By Zakk Mabrey
Sex sells: a fact that continues to entrance and entangle people worldwide. The commercialization of sex is now a worldwide phenomenon and is becoming common place. Nearly everywhere you look, sexual signals are being placed into the minds of people of all ages.
“Sex drive is something we all have to deal with,” Lara West, a professional sex therapist, said. “And because it is a basic drive, we have a hard time overriding it.”
Companies and businesses use all forms of media to advertise their brands, from television and commercials to computer advertising. With such a spike in media and internet usage, it is nearly impossible to avoid all of the advertisements.
“Internet can expose you to literally anything, whether intentional or not, and regardless of age,” Matt Marshall, a counselor at North Central, said.
More often than not, websites include advertisements all over the screen. All of these advertisements also flood the television screen. It is estimated that, out of a 30 minute television show, about eight minutes of its air time is devoted to commercials. Also more often than not, these commercials are flooded with sexual signals.
“My little game I play is to try to figure out what they are selling with all that sex, and sometimes it is not so clear,” West said.
Sexual commercials are becoming more and more common. With regularity, companies such as GoDaddy release commercials that seem to be increasingly suggestive. Some of these commercials can be a bit much for viewers to absorb, especially considering the fact that in the 1960s, it was pushing the limits to show a woman in her bikini on TV.
“These commercials have become more and more prominent with the time, and they are just pushing the limits of what is acceptable,” Buck Black, a clinical social worker in Lafayette said.
All of these sexual images can have a profound effect on the actions of adolescents. In the teenage years, the brain is still developing. During this stage of life, boys and girls are very impressionable and can fall into habits based upon the things they see and experience. When inundated with such a volume of stimulations, the teenage brain is incapable of handling all of the signals it is given.
“Kids get sexual images, but they aren’t mature enough to grasp the severity of the issue,” Marshall said. “This puts them in a bad spot. They don’t know how to handle the images, and they then begin to portray the images without fully grasping the message they send.”
When the promise of instantaneous sexual opportunities mixes with the natural teenage rush of hormones, the average teenager with an unstable and not yet fully matured brain is made susceptible to falling into the traps of sexual marketing that big businesses use.
Axe deodorant, for example, makes claims of the “Axe effect” with promises to attract women. This message has helped the company in gaining a 9.2 percent share of the male grooming market.
As teachers and school teach abstinence, society and commercials preach against it. The drive for sex runs rampant in nearly all of society’s messages.
“There is a lot of contradiction in society,” Black said, “Actually, society in general is biased toward sex before marriage, and sex with little to no commitment.”
Many of the sexually-charged advertisements’ promises go unfulfilled, such as promises to attract multitudes of women.
“It is all a little contradictory,” senior Troy Thompson said. “The teachers say to us that we shouldn’t be having sex, but these companies are basically saying that we can have sex if we buy what they have. Alcohol, cigarette, and Axe commercials all use sex to sell their products.”
Sex sells; there is no easy way around it. With the growth of businesses and media, the commercialization of sex is bound to continue as companies try to keep up with one another. Every day, countless adolescents and impressionable youths are exposed to sexual images, ideas and situations. With exposure at younger and younger ages, the desensitization to sex can only continue to affect society.
I am Zakk Mabrey, a senior at North Central High School in Indianapolis. I am going to Indiana Wesleyan University to double major in sports management and sports ministries, with a minor in journalism. This is my second year writing for a journalism group. I hope to one day write for ESPN.