Prime-Time TV Glorifies Non-Maritial Sex
Special Report - August 13, 2008
Non-marital sexual behaviorsincluding adultery and “threesomes”dominate the broadcast television airwaves, while marriage relationships are either ignored or portrayed in a negative light, according to a new report from the Parents Television Council (PTC). The media watch dog group analyzed television programs on the major broadcast networks (NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, and CW) during the first month of the 2007-08 season. The results are documented in the August 5 PTC Special Report, “Happily Never After: How Hollywood Favors Adultery and Promiscuity Over Marital Intimacy on Prime Time Broadcast Television.” Among the key findings:
• Verbal references to non-marital sex outnumbered references to marital sex by a ratio of nearly three to one.
• Scenes that depict or imply sexual activity between unmarried couples outnumbered scenes that depict or imply sex between married couples by a nearly four to one ratio.
• References to adultery outnumbered references to married sex by a two to one margin.
• “Family Hour,” when children are most likely to be watching, contained the highest number of references to non-marital sex versus married sex.
• Visual references to “alternative” sexual behaviors, such as voyeurism, incest, prostitution, homosexuality, and sexual bondage, outnumbered visual references to married sex by a nearly three to one ratio.
“Sexual content on television is predominately extra-marital; the institution of marriage is regularly mocked and denigrated; adulterous relationships are treated sympathetically,” the PTC study concludes. “Behaviors that were once seen as fringe, immoral or socially destructive have been given the imprimatur of acceptability by the television industryand children are absorbing those messages and in many cases imitating that behavior.”
Recent surveys of teenagers highlight the growing acceptance of non-marital behaviors among young people. For example, recent data from the University of Michigan’s Monitoring the Future survey, a national survey of high school students, shows that 44.9 percent of boys and 32.3 percent of girls in 1976-1980 agreed that living together before marriage is “usually a good idea,” compared to 64.1 percent of boys and 56.8 percent of girls in 2001-2005. On the issue of having children outside of marriage, 41.2 percent of boys and 33.3 percent of girls said unwed childbearing is acceptable in 1976-1980, compared to 55.9 percent of boys and 55.8 percent of girls who considered it acceptable in 2001-2004.
“For many years, parents have worried about television’s glamorization of destructive sexual behavior,” said PTC advisory board member and talk show host, Michael Medved. “This important new report suggests another cause for concern: the de-glamorization of marriage. Statistics show that the overwhelming majority of Americans feel satisfied and fulfilled by their marriages. The notion that sex outside of marriage is inherently more exciting, more important, more worthy as the subject of story-telling, is a toxic message for parents and children alike.”
Copyright © 2008. North Carolina Family Policy Council. All rights reserved.