When I was younger, if you had asked me if love and sex go hand and hand, I would probably have said yes. Okay, actually I would have said “Probably, I’m not sure” but that was more because I was very cautious about how I presented myself in public, lest I out myself as someone not completely against the idea of spending a “nice” weekend with Matt Damon. From a young age, people are told through a lot of media and society that there is one way to live your life as far as love and sex, and that any deviation causes problems and unhappiness. Thankfully, not only is that not true but some media is starting to show that there are others ways of being and of loving.
Dear Mr Promiscuous,
I’ve been told that popular media portrays love and sex in a very unhealthy manner if one were to emulate their depictions. Is there anyone that gets it right in popular media? And what makes their depictions healthy compared to popular media?
The Tender Tentacle
Dear Triple T
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say I’m not entirely pleased with how love and sex are depicted in the media. While there has been a good amount of progress in representation, there are still problems with the media definition of love. For one thing, there are many types of love; what directors, producers, and most script writers usually mean is Romantic Love. The stories of True Love’s First Kiss and white picket fences and all those things you get told as a kid that you’ll want when your older. You hardly get to see depictions of Platonic love (a type of non-sexual love based on Plato’s talks about Eros from Symposium) and Familial love is delegated strictly to kids movies like Frozen. It’s limiting for media to mostly show Romantic or Erotic love while never really exploring stories about the other kinds. Thankfully, there HAVE been more recent works that not only show a multitude of love types, but a more realistic depiction of Romantic and Erotic love.
One recent example that shows realistic depictions of several different kinds of love is the show Steven Universe. For those who don’t know, Steven Universe is a cartoon about a kid with three caretakers that have magical powers. The show focuses on the relationships that Steven has with The Crystal Gems and the other people in his life. His father loves him and shows that by trying to be helpful and listening to Steven’s problems, even if he doesn’t entirely understand all the things Steven is going through. The Crystal Gems all support Steven in their own individual ways,ranging from advice to camaraderie to motherly support. And Steven himself is just bursting with emotion, empathy, and caring for everyone he meets.
What really sets it apart from other shows for a younger audience is that it’s much more willing to let people make mistakes. Sometimes people have a difficult time with love and assumptions are made. People have difficulties and strive to overcome them. Steven is allowed to cry, laugh, and love without the usual snide comments about how ‘boys don’t cry’ and the like that you would normally see. He is allowed to love in a myriad of ways and the show never says he’s wrong for trying to.
As far as something a little more serious and a LOT more into Erotic love, I love the work in Sunstone. It’s a comic drawn by Stjepan Šejić about people starting and navigating their BDSM relationship. What I feel strongest about it is that the love that the main characters have is grown organically. It’s not like they saw each other instantly and that was it. It wasn’t a comedy of hijinks where people lie to each other about what they may or may not like. It’s the honesty that the two show each other and their willingness to, after a lot of pain and work, still care for each other. Also it’s unbelievably hot.
Ultimately, what I think makes both of these depictions better than a lot of normal media is that their love is based on honesty and work and trust. People make mistakes, and that’s something you can recover from, but there is never an instant fix. It takes time and work from both sides, and that’s something that’s sorely missed from most media nowadays. It’s organic and messy, but just like real relationships, totally worth it.
Hopefully you find the love guides you need from these,