When parents think about the pitfalls of popular culture for their kids, they usually focus on their younger children, the innocent ones for whom it gets harder every day to shield from an onslaught of sexual themes in everything on television and the radio, including the commercials. Throw in the Internet, and it's surround-sound sex.
Even things that some adults might see as relatively harmless -- models marching around in underwear in TV ads for Victoria's Secret, or Jessica Simpson tempting a teenage boy for Pizza Hut like she's a mozzarella-bearing Mary Kay LeTourneau -- are what others see as more proof of sexuality creeping into every crevice of the boob tube.
But parents should also worry about their children even as they leave for college, pulling their knees out from under the family table to navigate the world on their own. It's impossible for parents to keep up with the moral atmosphere of most American colleges and universities today. Oftentimes, the "collegiate culture" focuses less on majoring in English literature or theoretical physics and more on free-flowing beer and casual sex.
That was a theme of Tom Wolfe's recent novel "I Am Charlotte Simmons," which chronicled a not-so-fictional world in which a brazen campus transforms a bright-eyed Christian freshman girl fresh from the South. John Derbyshire of National Review saw Wolfe reporting on an "oppressive cult of coolness," and coarseness, a world in which God is dead and "the soul is of no importance or interest to these kids because their elders believe it does not exist -- one of Charlotte's lecturers tells her this in so many words."
The evidence is all around us, as college faculties press "transgressive" notions of sexuality, and students discover that the campus culture encourages them to turn their pursuit for recreational sexual conquests into an intellectual cause.
The Associated Press reported that Yale University held another bold experiment in "Sex Week," just as they did in 2004. The lecture halls were cleared to make room for a sales talk: "a middle-aged sex-toy saleswoman demonstrates her technique and hands out free products to an eager crowd." Sessions also included "a panel of porn stars and stripping lessons from a Playboy Channel hostess." No one asks much about how this educates rather than titillates. The student sponsors insist they were promoting "sexual awareness," not sex.