Sex and Violence

Ah, one of the eternal discussions, but one that we do not dwell upon nearly as frequently as Atheism or Gun-Control. But, since I would like to hear some good arguments from both sides, I'm going to start it again;

What is 'worse' (causing negative stereotypes and bad social structures, unwanted connotations or similarly harmful effects upon the populace) to display in media, sexual content, or violent content?
In the US, sexual content is taboo, while violence seems to be generally accepted. In Northern Europe, it is the reverse.
Is either worse than the other, or are both equally bad, or is none of it bad?

Discuss.

"It depends".

Is "Sexual content" people in a healthy adult relationship having sex? Or is it just decorating the place with naked women who aren't there for any other reason?

Is the violence for a purpose, or just for revel in violence?

thaluikhain:
"It depends".

Is "Sexual content" people in a healthy adult relationship having sex? Or is it just decorating the place with naked women who aren't there for any other reason?

Is the violence for a purpose, or just for revel in violence?

It can be both. Just showing partial nudity is enough to get it shot up to an R-rating in some countries. Showing a tender sex-scene can too, and similarly, just showing 'violence for a purpose' (like spousal abuse in a story about domestic violence) can have the same effect. Is sex 'for no reason' worse than 'violence for no reason', and is 'sex for a reason' worse than 'violence for a reason'?

Without going into specifics, sex is better to display.

Although both can potentially be very negative, sexual content is the only one that can potentially be good and healthy.

While violence might not necessarily be evil(Someone killing a serial killer in self-defense) it is always at least regrettable because it would be better to solve conflicts through non-violent means. Better the two countries made peace then went to war, better the police convince someone to surrender than shoot them, better that the serial killer is arrested and taken into custody then killed themself, etc.

Violence is inherently wrong and something to be avoided even if it is acceptable or allowed under many circumstances. Sex and sexual content isn't.

Realitycrash:
Is sex 'for no reason' worse than 'violence for no reason', and is 'sex for a reason' worse than 'violence for a reason'?

My take is that in it's 'default state' sex is entirely natural and probably positive, whereas violence is anything but. Thus, all other things being equal, sexual content is preferable to violence.

I remember when I was about 11 they showed us a bit of the Titanic film in school because we were doing a project on the sinking.
My parents were utterly mystified that the teachers were perfectly willing to let us watch 900-odd people drown/freeze/get crushed to death, but made sure that all the parents knew that we hadn't seen the implied sex scene. As if a steamed-up car window was the bit that had the potential to upset kids.

That said, context probably has a more significant effect than the intrinsic sex vs violence scale for me.
Effectively filmed extreme violence as part of a decent plot is imo preferable to a bunch of crass and demeaning sex scenes, for example. Though the inverse also applies - crass and pointless violence a la Saw is far worse than almost any scenes of a sexual nature!

As for ratings systems in particular, it seems ridiculous to British me when you look at US ratings compared to elsewhere. Literally to the point where a mild sex scene with no actual nudity will impart a more severe rating than a graphic and bloody onscreen headshot or something.
And even in Britain we're a bit prudish when it comes to sex scenes compared to elsewhere in Europe!

In the media?

Sex.

Violence in media will not make teenagers or adults violent. They know that if they actually become violent they risk getting into trouble or getting beat up over it, and those motivations are far more powerful than "I saw it on TV and it looked fun" will ever be.

Sex meanwhile is not illegal and you probably won't get beat up for it (unless you're into that) and humans have a natural sex drive. I don't think sex in the media actually does a lot of damage, but I'm no expert. My guess is that whatever it does is worse than what fake violence does which IMO is probably nothing (unless you get into torture porn or show it to small kids).

I'm speaking as a general rule of thumb. Maybe if you see someone solving the same problems you have by being aggressive and/or violent it might make someone consider it, but seeing for example Inglorious Basterds, in modern U.S./Germany won't change you at all.

Not to be obtuse, but what are we defining as violence? Aggression? Conflict? Death? Gore? Because not only are these four things not synonymous, I think there are valid or even artistic ways to portray all of the above.

I suppose it comes down to how gratuitous the content is? Ditto with sexual content.

Well, violence has much...darker consequences, but people are more likely to lessen their lives by being careless with sex. The vast majority of people are going to have sex, how many people are going to commit acts of violence?

Father Time:
In the media?

Sex.

