Culture

Hollywood, The Media, And Public Education Have Been Grooming Us For Years

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner
·  11 min read
Hollywood, The Media, And Public Education Have Been Grooming Us For Years

Breaking boundaries is the easiest way to get people talking. It “pushes the envelope,” creates a buzz, and is free advertising. But some boundaries exist for a reason. When it comes to sex and children, most of us agree that pedophilia is wrong and should always be against the law.

Unfortunately, the boundaries which were socially set to protect our children from sexual abuse keep getting pushed back. Whether this is for marketing purposes to try and “keep up with the times,” or is part of a greater agenda to normalize child molestation, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and even the public education system have been grooming us for years. 

What Is Grooming, Exactly?

Grooming is a concept that’s often talked about but not widely understood. It’s a term that gets thrown around a lot – much like social justice – but too often we don’t really stop to think about what it really means and how it connects to the modern era. 

Simply put, grooming is a slow process of gaining someone’s trust and manipulating them into accepting behaviors that they wouldn’t normally find acceptable. It’s a common tactic that allows abusers to convince their victims to not only allow abuse, but to believe it’s okay. It is how many predators take advantage of women and children, and why so many victims don’t go to the authorities until long after the abuse, if they ever seek help at all. 

Grooming manipulates people into accepting behaviors they wouldn’t normally find acceptable.

For decades, younger generations have been softened up to accept things they generally wouldn't in regards to what is acceptable sexual activity at younger and younger ages, and deep down we know it’s wrong. But it’s everywhere. Pop-culture is fixated on sex, and not just sex, but young sexual activity.  

Sexual Activity Has Been Normalized for Teens and Pre-Teens

In the ‘70s, sex was suddenly allowed in film. It was a new entertainment “breakthrough,” after the sexual revolution in the ‘60s. Suddenly, adults didn’t have to just daydream when they were lonely, they could watch other people getting it on. 

Then came the ‘80s. Movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Can't Buy Me Love, The Heavenly Kid, and Once Bitten each gained their own cult followings. Not only were they teen movies marketed specifically at teenagers, but they portrayed sex as normal and not a big deal. They were fun and fresh. 16-year-old boys everywhere related to the hunt to lose their virginity and laughed as sex was turned into a joke. 

The music industry agreed. Teen pop stars were suddenly the hot new thing. Record executives realized how much bank they could make on jailbait singers like Tiffany and Debbie Gibson. They followed the money, and the money was flowing from the hands of rich kids who wanted to act like adults, and their parents didn’t seem to notice or care. 

By the ‘90s, teenage sex graced prime time television. Beverly Hills 90210 was the first show to openly display this activity. Then came Dawson’s Creek and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy losing her virginity to a literal monster was a giant metaphor for what was to come. 

That ‘70s Show normalized teenagers getting on “the pill” in the first season. Episode 17 was all about being “responsible” to avoid “ruining your life” by getting pregnant. Who cares that the character Donna was still a virgin. Birth control is a billion-dollar industry, and the entertainment industry had to get in on that money. 

That ‘70s Show normalized teenagers getting on “the pill” in the first season. 

In 2003, the controversial movie Thirteen was released, which depicted 13-year-old girls acting like adults, having sex and doing drugs. It was a big deal at the time, but then came the British show Skins and MTV’s 16 and Pregnant (a reality show about 16-year-old mothers), and even Glee made sex seem like just another teenage behavior. We hit a point where underage female sexual activity was portrayed more often than legal, consenting sex

Pop music played along with these scenes and had its own part to play. If Madonna’s song about teenage pregnancy, “Papa Don’t Preach,” was jaw-dropping in the ‘80s, it was well overlooked in the ‘90s when girl groups like TLC wore condoms as accessories and 15-year-old Aaliyah released a song literally called “Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number.” No one questioned it when rumors surfaced that she married her producer (now known sex offender) R. Kelly and had it annulled. No one investigated the situation. 

Sex was cool. It was normal. Teenage pop stars like Christina Aguilera sang about being rubbed the right way and gave interviews about exploring their sexuality. Britney Spears’ virginity was a topic of conversation exploited by the media, and it sold like crazy when she basically told everyone she lost it.   

Starting in 2001, Bratz dolls have been marketed to little girls, but they make Barbie look like a quaker. In 2002, Abercrombie and Fitch released thongs for little girls with the phrases “eye candy” and “wink wink” printed on them, and in 2011, they sold a push-up bra bikini for 7-year-olds. Playboy has released children’s merch

Sexual Abuse and Confusion

No wonder everyone is so sexually confused nowadays. The floodgates weren’t just opened, a flood of mixed messaging has drowned us. Katy Perry and Ariana Grande sing songs about teenage sex and the literal feeling of being penetrated, and it’s just nothing. Teens are fair game, right? They’re going to do it anyway…

Except that nearly half of all high schoolers are still virgins, and up to 27% of men under 30 are. So is the entertainment industry and the media reflecting reality, or is it pandering to fantasies and encouraging virgins to believe there’s something wrong with them?  

