“Friend help friends have meaningless sex.”
It was a line from hit Fox sitcom New Girl, in which the main character, Jess (Zooey Deschanel), is struggling to use a guy for sex. As Jess confesses, it can be difficult for her to keep her emotions out of the picture when she is sexually involved with someone. As a result, her roommates decide to take her out on non-sexual group date so she feels emotionally stimulated enough to have “meaningless” sex later on. For the most part, the plan is a success, and Jess is able to have tons of sex with her hook-up partner as long as her emotional needs are met elsewhere.
Needless to say, despite the show’s constant comedic impact, by the show’s conclusion, I felt pretty sad. The show vividly represents our culture’s impression of sex, pornography and relationships. Immediate gratification, impulse, pleasure and individualism reign. So many of today’s young adults seem to have sex first and date later on. Blowjobs, girl-on-girl exhibitionism, co-ed group sleepovers, hot tub hookups, pornography and fantasy are the soup de jour in our popular culture. Sex is best glorified in the media when it’s performed as a mere act of insane pleasure, without consequences or context.
Meaningless sex so often seems like the goal on today’s programming and in the lives of many I work with. Teenage girls struggle to divorce their emotional desires from physical intimacy. Boys look up to the men they see portrayed in movies like American Pie and in shows like Gossip Girl; they think the more women they have sex with the better. Watching pornography, fantasizing 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week is a form of survival; “everyone does it”, as New Girl’s character Schmidt proclaims. Sex is no longer sacred, holy or set apart for relationship.
Is this the reality you want for your children? Do you want them to grow up believing that friends help friends have meaningless sex? If not, then it’s up to you to help them make sense of the mixed up world around them and the mixed up messages they are receiving everyday through TV, movies, their friends and the Internet. Many of the kids I work with watch shows like New Girl with their friends. They need you to set the record straight. Talk to them regularly about healthy sex. Help them understand the right context for sexual interaction. Help them to see that sex does have meaning, consequences and a proper place. Sexual intimacy was never meant to be divorced from emotional intimacy. Express that it’s your desire that they have friends who support them towards purity, not meaningless sex. Help your children understand concepts like accountability, discipline and reward. To help, I would strongly encourage you to check out our guide to having the talk, as well as a book that Craig and I wrote for volunteer youth leaders, that I believe is also incredible helpful to parents today.