Violence in media will not make teenagers or adults violent. They know that if they actually become violent they risk getting into trouble or getting beat up over it, and those motivations are far more powerful than "I saw it on TV and it looked fun" will ever be.

Sex meanwhile is not illegal and you probably won't get beat up for it (unless you're into that) and humans have a natural sex drive. I don't think sex in the media actually does a lot of damage, but I'm no expert. My guess is that whatever it does is worse than what fake violence does which IMO is probably nothing (unless you get into torture porn or show it to small kids).

I'm speaking as a general rule of thumb. Maybe if you see someone solving the same problems you have by being aggressive and/or violent it might make someone consider it, but seeing for example Inglorious Basterds, in modern U.S./Germany won't change you at all.

So, violent media won't make you violent, but sex in media will want you to have sex before your time, or am I reading you wrong?

Realitycrash:

Father Time:
In the media?

Sex.

Violence in media will not make teenagers or adults violent. They know that if they actually become violent they risk getting into trouble or getting beat up over it, and those motivations are far more powerful than "I saw it on TV and it looked fun" will ever be.

Sex meanwhile is not illegal and you probably won't get beat up for it (unless you're into that) and humans have a natural sex drive. I don't think sex in the media actually does a lot of damage, but I'm no expert. My guess is that whatever it does is worse than what fake violence does which IMO is probably nothing (unless you get into torture porn or show it to small kids).

I'm speaking as a general rule of thumb. Maybe if you see someone solving the same problems you have by being aggressive and/or violent it might make someone consider it, but seeing for example Inglorious Basterds, in modern U.S./Germany won't change you at all.

So, violent media won't make you violent, but sex in media will want you to have sex before your time, or am I reading you wrong?

Watching sexual content does increase my sexual drive. Watching violence does not increase my "violence" drive. Competition seems to have a much bigger impact on ones willingness to commit violence than the media (looks at sports). Violence is much worse than sex, but people (seem) to be more susceptible to sexual content than violent ones.

Ryotknife:

Watching sexual content does increase my sexual drive. Watching violence does not increase my "violence" drive. Competition seems to have a much bigger impact on ones willingness to commit violence than the media (looks at sports). Violence is much worse than sex, but people (seem) to be more susceptible to sexual content than violent ones.

I'm not sure about that. Obviously sexual content can increase sex drive in the short term (arousal) but I'm not sure there's any correlation between exposure to sexual content and overall sex drive in the long term.
Sex drive is widely considered to be mostly as a result of hormones, the balances of which are linked to conditions in the womb and heritage (as far as I remember anyway).

That's why the Victorians were still notorious philanderers, despite the fact that sex wasn't something that could even be discussed openly.

And when it comes to violence, there is some suggestion that violent content can in the short term get people 'psyched up' for a fight, which is why it's been experimented as part of morale boosting exercises in the military (albeit with inconclusive results). That's not to say that there's any long term link, otherwise I'd be a raging psychopath.

Ryotknife:

Watching sexual content does increase my sexual drive. Watching violence does not increase my "violence" drive.

But some studies do suggest that violence has a cultural/copycat/desensitisation aspect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobo_doll_experiment

Overhead:
Without going into specifics, sex is better to display.

Although both can potentially be very negative, sexual content is the only one that can potentially be good and healthy.

While violence might not necessarily be evil(Someone killing a serial killer in self-defense) it is always at least regrettable because it would be better to solve conflicts through non-violent means. Better the two countries made peace then went to war, better the police convince someone to surrender than shoot them, better that the serial killer is arrested and taken into custody then killed themself, etc.

Violence is inherently wrong and something to be avoided even if it is acceptable or allowed under many circumstances. Sex and sexual content isn't.

Couldn't have put this better myself. Sex is by its nature an enjoyable act, violence is by its nature a necessary evil only to be used in order to stop a greater evil from occurring.

The sex-phobia in the US is a result from our Puritan roots. Remember, our country was founded on religious conservatives that were "too fanatic" even for England at the time. :D

Violent content gets my vote, simply because the portrayal of violence tends to be very sanitised in a manner that is almost appealing and minimzes the actual fallout of losing a fight (usually characters just get back up a few minutes later with a few groans and thats it) which gets impressionable people thinking they can replicate those feats where they are drunk or rowdy or in front of their friends or w/e.

Back in uni i had far too much trouble with young twats eager to start fights out of an inflated sense of their own invulnerability, imagining that "just" a fight doesnt leave anything worst then bruises so are keen on starting one.

