Director, Commonwealth Policy Center
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The top grossing movie prior to Valentine’s was 50 Shades Freed. It was the final installment in the sex trilogy titillating audiences by the abuse of a young woman at the hands of a handsome billionaire. Movie reviews were harsh (because of poor plot, poor acting and technical details) but missing were condemnations of sordid story lines and twisted messages sent by Hollywood.

Perhaps Hollywood misses the irony that they see nothing wrong with their stories promoting the sexual abuse of women even as top level executives and producers are under investigation for perpetrating real life sexual abuse of women. Anastasia Steel may have eventually surrendered her sexual boundaries to her oppressor in 50 Shades Freed, but why should society surrender its moral boundaries to Hollywood messages promoting immorality?

The disconnect over healthy sexuality is not just affecting Hollywood; it’s affecting classrooms in at least one U.S. school district. Porn Literacy courses have been taught in Boston area public schools since 2016. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat reveals the impact that pornography and other explicit material is having on children in the digital age. The classes are aimed at helping students understand that porn, particularly hard-core abusive porn they’re being increasingly exposed to on the Internet, isn’t the way women should be treated.

The fallout from sexual debasement is being addressed by the 2018 Kentucky General Assembly. Consider a few bills: hotline for sexual harassment in the legislature (HB 9), fighting human trafficking (HB 152), stronger penalties for sexual crimes against minors (HB 101), handling of evidence regarding child porn (HB 120), and criminalizing revenge porn (HB 71). Interestingly, the bill receiving criticism is the one attempting to restore moral boundaries for healthy human sexuality. SB 71 requires that abstinence prior to marriage is the appropriate message taught to minors wherever public school sex-ed is taught.

To be clear, we’re not advocating that we go back to the days of the Scarlet Letter or remove all reference to sexuality from public discourse. In fact, we advocate just the opposite. Let’s be brave enough to talk about sex and teach our kids about it. But let’s talk about it the right way.

Let’s talk about how it is a good gift given to us by our Creator. Let’s talk about how it is the celebration of intimacy and commitment. And, let’s talk about how the potential for creating new life should bring even greater intimacy to a husband and wife.

When we think of sexuality in its right context we’ll see that women are highly valued and not treated merely as sexual objects. In a healthy marriage, the sexual relationship between a husband and wife brings security instead of shame, and respect instead of exploitation.

We call on Hollywood and other media influencers and leaders to realize that messages matter. And we’ll believe that Hollywood is serious about treating women with greater dignity as soon as the stories they tell about them reflect such dignity. Until then, let’s be careful that our entertainment dollars are consistent with our values.