIDS, herpes, you name it), but also the emotional and psychological harm that can be done as well.

One result of the misuse of sex, encompassing elements of all three consequences — physical, emotional and psychological — is abortion. The physical consequences of abortion take toll on both the health of the woman and, especially, the health of the baby she has decided to abort. The emotional and psychological damage that it does to the mother are also significant issues.

In February, Norma McCorvey, aka “Jane Roe,” of the famous Roe. v. Wade case, challenged the 1973 decision that made abortion in many instances legal in the United States. McCorvey, who never had the abortion and is now a Christian, has worked in abortion clinics. She and many other women have testified to the damage the procedure can do to a woman.

Critics argue that teaching proper modes of protection would suffice to prevent the negative consequences associated with sex. While in a number of cases it may prevent many physical consequences, it cannot prevent the type of emotional and mental scarring that can occur not only from an abortion, but also the other consequences. Only personal responsibility and a commitment to higher standards can prevent those effects.

But that message of responsible and principled behavior doesn’t seem to sell well. Not only are stories about sex featured in papers, but also in ads. I’m sure many are familiar with the ads for women’s clinics that often appear in print. If you aren’t, they are the ones that promote their services by, among other tactics, featuring the word “abortions” in bold print and caps.

The media is good at catering to the first two steps of the downward spiral of sexual irresponsibility, the first step being sex itself and the second step being the abortion. If only they would do more to highlight the third step: the damage the first two steps can cause.

Adam Fowler is a USF almunus.