Has Hollywood totally messed up our sex lives?

It’s Hallowe’en, and so I thought it was a great day to devote Top 10 Tuesday to something that gives us the serious heebie-geebies: Hollywood. It’s a scary place! And it does scary things to our sex lives.

So I thought today we could look at 10 ways Hollywood warps our expectations about sex:

Hollywood and Sex: 10 Ways the Media impacts our expectations about sex in marriage! Let's recognize the lies about married sex and combat them with truth!

1. She Looks Like a Supermodel

Did you know that forensic scientists are always drop dead gorgeous? And they show up to work in heels and with a ton of mascara. I obviously chose the wrong profession.

Everybody in Hollywood looks perfect. You wouldn’t be in Hollywood if you didn’t look perfect! But look around at the people that you know in real life. We aren’t that beautiful a bunch. Most of us are just pretty normal.

What We Feel: It’s easy to think that you can’t be sexy if you have a tummy at all. Have you ever looked down at yourself post-baby and just thought, “I’m ugly now”? Most of us have, because most of us have tummies. That’s because we’re WOMEN. Hollywood tells us that flawless is sexy, and so it’s easy to believe that if we have flaws, we therefore aren’t sexy. And when we don’t feel sexy, we often shut down. Don’t let Hollywood shut you down! Hollywood’s not worth it. (Do we really want to give the world of alleged predators like Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Spacey power to make us feel not good enough?)

2. He Looks Like an Adonis

And it’s not just women. Every man in Hollywood has a six pack. And they don’t age, either! I remember when we were homeschooling watching the 60s movie To Kill a Mockingbird with my girls. It was awesome. Gregory Peck, who played Atticus Fitch, was 46 years old when he acted in it. And he looked pretty normal. We watched it in 2011, when Brad Pitt was 48. But Brad Pitt easily looked 15 years younger.

What we Feel: Men aren’t supposed to be distinguished anymore; they’re supposed to be sexy. That can warp how we see attraction to our husbands, too!

3. The Women Always Have Libidos Through the Roof

Women want sex. All the time. They want it just as much as men do. We have whole shows dedicated to this: Sex and the City, Jersey Shore.

What We Feel: Watch this long enough, and many women start to worry that they’re frigid. If you’re not panting and on the prowl, are you therefore undersexed? Nope. Most women’s desire and arousal doesn’t actually kick in until you’ve started to make love. While some women have really high sex drives, many women just don’t. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy making love anyway! If you throw yourself into it, and believe your body will follow, it likely will.

If, on the other hand, you believe Hollywood and you’re waiting until you’re completely turned on to have sex, you may be waiting a long time.

4. The Men Always Have Libidos Through the Roof

Men are sex obsessed. Every man is thinking about sex all the time. Whether it’s the nerds in The Big Bang Theory or the detectives in Law & Order, they’re all out to “get some”.

What We Feel: About 30% of women have the higher sex drive in their marriages. And if you’re that woman, it’s easy to figure, “I must be really, really undesirable.” Because every other guy is sex obsessed except for mine!

But what if it’s not true? What if not every guy IS sex obsessed? Then perhaps we wouldn’t feel so rejected. If your husband doesn’t want sex, you’re not alone! In the research I did for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that in about 25-30% of marriages the woman has the higher sex drive. I have a four-part series on dealing with husbands with low libidos that may help you.

5. Porn is Fun! (Not!)

When characters on sitcoms watch porn, it’s usually something to laugh about. Sometimes couples watch it together, in the hopes of getting aroused together. Or the guys watch porn on poker night. It’s just a natural part of life.

Covenant Eyes Husband Porn Ad - 10 Ways Hollywood Warps our Expectations about Sex
What We Feel: Then, when your husband watches porn and tells you “everybody does it”, you wonder, “am I a prude for thinking this is wrong?” And porn wrecks marriages. Porn isn’t harmless. It causes us to fantasize, to dissociate, to not be able to get aroused by a person but only an image. It causes people to turn to porn instead of each other, and soon takes away desire for your spouse almost entirely. It’s selfish. It’s evil. And it’s exploitative. A marriage will steadily go downhill if one or both partners watch porn.

If you want to get a handle on porn in your marriage, and protect your kids in the process, Covenant Eyes is a great resource. Use the code TLHV to get your first month free!

6. Marriage is Boring

Back in the 1990s my husband and I used to watch Friends. I thought Chandler was just hilarious. But one night, after a particularly raunchy episode, we realized we were essentially watching a show about people jumping into bed with one another. And we stopped.

In Hollywood, the hottest sex scenes usually occur the FIRST time a couple falls into bed. It’s that conquest that makes it so arousing. And so most shows revolve around winning a new person to go to bed with. Marriage, where you past that “first” time decades ago, is awfully boring.

