I finally found a word I've needed for some time now.
It's a word I wanted whenever I saw pictures on Facebook of young females striking the same robotic sexualized pose.
It's a word I wanted when sampling prime time television programs and hearing male and female anatomy used as punch lines.
It's a word I couldn't put my finger on when I received press releases touting new books extolling the benefits of women exploring erotica.
The word is pornification.
I came across it in a newspaper article quoting a college professor. It's actually not a new word, it's been around awhile.
It is a perfect description of what has happened to our culture. We televise toddlers in full makeup with big hair and little stilettos, doing sexy dance routines competing for prizes.
Miss Colombia, in the Miss Universe pageant, had to be reprimanded by pageant officials for going without underwear at public appearances.
Nine-year-olds emulate Lady Gaga, singing along with her about being kidnapped, duct taped, and sold as a prostitute.
A friend who was substituting at an elementary school sent a female student to the office for inappropriate dress. The girl replied, "My mother says I can wear a top that is inappropriate or a bottom that is inappropriate, I just can't wear them both at the same time." Follow that logic.
And then there is the siren call of the Internet. The porn of today is so vicious and vile it makes a Playboy centerfold of the '60s look wholesome, the kind of girl you'd take home to Mom. Oh, wait, Mom may be a 50-something cougar posing in the buff herself these days. Seems like half the world (and much of Washington) is sending nude pictures of themselves via cell phones.
We've lost our partitions. We've lost the divide between appropriate and inappropriate, moral and immoral. We have obliterated the divide between childhood and adulthood. Fragile things like innocence, wonder and discovery are crashing like waves on the rocks.
What has all this pornification cost us? Debauched stereotypes, a loss of childhood, a growing number of males who can only be satisfied in front of a computer, females who mimic hookers, violence and degradation passing as fun and entertainment.
There's no turning back, but we can be intentional about moving forward. We need to introduce some new elements into conversation, things like genuine self-respect, dignity, gentleness and kindness. We need to grow backbones and speak up when something is inappropriate or crosses the line.
We need to create environments where people matter, relationships have more depth than "friend me," and face-to-face contact is more standard fare.
We need to build families where people are actually home once in awhile, the screens aren't always on and where interesting things happen.
Sound like a field of dreams? It's not. If you build it, they will come.