This is the era of sex marketing. If you turn right, sex leaps into your face; if you turn left, sex jumps at you. In the street, in the shopping mall, in the church, in the office, on your computer and phone, and even in your living room, sex chases you around.
Sex – subtle or barefaced – has become all-pervasive in our society. Our society has become so sex-charged that the safety of our children is no longer guaranteed. Before, the rule was that during the children’s belt on TV, materials with adult content were not shown. These days, the only things that are not shown on our TV from morning to about 10 pm are commercials of alcoholic beverages. Any other thing goes. At such periods, TV stations are competing on which will show more Mexican soaps featuring deep kissing and erotic scenes every five minutes. Almost all the stations dedicate about two hours per day to music videos with bikini-clad girls dancing with men with lewd abandon.
Then there are the so-called Nigerian and Ghanaian home videos that are anything but homely. Even though many of these films are rated 16 or 18, they are shown on regular TV stations during the day when children are home watching TV. Even within early news bulletins when families are expected to be watching TV, film trailers with smooching scenes are advertised. What do you do? Ban your children from watching TV? That is not an option for me. The only thing within my power is that I have ensured that they do not watch any TV/video material that is rated over 13. But what do I do when these adult materials are slotted into family belts?
If I drive to the news vendor with my children in the car, there are pornography magazines littering the table that it becomes a crime taking children to such a place.
If I drive into a filling station or drop by the post office to check my mails, I am confronted by some men selling the local Viagra. The horrible thing about these men is that they flash their products with obscene pictures as you are parking. On one occasion at the car park at Ikeja General Post Office, Lagos, my children were in the car when one of these unscrupulous men flashed their sex-dripping packs at the car window, saying: ”Oga, man power!” I was so angry I felt like slapping him.
What one sees at social events is another story altogether because of the if-you’ve-got-it-flaunt-it policy that is in vogue. One does not complain because it is a free world. But the one that surprises one as inexplicable is seeing grandmothers in some churches trying to outdo teenage girls on who would flaunt a deeper cleavage.
Even the social networks are constantly attacked by sex hackers. A couple of times, Facebook was attacked with pornographic pictures littering everywhere. The network always reacted as fast as it can to cleanse its channel. But with such fears and also the possibility of some mindless people posting nude or semi-nude pictures, one has to be careful not to leave one’s laptop facing the children anytime one is on the social network.
Yahoo is not left out of the sex bait. In recent times, Yahoo has been showing adverts of girls with plunging neckline asking you to chat with them. Sometimes the picture of a girl pops up by your Yahoo home page asking to click on her and undress her. Such adverts confirmed to me that Facebook had eaten so deep into Yahoo’s business that Yahoo does not have any scruples about collecting all kinds of adverts. To check my emails on Yahoo, I have to turn my screen away from my children to avoid such pictures flashing in their face.
Then there are the hordes of bloggers who want to draw traffic to their sites so as to start making money from advertising. One common way they use for this is to post sensual adverts on the internet urging you to click and see what one celebrity did with another celebrity. Knowing the power of sex, they believe that with such a bait, people would click and be taken to their blogs, which have counters that record the number of visitors.
Also, any time I attend a children’s party like a birthday and children are told to dance, I always feel embarrassed at the type of erotic moves made by girls who are less than 10 years old. At one of such parties, a friend whose eight-year-old girl came first in the dancing competition was so shocked at the way her daughter wriggled her waist and backside that she vowed that she would not allow her watch music videos on TV anymore. The dancing of the little girl looked more like what a professional strip tease woman would do rather than what a girl of eight would do. The mother confessed that she had seen her daughter dance with her siblings and friends now and then but had never seen her dance in such an obscene way.
Furthermore, a contemporary novel that is not dripping with sex is “archaic.” I remember reading Half of a Yellow Sun of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie some years ago, and when my niece in secondary school saw me with it and asked me to give it to her after reading it, I told her stories for weeks, all in a bid not to let her have the book. I told myself that I would not be the one to give her a novel with so many love-making scenes. If she had to get such a book, let her get it herself, not through me. In the same vein, I heard of one of the rave-making novels of the world in recent years, which was described as a success story in self-publishing, and decided to read it: 50 Shades of Grey by E. L. James. I only read a few pages and stopped. Almost every other page featured raw sex, violent sex, animalistic sex. The “novel” is just an out-and-out pornographic book: the only thing missing in it are pictures! Sir Salman Rushdie said about the book: “I’ve never read anything so badly written that got published.” Many authorities have described its prose as low, yet the book has sold 90 million copies since 2011!
It is obvious that most people have realised that nothing sells like sex. They therefore exploit sex as sale bait: whatever negative consequence on society is not their business.
Nobody knows if the recent high rate of rape in our society has any connection with all these factors that have made our society sexually charged. Because we live in a free society, the dress code of people may not be determined by law, but the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission has the power to regulate what should be shown on TV when our children are awake and watching TV. Those who sell the local Viagra in packs decorated with glossy obscene pictures need to be arrested or chased out of public places.
Interestingly, any time one complains about the all-pervasive sex in our society, one is either told to close one’s eyes, or to stop being a hypocrite. But surprisingly, I have never seen any of these so-called non-hypocrites have sex in broad daylight by the roadside or in the market. Among human beings, sex is a private thing, done behind closed doors. Only animals have sex in the public.
An adult mind may not be adversely affected by sexually explicit materials, but exposing our children to such materials has a very negative impact on them. We must not fold our arms and wave it off as modernity.