How Sex In Media Has Changed Over The Years

A long time ago, the idea of sex on mainstream media is so offensive, to the point that married couples were depicted sleeping separately like in the Dick Van Dyke Show. Since then, our perception towards this matter changed a lot. We accept everything about it – from pre-marital sex to same-sex marriage.

However, in a few aspects such as pre-marital sex, we have really developed a little less accepting. It is according to a study from the Archives of Sexual Behaviour wherein they analyzed the data from a large sample of individuals in America mainly included in GSS (General Social Survey).

Take a look what they’ve found out;

Sex before marriage is more acceptable now.

During the early 70s, approximately 29% of Americans (23% of them are women and 35% are men) believed that it is alright to make love before their big day. They don’t see anything wrong with it at all.

After several years, this number increased to over 40%. This number didn’t change through the 90s. By 2000s, it grew to almost half (at roughly 49%). Then it hits 55% in the 2010s.

We have learned to accept the lesbian and gay sex.

Since 1970s, the percentage of people who accepted sex between lesbians and gay tripled. Most of the growth occurred from the young population. As a matter of fact, more than one in every five individuals whose age were 18 and 29 at that time stated that ‘banging’,  ‘boinking’ or any other similar terms, between individuals with the same gender wasn’t wrong.

The Censorship

Hollywood has a big contribution to censorship, to be more specific, William H. Hays, the CEO of Motion Picture Producers and Distributor of America.  Later on, it was altered to Motion Picture Association of America (1922-1945). In 1934, the censorship code was strictly imposed.  Through this, it prohibited the use of drugs, profanity, rape, and sex on the silver screen. Then in 1950s, this regulation weakens. After several years, Hays code was disregarded and replaced by a better film rating system PG, G, R, PG13, and NC17.


Later, a sitcom entitled Married with Children (1987 to 1997) demonstrated an understated advocate of sex. It was actually promoted all throughout the show without showing the real acts.

Have you seen How I Met Your Mother (2005 to 2014)? If yes, you know how it went beyond what Married with Children had. It employed sex outside marriage and unsuitable language and jokes on the show. Barney is the main character who never gets tired sleeping around and took pride in his so-called accomplishment. While the restriction is still there since they didn’t show the sexual acts, however, the scenes are almost provoking the thought of doing it as the characters are lying in bed.

Then, to signify our present time, let us talk about Empire. As it made its debut last 2015, the said show depicts a scandalous and lucrative side of the entertainment industry. It was filled with vulgarity, violence, drug, sex, and provocativeness, completely ignoring the code.

Due to the fact that the code was now out of the picture, sex can be easily seen then and now while in the past, it was restricted in the media. In other words, the media has evolved from being wholesome entertaining to explicit sensual. This is how sex in media changed through the years.

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