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May 9, 2009

Protect the Children from Flaccid Penises

Here's our latest piece from SexGenderBody. If you missed the big announcement, SexGenderBody is a new collaborative blog on sex, gender, and body-related issues, and we've joined as feature writers. Go check it out!



Apparently there's a bill that has been reintroduced in Congress that will protect our fragile, delicate children from the horrors of old men talking about Viagra. Yes, the Families for ED Advertising Decency Act would ban advertisements related to erectile dysfunction from TV and radio during "daytime" hours (between 6am and 10pm). Obviously I have some mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, I am sick of seeing constant commercials about four hour erections (and it only seems fair to ban these ads if they're already pulling certain condom ads)
but are they really indecent? And are they any more indecent than a lot of other television that airs between 6am and 10 pm? More indecent than soap operas or reality shows like Rock of Love? More indecent than the O'Reilly Factor? (We know how much Bill O' loves Viagra!) And how about the many episodes of Law & Order or CSI that are on all day long that often contain some kind of violent rape? That is probably much more disturbing to children than a guy trying to throw a football through a tire swing.

Which brings us to another issue: the glaring sex/violence disconnect. All day long there are cop shows and forensics shows and medical shows depicting graphic violence, crime, and medical conditions.
In some cities re-runs of the Sopranos air as early as 9 am. Previews for gory horror films interrupt tween flicks on ABC Family. So where's all the legislation on that? (For the record - I'm not arguing whether or not there should actually be laws about that; just pointing out the double standard).

Why are we so horrified about exposing our kids to sexual content but are totally okay with desensitizing them to violent imagery? Oh no! Sex is sinful and dirty and bad! We must protect our children from the sex! Or really, we must protect them from trains going through tunnels and old dudes singing "Viva Viagra" since most of the E.D. commercials really aren't exactly what you'd call erotic.

And then of course there's the precedent that a decency law like this would set, opening up the potential for lots of other things to be deemed "indecent" or inappropriate for daytime hours.
That's one slippery slope I really don't want Congress to go down right now.

There are plenty of legitimate arguments for why erectile dysfunction drugs shouldn't be on TV but it has nothing to do with decency. I don't particularly think that prescription medications should be marketed directly to consumers through TV and radio, not just the ones that deal with flaccid penises. (The U.S. is one of the few countries that allows such advertising and the subject has come up in Congress a few times). And not to get into the dreaded X-Y debate, but do these members of Congress realize that the whole fucking country is falling apart? There are millions of children with no healthcare and the unemployment rate is at a terrifying point... who cares about Cialis commercials!? If an issue centers around panicking about sexual "morality" or "decency", chances are it's nothing but a distraction from any real healthy discussion or problem-solving.

The FCC can fine a station up to $325,000 for every violation of its indecency rules. Then they donate all of the money to ED research. No, they don't. (They totally do.)

1 comment:

Renee said...

I have thought about this since I heard about the potential ban. I can honestly say that what bothers me is how heteronormative and white these ads are. The other thing thing that I noticed is that the people portrayed in the ads are usually upper middle class. There are rarely to never poc and I have never seen cialis aimed at gay men. There are a lot of messages once you look past the flaccid penis. You would think that because these ads reify much of current discourse on race/class and gender that many would not mind them.