What if...?

What might be the effect on children, of genital masking on TV?

   Each time genital masking or blurring occurs on TV there are likely to be some children observing. Consider a real (NZ) example: in a children's programme, a six-year-old stands up in the bath. The makers put the programme's (quite garish) logo over the boy's penis. A fair number of children see this. What if a proportion of them are 'tipped over' in terms of them now realising that 'this bit of me is not acceptable - it must be rejected'. Of those children negatively affected, how many might eventually commit an anti-social act, likely to have a sexual component?

   This speculation that a particular instance of masking could, in principle, be shown to be the cause of x-instances of anti-social acts in n-years, was presented to the broadcaster by way of formal complaint. Unsurprisingly, the response indicated considerable scepticism of the idea.

   The following proposal shows how this calculation can be done. Needless to say not all the required numbers are readily available, but maybe only two presumptions would need more academic research to resolve.

   The proposition is that one incidence of pixelation on TV may, statistically, produce about 1600 antisocial acts in about 15-25 years time, committed by about 100 of those affected.

   There are about 10 convictions for rape, per 100,000 of the population, at present. (Over the period since genital masking started in this country (1992), that figure has risen ten-fold.) Let's say there are about 8,000 rapes per year. Let's guess that the rates for child molestation may be 10 times that for rape, and 'illegal voyeurism' (eg: trespass, peeping, stalking, etc.) about 100 times that rate. Thus we have about 888,000 testosterone-based acts of harm per year to consider.

   The calculation details may well be an order of magnitude (or two!) out, either way; but that's not the point. The point is to show that the calculation can be done, in principle.

How or why can masking genitals have such an effect?

   Homo sapiens has become the only species to attempt to deny its developing young direct knowledge of its species' actual form. So we deny to our young that recognised biological necessity: 'imprinting'. Does this have consequences? Indeed! (Most of the effects for which there is data available have been listed elsewhere on these pages.) It has been shown in other species, that being imprinted to the wrong form produces permanent damage.

   The developing brain has an incremental need to identify its generic form. (I think about 3 - 6 times per year is okay.)

   Persistent denial attenuates that part of one's natural development, thus building an unmet need during childhood. (This need is not so great that it is seriously debilitating, that's why it is still not generally recognised as a problem.)

   Put simply: we have a biological need to know what other bodies actually look like, in full. To have one final part proscribed, inevitably focuses attention on the bit denied. The resulting curiosity is commonly recognised to be partially alleviated 'behind the bike shed'. A matter generally ignored by the population at large. (Why? Because it's actually understood by adults, if only subconsciously.)

   So: with a teen's basic human-form curiosity generally unsatisfied, he is hit with a dose of hormones.

   Testosterone is the activator: he is now primed for the post-adolescence 'addiction function' whose biological purpose is to addict him to those actions required to continue the species.

   But as a function, it can, potentially, be 'activated' by any response which satisfies any deep need: for example; seeing one's generic form (voyeurism); returning to a place of psychological loss, for repair of the psyche (child molestation); seeking God (maybe for expiation of guilt!); or (its presumed actual purpose) just sex.

   For reasons which are not particularly clear, but no less certain; having less than optimum self-esteem can cause all sorts of anti-social effects. One study indicates that denial of the body limits self-esteem to a quarter of what it would otherwise be. A completely different study indicates that males that are socially comfortable naked are a quarter to a third less aggressive than average. One may reasonably conclude that any proscription of innocent genital exposure results in quite anti-social effects, at best; and the results suggested here clearly indicate the viability, in principle; of calculating a rate of criminal offending originating from this method of "protecting" children.