Context is important, I think.

I think showing sexual content in a way which is sex-negative, which presents sex as shameful, which invites joy, arousal or amusement at the exploitation and humiliation of people or which implicitly presents other people as tools to facilitate sexual pleasure can be enormously socially destructive.

Media does shape attitudes, whether to sex or violence, but generally the person who watches lots of murder mysteries isn't going to start murdering people, the effect is far more likely to be that they worry more about being murdered, that they overestimate the level of crime in society around them. People don't generally copycat pieces of media, but they might pick up on the attitudes of characters or the subtext of what they're seeing and come to view those things as normal aspects of the world. This can include attitudes towards sex and violence, both of which can probably be quite destructive in the right circumstances.

I'd say that actually sexual content can probably be more insidious in terms of shaping our attitudes precisely because it's normally presented as good, enjoyable and attainable. When we watch violence, we normally know that violence is a bad thing. We may be indulging fantasies of righteous or justifiable violence, but it's generally an unattainable fantasy with little relevance to our lives.

Violence is worse, hands down. Fuck context. All I need to know about sex is that it's legal and consensual.
Violence sucks.

Johnny Novgorod:
Fuck context. All I need to know about sex is that it's legal and consensual.

Did you read the question?

What is 'worse' (causing negative stereotypes and bad social structures, unwanted connotations or similarly harmful effects upon the populace) to display in media, sexual content, or violent content?

In other words, the point is not "which is worse to happen to you/which would you least like to watch", the point is "which has the most damaging influence on society". It's a media effects argument.

And one thing we know about media effects is that direct behavioral influence is a myth. The idea that kids play GTA and then go out and jack cars or shoot each other because they can't distinguish fantasy and reality is bullshit, and everyone except Fox News knows that. What is conveyed through media effects is attitudes. Media shapes our preconceptions about what is "normal".

An action movie in which characters are blasting away at each other with machine guns is clearly not normal, because noone is going to mistake that for normal. Most of us know on some level what real violence is like, and that it bears little resemblance to most forms of media violence. The same isn't true of sex.

evilthecat:

Johnny Novgorod:
Fuck context. All I need to know about sex is that it's legal and consensual.

Did you read the question?

What is 'worse' (causing negative stereotypes and bad social structures, unwanted connotations or similarly harmful effects upon the populace) to display in media, sexual content, or violent content?

In other words, the point is not "which is worse to happen to you/which would you least like to watch", the point is "which has the most damaging influence on society". It's a media effects argument.

I stand by my statement. I think violence is more damaging than sex in the media.

Well I think we can all agree that having both of them in the same scene is bad, especially when it can traumatize a young boy so badly that he makes THIS-

-as the final boss of a game.

Violence, without question. While sexual content can be problematic, there is far more credible scientific evidence for possible negative effects of violent content than of sexual content.

Specter Von Baren:
Well I think we can all agree that having both of them in the same scene is bad, especially when it can traumatize a young boy so badly that he makes THIS-

-as the final boss of a game.

I have no idea what I'm looking at here.

Batou667:

Specter Von Baren:
Well I think we can all agree that having both of them in the same scene is bad, especially when it can traumatize a young boy so badly that he makes THIS-

-as the final boss of a game.

I have no idea what I'm looking at here.

That's a natural reaction. No one can grasp the true form of Giygas.

Just in general? Hard to say. As it has already been said, the reasoning behind it and context is quite important. How is the act being portrayed, and what viewpoint is the person watching "supposed" to take? That being said, violence itself is more damaging then sex, but sex in media is often not seen quite as...separated from reality as media violence typically is. For me, there really is no one answer.

Neither, since no consistent causality between a type of fictional content and real life harm has been established.

The sheer amount of action/horror movies/games consumed would've certainly made society incredibly violent, yet violent crimes have not exploded with the availibility of fictional violence. Similarly, endless amounts of hardcore porn a mere click away haven't caused any particular spike in sex crimes.

So the only thing harmed is the feelings of puritans who wished humans weren't so damn human. And that the media would (be forced to) cater to their political agenda, instead of being free to cater to the wishes of the majority.

Also... violent sexual content isn't a thing? Why choose, when you can have both[1]! Pretty sure no link to consumption of that and committing actual sexual violence has been established there either though. The only causal real life harm to come from such fiction is illiberal countries imprisoning people who view it.