What We Feel: Sex needs to be new, and fresh, and exciting! And marriage is the opposite of all of that. We start to feel like we’re missing out on something, and that all we have is the boring leftovers. The reason we’re not satisfied, we think, must be because we’re with the same partner who doesn’t know how to turn us on. In reality, though, the best sex is between married people–and not even newlyweds! In my research for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that the best years for sex in marriage were between years 16-20. So sex isn’t boring–practice is actually far sexier than conquests!

God made sex to be AWESOME!

GoodGirlsGuide1 - 10 Ways Hollywood Warps our Expectations about Sex
It’s supposed to be great physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Feel like something’s missing?

7. Sex is Best When You Play the Field

Sex is better with practice, says our media. You can’t expect to know what to do unless you practice with a bunch of people!

What We Feel: We won’t know if we’re sexually compatible unless we have sex before marriage. We forget that sex is also truly intimate, and it’s the intimacy that gives sex power. You don’t have to know how to please everyone in the world; you just have to study your spouse, and you can do that in marriage.

8. Sex Has No Repercussions

People drop into bed easily in movies and TV shows, and then the next day go on their merry way, treating the whole thing “like adults”. It doesn’t have to affect anything; it’s just a fun one-night stand. You don’t see broken hearts, or people who have trouble getting rid of sexual baggage from past relationships. You very rarely see people struggling with STDs. Sex is treated as a simple recreational activity–almost like you use each other as sex toys for your own enjoyment, with no commitment.

What We Feel: Many of us DO struggle with sexual baggage. We do struggle with jealousy over our husband’s past lovers. We expect sex to be easy, and we’re not prepared for the mind games and the guilt and shame that can come afterwards if we have sex with multiple partners. It’s sad, because our media is really cheapening sex and taking the power out of it.

How Hollywood Messes Up our View of Sex

9. Foreplay is Unnecessary

Most women require a LOT of foreplay to become aroused enough to enjoy making love. Many women require a lot of touching to even reach climax. But on the screen, people grope and kiss and within less than two minutes the clothes are off and the bodies are joined. No one ever gropes around to find just the right body parts to caress. No one ever has to ask, “is this the right place?” They automatically know, and everybody automatically feels amazing.

What We Feel: If simply ripping clothes off isn’t enough to arouse us, then we start to wonder if there’s something wrong. And we feel weird and uncomfortable asking our husbands for more foreplay, because it honestly looks like NO ONE ELSE NEEDS IT. We’re the freaks. And you start to think everyone else must be way more sexually responsive than you are, because two minutes of groping does nothing for you.

10. The Couple Always Reaches the Big “O” Simultaneously

No one ever struggles with making sex feel good. From the very first time (in movies like The Notebook), women experience absolute bliss. And the bliss is perfectly timed, too! There’s no “making sure she feels good” first. There’s no struggling with how to reach the Big “O” at all! It’s just absolutely easy and natural.

What We Feel: No wonder so many new brides feel like there’s something wrong with their bodies! Look, ladies: most women do not experience simultaneous orgasm. They don’t. That’s not to say it isn’t possible; it’s just that it’s not terribly common. And in my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, only about 60% of women “usually” or “always” experienced orgasm during intercourse at all. Most of the rest reached it some other way, and that’s perfectly fine.

It’s great to aim for the stars, and here’s a post that can help you do that. But you are not a freak if things don’t come easily!

I can think of tons of other unrealistic portrayals–no one ever has morning breath, no one ever goes to the bathroom afterwards, no one ever is freezing so they have to wear flannel.

But these ones about marriage being boring, porn being arousing, men wanting it all the time, and women responding easily and rapidly really distort how sex works for most people. And it distorts how God made sex to work! You were made so that your body takes longer to heat up. You were made so that in order for sex to feel good for both of you, you have to have a lot of communication. You have to know each other well. You have to be able to be vulnerable. And it isn’t automatic, and that’s perfectly okay.

It is not you that’s messed up when it comes to sex; it’s Hollywood!

So don’t take it as the baseline for what your sex life should be. And don’t worry what other people are experiencing, either! What matters is what you and your husband manage to work at together. If you’re happy, that’s great. And if you’re not happy, the answer likely isn’t to try to emulate Hollywood. It’s just to get to know yourself better, know your husband better, and understand how and why God created sex.

Oh, and by the way: RELAX!

Now let me know in the comments: Any other lies Hollywood says that we believe about sex? Let’s talk about it on this S-C-A-R-Y day!

SheilaSidebarAboutMe - 10 Ways Hollywood Warps our Expectations about Sex Sheila Wray Gregoire has been married for 27 years and happily married for 22! She loves traveling around North America with her hubby in their RV, giving her signature "Girl Talk" about sex and marriage. And she's written 8 books. About sex and marriage. See a theme here? Plus she knits. Even in line at the grocery store.
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