Sexuality Academic vs Popular Media Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

SEXUALITY IN SCHOLARLY & POPULAR MEDIA

Sexuality in Scholar & Popular Media

The author of this report has been asked to review articles regarding sexuality. Two articles were selected in total with one appearing in a scholarly journal while the other appeared in a more mainstream and non-academic periodical. While one medium of communication and media is not necessarily superior to the other, is still beyond question that the standards, aims and motivations are going to be different between the two forums with academic journals focusing more on knowledge and truth and mainstream periodicals focusing on circulation and entertainment.

The scholarly article selected was written in 2012 and appeared in the European Journal of Contraception and Reproductive Health Care. Authored by three people, the article pertains to the social and ethical determinants of sexuality. Particularly, this treatise focuses on sexuality and families. The stated objective of the article was to "investigate the evolving relationship between sexuality and family formation." It continues by saying that new "family units exist today whose impact on society needs to be explored." The primary conclusions and results garnered from this article established that the three more pervasive monotheism-based religions in society focus on procreation when speaking of sexuality. However, the advent and creation of technologies like in vitro fertilization and so forth have actually caused a bit of separation between sexuality and procreation. Obviously, a complete break between the two is not present because "accidents" happen and many women still intentionally go the more conventional route of becoming pregnant. Even so, sexuality and procreation are very much considered each in their own right because the linkage and correlation of the two is not as definitive and vast as it once was. Ergo, the ultimate conclusion rendered is that while there is an increased separation between sexuality and procreation, the link is still omnipresent for many people and that is unlikely to change over the long haul even with the increase use of non-traditional birthing and child adoption methods. Perhaps the most quintessential example of this is couples that seek children even though they are physically unable to bear their own biological children. These people would include same-sex couples, people that are infertile and people that are too old to have children reliably and healthily without fear of birth defects and so on (Benagiano, Carrara & Filippi, 2012).

Many other times, the adoption and/or surrogate process is purely discretionary and is not a function of physical inability. An example would be a working woman who wants a child but chooses not to be sideline by a pregnancy and the first weeks of life. The method of the study was a literature review that focused on specific topics like anthropology, sociology, sexology and ethics. A compare and contrast of this scholarly media was demarcated based on articles that focused on "traditional" nuclear families and step-parent situations and those based on "new" family types like same-sex couples, single parents that enter single parenthood by choice and so forth. The sources used included search results from Google, Science Direct, PubMed and religious websites (Benagiano, Carrara & Filippi, 2012).

The popular media article about sexuality appeared in the magazine Educational Leadership. The subject of the article was the idea of fostering positive sexuality. The article is actually quite old, as it was authored in 1991. However, a whole lot has changed since then and the author of this report chose this article to see what the perspective was more than twenty years ago in the popular media and culture spheres. The author makes a fairly controversial suggestion right off the bat by suggesting that teachers are on the forefront of fostering and shaping mindsets and learning about sexuality. While this may make some parents recoil, the author makes the point that how the teacher acts as a male or female, how they react to sexual banter between the students, whether the teacher is male or female in general as well as other things make the topic of sexuality while teaching very poignant and important even if it is mostly (if not entirely) via nuance and subtle messaging (Brick, 1991).

The article suggests that there are plenty of "teachable moments" that teachers can utilize to help foster growth and learning about sexuality without being too controversial or explicit. For example, if a student remarks that their mother or some other woman has a "baby growing in their tummy," the teacher can teach the child about the uterus and how that part of the woman's body is where the baby forms and grows before birth. The article also points out that there are two subjects where sexuality absolutely will come up unless the teacher specifically and deliberately avoids it and that would be English and History/Social Studies. The author points to the overtones obvious in plays like Romeo and Juliet or how it must have been for Anne Frank to endure what she did whilst also going through puberty. However, the author of the article suggests that such avoidance and dodging only hurts children in the long run as they are bombarded by negative and untrue facts and details in popular media all of the time and this must be counteracted some way other than the parents doing it. Further, the parents may very well be avoiding the subject themselves or they may not feel there is a problem to be addressed. Examples of "bad" influences pertaining to sexuality, as named by the article's author, include MTV, Barbie, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and others. The author assails these as examples of the violence and sexualized images. Also pointed out are the sexual situations on soaps and how any mention of birth control or "safe sex" is usually absent (Brick, 1991).

In terms of how the articles are different, there are actually not a ton of differences. There are no pictures and graphics in either article but both make use of figures and examples throughout. The scholarly article is obviously more academic and scientific in nature and there is a literature review in the academic one while the magazine seems to be mostly the opinion and perspective of the author and that is where the differences begin. The academic article is not relying only on their material and perspective. Rather they actively chose to look at many different kinds of sources relating to sexuality and then synthesizing what was going on with sexuality rather than suggesting what someone "should" do or "must" do. The popular media article was the opposite of this. Conversely, the magazine article seemed to avoid more controversial topics like same-sex parents and the familial structure of the children in question while the academic article made it a specific objective to loop in those perspectives as well as those oriented more towards religion and morality perceptions.

Even with the differences and shortcoming of the two articles, they are indeed two different types of publishing and thus should not be considered to be alike even though the subjects they cover greatly intersect. The academic article has value as it shows that there is a clear trend that is separating procreation and sexuality. It does so in a way that is neutral as they do not pass judgments about one side or the other but they still include both to show all of the relevant perspectives in play. On the other hand, the popular media article reviews a slightly different topic but it is presented more as an editorial yet with some real-world evidence to buttress the points being made. The characterization of fairly mild cartoons such as the Turtles is a bit much to some, probably, and the author either is ambivalent or avoiding of topics that are more controversial and thus worthy of consideration. Perhaps she did not find it relevant or perhaps she did not want to stir up too much vitriol from people that would read the article. Put concisely, the academic article is more scientific and impartial while the periodical is clearly taking a stand on an issue and that stand is something that is far from accepted by parents or social scientists alike. For example, some parents would scream loudly that teachers have no right or business in teaching their children sexuality as the parents may feel they are the one and only source that their child should be listening to. It would be an ignorant stance as both the academic and popular media articles state (correctly) that people are bombarded with data and opinions about the subject and children would be no different. In fact, children would be worse off because a lot of the viewpoints would be incomplete or even incorrect.

However, the popular media article is a little lacking in that they seem to ignore that the cartoons and shows they reference are not present to teach about birth control, safe sex or not assaulting people with weapons in public. Furthermore, the academic article not treading any new ground and the conclusions drawn…

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