[1] ...except if all that ridiculous babble about Lara Croft (as it turned out not) being put in a realistic situation appropriate for the setting is any indication, you can't ever have it in gaming. Toothless PG-13 scoured storytelling across the board.

We Americans are so fucking silly when it comes to sex. Wanna know the real litmus test of whether sex or violence is preferable? Ask if someone would rather find hardcore porn under their teen's bed, or graphic depictions of gore, violence, and suffering.

Now I don't think sex should be taken lightly, but for God's sake if you want to have sex, at least you're normal. If you crave violence (and I'm not talking rough competition, I mean REALLY hurt someone just for the sake of hurting them) it means you're a sociopath.

Maybe not damaging, but sexual content can cause people/society to change their habits. It can also effect what we expect from each other sexually. Take how porn has changed women's grooming habits down below. :P

People want to be desired and they want desirable things, and media tends to shape what we find desirable.

As always, context is important.

Well, I don't own a TV so I mostly only watch it when I visit the family. So I prefer violent content to sexual content as it is far less awkward all around.

Imperator_DK:
Neither, since no consistent causality between a type of fictional content and real life harm has been established.

Plenty of studies do in fact suggest that there may be a connection between violent media and aggression / violence in real life. See for instance this collection of meta-analyses.
http://evidencebasedliving.human.cornell.edu/2013/09/02/the-link-between-media-and-violence/

Now, if I assume you're even remotely aware of actual research (which I suspect is unduly charitable), you might be just angling that there is no certain, specific link. Whist this position has a degree of justification, it is rather less than the degree of contempt for current science that it entails: it risks being rather like arguing that smoking doesn't cause cancer because you can't tell exactly which cigarette did the damage.

Agema:

Imperator_DK:
Neither, since no consistent causality between a type of fictional content and real life harm has been established.

Plenty of studies do in fact suggest that there may be a connection between violent media and aggression / violence in real life. See for instance this collection of meta-analyses.
http://evidencebasedliving.human.cornell.edu/2013/09/02/the-link-between-media-and-violence/

Now, if I assume you're even remotely aware of actual research (which I suspect is unduly charitable), you might be just angling that there is no certain, specific link. Whist this position has a degree of justification, it is rather less than the degree of contempt for current science that it entails: it risks being rather like arguing that smoking doesn't cause cancer because you can't tell exactly which cigarette did the damage.

I only had time for a quick look, but the second one isn't what i would consider convincing: unless there has been a breakthrough in the design of such studies the studies they looked at either were correlation studies for negative/violent behavior and video game violence or experiments that studied only the short time effects of playing games on negative/violent behavior. While both kinds of studies offer some support for the theory of a longterm negative effect of video game violence (also one has to take into account the possible problem of studies without significant effects that just don't get published) and many scientists believe in such an effect, it is far from "proven" or scientific fact based on the given evidence.

Edit:

To show why i don't find the evidence for a link between virtual and real violence convincing here's the abstract for the third study as given on the website you linked to.

Consistent evidence that violent imagery in television, film and video, and computer games has substantial short-term effects on arousal, thoughts, and emotions, increasing the likelihood of aggressive or fearful behavior in children, especially boys. ... The evidence becomes inconsistent when considering older children and teenagers, and long-term outcomes for all ages.

Agema:

Imperator_DK:
Neither, since no consistent causality between a type of fictional content and real life harm has been established.

Plenty of studies do in fact suggest that there may be a connection between violent media and aggression / violence in real life. See for instance this collection of meta-analyses.
http://evidencebasedliving.human.cornell.edu/2013/09/02/the-link-between-media-and-violence/

Now, if I assume you're even remotely aware of actual research (which I suspect is unduly charitable), you might be just angling that there is no certain, specific link. Whist this position has a degree of justification, it is rather less than the degree of contempt for current science that it entails: it risks being rather like arguing that smoking doesn't cause cancer because you can't tell exactly which cigarette did the damage.

As condescending as ever, I see.

...As you can see I'm a bit out of shape, but I'll endeavour to make my slights as underhanded and textually integrated as yours in the future. Surprisingly, I've kinda missed this habitual exchange of slights. It's like coming back (to an embittered and dysfunctional) home.

***

Actually I'd be more concerned about confirmation bias, and things being kept in perspective.