The Jeffrey Epstein case and Ghislaine Maxwell trial are perfect examples of how grooming works to manipulate vulnerable teenagers. They didn’t abduct anyone, or violently force anyone into a hostage situation. They lured teenage girls slowly over time. And even after the public gained knowledge of this massive sex-trafficking ring, still no men have been convicted for their crimes because people are used to seeing teenagers sexualized. 

 Nearly half of all high schoolers are still virgins.

When most of us think of child sex trafficking, we fear for little kids 12 and under. Not a 14-year-old girl eating ice cream on a picnic bench at art camp. The boundaries have shifted. Teenagers are seen as adults in regard to sex. Now that that has been normalized and widely accepted, parents want their daughters on birth control pills. They give their teenage sons condoms and pat them on the back. 

Thanks to these barriers being broken, movies like Cuties are allowed to circulate on Netflix. Who cares if child sexual abuse is illegal? Pre-teen girls can be paraded around like pieces of meat and displayed for dirty old creeps in the name of free speech. 

In truth, the First Amendment doesn’t protect a person’s “right” to circulate illegal materials. Child pornography is illegal. But the definition of child porn is, again, dependent on perception. None of the pre-teens on screen were actually touched, but if the images from the movie were stills found on a grown man’s computer, would they be enough to convict a child predator? 

These are the issues parents, teens, and children are now facing. Technicalities that allow underage minors to be sexually exploited for entertainment, profit, and perversion. 

Teens Are Now Being Encouraged To Buy Sex Toys and Engage in Anal Sex

In 2009, Oprah featured a sex doctor who came on screen and encouraged parents to buy their underage daughters vibrators. She said it was good for girls as young as 10 years old. The reasons were stated as giving them the ability to pleasure themselves so that they wouldn’t seek sex from others. 

The audience seemed confused, but not upset because here was a doctor of medicine making these suggestions. She made it seem so normal and perfectly healthy for a 10 year old to masturbate. 

She was very adamant that no penetration was needed. Just external clitoral stimulation. Now that I’m a mother, I look at my daughters and think of what I wanted when I was 10 and I wonder: Do 10-year-old girls really need or want that? Is that really healthy, normal, or natural?

In 2009, Oprah featured a sex doctor who encouraged parents to buy their underage daughters vibrators. 

Regardless of anyone’s reservations, teen magazines followed suit. Teen Vogue has published articles on sex toys and anal sex. Seventeen magazine, which is aimed at a more specific, older teenage audience, is a little tamer, publishing articles about safe sex and what to do if a condom breaks. So much for advice on your first kiss, or what hairstyle to wear on your first date. That’s so three generations ago. 

Parents have been taught that it’s better to educate their children about sex than to be surprised when their daughter gets pregnant or their son ends up with an STI. There is some merit to this, as the right information can help minors make better decisions, but then parents were encouraged and even bullied into handing over these discussions to public education health classes and letting the department of education handle everything. 

The Public Education System Is Crossing Lines That Go Way Beyond Teaching Biology 

The department of education is not known to be highly trustworthy. They’re influenced by powerful teacher’s unions and government officials who often have their own agendas. I’m sure most health class teachers take their jobs very seriously and wish to help children, but their obsession with a quest to raise “awareness” and “educate” has become confused with indoctrination and normalization. 

Topics like “porn literacy” have been introduced into some curricula, while other schools are fighting to keep pornographic books in their libraries. The obsession with demonstrating sex for students isn’t new, it’s just expanding. In my high school health class, our teacher used Barbie and Ken dolls to display date rape and showed everyone how to put a condom on a banana. 

The department of education is influenced by teacher’s unions and government officials with their own agendas.

Underdeveloped minds learn by example. Whether a teacher wishes to warn underage students about dangers or not, the more they expose children to graphic depictions of sex and sexual materials, the more commonplace they become. And when something is common, it’s less shocking. Once the shock wears off, it’s shrugged off and more easily accepted. For decades now, we’ve been effectively groomed to see porn and sex as nothing special. Just another activity that people engage in, even with underage minors.  

The consequences of this are everywhere. Social media is full of porn, TV shows are glamorizing student/teacher romances, and hookup culture has left the younger generations of people feeling useless and alone. The family structure is being condemned, yet the single life doesn’t offer new adults much to look forward to except a career that can easily be lost during economic uncertainty. 

Closing Thoughts

The sexualization of children in Hollywood, the media, and even public school education has normalized underage sex. It’s no longer a concern for society, just a minor inconvenience. We’ve been groomed, and the boundaries continue to get pushed younger and younger. But it’s still sexual abuse, no matter how it’s portrayed. 

Parents have to take a stand and filter what our children are exposed to. It’s our job to be their guides through life, no matter what the entertainment industry, the media, or the public education system panders. It’s not easy, but there are options. We can raise our children with better entertainment. We can avoid media outlets that push destructive agendas. We can educate our children at home first, and even if parents are not able to homeschool or send their children to private school, we can join the PTA, run for school boards, and take an active role in fighting to protect the decency of childhood. We can’t sit back and just go along with further sexual grooming – lest the normalization of sex with children 12 and under becomes commonplace as well. 

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