Media's Influence Sexual Behaviors Values 20 Years  Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

media's influence sexual behaviors values 20 years. Examine sexual behaviors values changed time frame. Investigate types media print, film, music. Consider questions: •How laws changed? •How affected acceptable today vs. acceptable time periods? •How cultures differ media influence? •How cultures differ sexual behaviors values? •How cultures portray sexuality media? Include a minimum 10 scholarly references.

That the media exerts a rather dominant influence in the modern world is not debatable. That it has been influencing decision making, patterned thinking, behavioral responses, is also unquestionable. Much has been studied and speculated on the reasons why this has happened and why is it that our societies seem to rely extensively on the media for certain answers, guidance, etc. In this paper however, it is not the why's that interest us but rather to trace the how of what the media has brought about in terms of change in relation to behaviors and values.

1. The Changing of Law

Earlier this year, newspapers and TV news alike were covering the topic ?for the right to die. This was in relation to the British Columbia Supreme Court Justice Lynn Smith who had ruled in favor of assisted suicide but had the case appealed. The idea that someone would have a legal right to euthanasia has been a controversial issue for a very long time now. In 1993, Sue Rodriguez from British Columbia sought to challenge the court in regards to the prohibition of assisted suicide but had her willing to die initiative dismissed as unconstitutional. The court supported in a five to four decision that it was indeed a criminal offence to assist a person to commit suicide (Smith, 1993, p. 2). Nevertheless, euthanasia was considered by Hoefler & Kamoie since 1994 as among the ?most legally complex and culturally sensitive areas of civil rights to emerge in our time? (as cited in Park, 1998, p. 277). In 1999, Jack Kevorkian, a doctor, was sentenced to jail after having admitted that he had helped 130 of his patients to die. This year September, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) invited Charles Falconer, a British politician, to participate in a discussion regarding his initiative to support assisted suicide as legal. In the United States, assisted suicide is legal in three states, Oregon, Washington, and Montana. Internationally, euthanasia is legal in merely the Netherlands and Belgium, since recent years. However, assisted suicide is legal in Albania and Luxembourg. Having said this, there seems to be a fair percentage of people supporting assisted suicide who balance and sometimes overpower the number of people against it. A survey of 760 respondents revealed that 55% favored legalization of assisted suicide while 41 were against it (Christen & Gunther, 2003, "Results") Despite a majority of people believing that terminal ill patients should have a legal right to die, there continues to be ?little case law in the United States relating to state laws that permit physician -- assisted suicide. (Tiedemann et al., 2011, p. i) However, with the emergence of public opinion favoring terminal ill patients right to die, it could be argued that states will have to address the issue regularly and perhaps we may witness state regulations in this respect. Furthermore, that many other countries choose to adopt and indeed address cases of assisted suicide as individual case laws, substantiates the idea of pattern changing.

Sexual acts, on some occasions, have been listed as crimes. This is in relation to what is perceived on terms of being immoral or devalued. Sexual acts between same sex partners continue to mesmerize and indeed challenge individuals' beliefs and perceptions all over the globe. Nevertheless, with same sex marriage fighting to receive legality, there is no doubt we are witnessing a change of what is considered natural or unusual and/or immoral. This is indeed a broader issue because it asks for the reevaluation of human rights and equality. Indeed, it appears that, where there is no existing constitution, same-sex marriages, are more likely to be accepted as common norm, such as it is in Australia (Lindell, 2008, p. 37-38) There are various states in the United States that have already declared in favor of same sex marriage and countries in the world that have adopted similar legislation. These changes however should not take anyone by surprise since entertainment elements of the modern century have long perpetuated sexual conduct that favors acts between partners of the same sex. Indeed, we find that movies choose to explore the topic of love between either two men or two women, music pictorials often project lascivious behavior mostly in relation to women, etc. These changes of law have subsequently influenced public perception and have determined people to re-evaluate common beliefs or values that may have been more strictly regarded merely a few years back than what common belief asserts of these values today.

2. The Changing of Law and the Changes of Value

The passing of laws in favor of assisted -- suicide or same-sex marriage have led to a shift in public opinion regarding the acceptability of the aforementioned issues as common norms. Of course, as we have seen, these are not mutually nor generally accepted as "normal" in all societies or by all people. On the other hand, it can just as well be argued that it was in fact the favoring of assisted suicide and same-sex marriage by people, which has led to thriving efforts of implementing these as legal issues. Public perception can easily be influenced nowadays through the intermediary of TV shows, music, movies, etc. When BBC invited Falconer to support with arguments his plan of legalizing assisted suicide, the former had initially planned to invite a doctor who would have argued against it. However, the doctor in cause was called a few hours before the show and announced that he was no longer needed. In relation to this, it could be argued that people watching the show and hearing the arguments in favor, could have been influenced by the figure of the politician in regards to his opinion about assisted suicide. Furthermore, BBC is recognized as an important and transparent TV station which is also likely to contribute to an individual's belief upon a certain topic. A study evaluating people's perceptions in relation to other people's statements has concluded that indeed, what one projects as a personal belief, stands influenced ?at least in part, from selective exposure to similar others. (Christen & Gunther, 2003, "Discussion") We understand thus that even indirectly, media does "coerce" one to assimilate ideas and values. Thus, the changes that we have witnessed in the past years are as much a result from media influence as they have resulted from changes in regards to law liberties. Homosexual conduct is no longer disapproved on such a large scale and this has also happened due to constant efforts of legalizing same-sex marriage. Furthermore, this has given course to a change in belief in regards to sexual conduct generally. Whereas sex acts between adolescents would have been highly discouraged in the past, general opinion seems to favor nowadays sexual education that would at least prevent unfortunate incidents from happening as a result of sexual intercourse.

3. Media influence in regards to other cultures

Suggestions have been made as to media representing, for the entire world, a social problem (Kellner, 2004, p. 209). Willnat & Wilkins have indeed stated that ?mass media effects studies in Western countries have confirmed some suspicions that audiences are influenced, in some respects and under certain conditions, by the media. (1998, p. 29) The latter is indeed true considering that some states have managed to conserve moral values in regards to sexual conduct and general human and cultural values more prominently. For example, the national identity of the Iranian people would hardly be identified with sexual misconduct. As such, the "conditions" that have prevented the media from exploiting sexual subjects are directly linked to the country's national identity that has strict regulations in regards to conduct generally, not to mention sexuality. Likewise, it is more likely that other countries would be influenced by the media on topics outside sexual behaviors. Political affiliations, educational purposes, propaganda, etc., are more likely to constitute basis for influencing by the media.

4. Sexuality in Other Cultures

In the Jewish tradition, sexuality is closely link with spirituality and religion per se. Indeed, in the Hebrew Bible, ?there emerges a sense that the union of man and woman was inherently good, intended since creation, for the purposes of procreation and companionship (whether practical or emotional) ? (Berger, 2005, p. 2) The Indian tradition also renders sexuality as part of the religious tradition but rather differs in its approach and consensus of religious beliefs. In India, ?more people are accepting the fact that sexuality plays a crucial role not only in procreation but also for pleasure. (Avasthi et al., 2008, "Introduction") In Africa, sexual values would perhaps appear as contradictious to the outside world since there is a fair amount of liberty…

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