Namely, whether fictitious violent imagery cause any more aggression than other everyday activities, such as playing a rugby match, or simply waiting in line for 1 hours to connect to a call center. My guess is that if the aggression they caused were as meticulously measured as is the case with TV, call center lines would be found to have quite a substantial effect on short term aggression as well.

So perhaps one should simply stick to the Lancet's conclusion that the evidence from correlation studies links media violence directly to crime is "weak". There's certainly nothing problematic in the emotion of aggression in and of itself, everyone experiences it every day. So it says nothing about a causal effect on real life violence. Of course, it's plausible that certain defective individuals, which deal poorly with aggression, might indeed commit violence due to it, no matter its source. So if there is any correlation to real life harm, the defect is with a few viewers, not the source material.

Nicotine, on the other hand, is provably and inherently a poisonous substance to any and all humans. Nothing of the sort can be said about fictitious violence and any human mind.

Though if that slightly moral panicky review here about GTA V's lack of the usual thin moral veneer to its protagonists genocidal exploits is to be believed, yet more raw data to bicker over will soon be available. I'll report back on whether I'm transformed into a hardened criminal with an insatiable lust for pedestrian blood by it. Or whether I'm in the vast majority of normal viewers/players, whose potential short term aggression spike doesn't ever equal to anything remotely harmful.

Imperator_DK:
As condescending as ever, I see.

Where it is merited, sure.

...As you can see I'm a bit out of shape, but I'll endeavour to make my slights as underhanded and textually integrated as yours in the future.

Underhanded is perhaps not the best adjective to use, given my criticism was fairly open and clear.

Actually I'd be more concerned about confirmation bias, and things being kept in perspective.

I am even more concerned by accusations of confirmation bias from people in a poor position to assess the rigour of scientific studies. Well, perhaps less concerned in terms of influence, given that random internet opinions hold relatively negligible weight. But more on that below...

Kept in perspective is a good argument. We can tolerate a lot of things that are damaging because any practical means of stopping them are more objectionable.. We can quite reasonably say that the influence of (some, most, etc.) media portrayals of negative things are sufficiently weak that it's not worth the constraint of artistic creation to block it, or otherwise well within the range of many other daily experiences. Most of the rest of your argument essentially rests on this line. You should have started with it.

Namely, whether fictitious violent imagery cause any more aggression than other everyday activities, such as playing a rugby match, or simply waiting in line for 1 hours to connect to a call center. My guess is that if the aggression they caused were as meticulously measured as is the case with TV, call center lines would be found to have quite a substantial effect on short term aggression as well.

So perhaps one should simply stick to the Lancet's conclusion that the evidence from correlation studies links media violence directly to crime is "weak". There's certainly nothing problematic in the emotion of aggression in and of itself, everyone experiences it every day. So it says nothing about a causal effect on real life violence. Of course, it's plausible that certain defective individuals, which deal poorly with aggression, might indeed commit violence due to it, no matter its source. So if there is any correlation to real life harm, the defect is with a few viewers, not the source material.

Whilst this is fair with respect to the argument above, it still does not justify claiming that there is no link between fictional violence and real violence as you did. I think also that you are certainly using a bucketload of confirmation bias to decide to draw the conclusions from the Lancet most pleasing to you.

The idea of "defective" individuals is also interesting, particularly given you have stated that aggression is a normal emotion. I really don't think there is some magic dichotomy between the defective and the non-defective here. It is possible to drive almost anyone to violence with the right stimuli; lots of very ordinary, peaceable people can have bad (enough) days. I do not think it is a useful way to view people, nor one in accordance with psychology.

Nicotine, on the other hand, is provably and inherently a poisonous substance to any and all humans. Nothing of the sort can be said about fictitious violence and any human mind.

As a scientific nitpick: lung cancer is chiefly the result of various other chemicals released by smoking. Nicotine itself is not particularly poisonous - or not significantly so compared to many other common drugs. Nicotine is of course toxic at high enough concentrations as most things are, but you're not going to reach those levels through any sort of normal exposure such as smoking.

Context. it all depends on context. If the sex is a rape and the violence is you defending the victim, of course sex is the worse one. this is an extreme situation of course, but context applies everywhere.

Sex and violence are a part of human nature and the media is what's helping us get rid of all this emotion that we're not allowed to vent. That's the reason both things are the most popular things to watch.

We -need- it.

If all of us humans did not have the outlet of media, you do not need to be an expert to think of the consequences of bottled up frustration and lust.

 

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