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If you suck on a tit the movie gets an R rating.  If you hack the tit off with an axe it will be PG.  ~Jack Nicholson

When I first encountered this quote I thought it was hilarious. I had a good chuckle. *Insert good chuckle*. But then I pondered it on a little longer, and a little longer. Why is that quote surprisingly funny (and slightly exaggerated or is it?) and true?

I had a friend in highschool who used to voice his dad’s opinion about the messed up system of rating movies and/or video games. Apparently he wouldn’t shield his son (as a growing child) from sexual scenes in movies where other parent’s might have. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t like they WERE watching R rated movies but if it was an M rated movie (I am using Australian movie ratings, I’m not sure if America is the same if we have American readers. I think Europe is the same? Ahh so many countries! M is a level up from PG, it recommends 15+) and there was both violence and sexual references the father saw no reason to shield the son from the sexual references. Some people may argue the sexist “father-son” argument but I was informed (and believe) it was otherwise.

Now that I have the moment to pay more attention to it, why is that the case? Why do children play violent games, parent’s buy them violent games (hell some of the best games I played in my childhood were violent) but things of the sexual nature are banned? Is it more appropiate to expose children to violence than sex in movies?

When I think of that question I first think “That’s wrong! Why would they choose violence over sex? If anything sex is part of life, they should be informed and educated about it whereas the violence children watch in movies is horrifying” but at the same time whenever I think of a movie or game that deals with sex to the same level games deal with violence I think of pornography. Sex doesn’t have to be that extreme of course but that is my first thought.

My parents used to cover my eyes when I was young (around the 10 year old mark) because they thought it was inappropriate if a sex scene arose in the movie. They never covered my eyes from the beatings, death or murder I witnessed in movies. The movies weren’t horror but they were action. I don’t think my parents were bad for doing what they did, nor alone in their actions or thoughts about what is appropriate for children. But, is that right?

If the sex displayed in the movie is not rape or “hardcore” but instead a movie scene where the characters make love then why are children still often shielded? I suppose  parents may fear that the child will raise many uncomfortable questions, they don’t want their children becoming sexually curious or confused? Ironically, I think that children, in particular adolescence, often know TOO little of sex.

Sure adults often complain about how children use profanities, talk about sex or use sexualised language to harass others but when it comes down to the details and facts about sex they are very much in the dark. They have only encountered these superficial experiences about what sex is by what they have been allowed to see or not see, or what they hear about it. Why are we often so embarrassed to discuss (gradually) it with children and teenagers? It is not like they are shielded from sex entirely, horrifically some children have to endure sexual encounters of which they are totally lost, confused and vulnerable because they don’t know what is happening or their rights. If you ask children about violence its often a totally different ball game. Many will argue it’s like talking about apples and oranges, and it is to some extent but I thought I would let my mind wander…

What do you think about shielding children from sex scenes but not the violent scenes within the same movie? When is it appropriate to expose children to sex in movies and so forth? Do children (adolescents) know TOO MUCH or TOO LITTLE about sex? What do you think? Can sex and violence in movies be compared?

– Ermisenda Alvarez