At the risk of sounding prudish, I think sex is overrated. At least the way it’s portrayed in our sex-obsessed society. Don’t we realize we’re being sold a bill of goods? When we watch a car tooling through the mountains in a commercial, we know it bears no resemblance to our own driving experience of plodding over potholes. When we see a beer commercial, we know we’re not going to be transported to a tropical isle by popping a cap. So, why do we buy into this concept that sexualizing women is going to bring us happiness?

As someone who lived through the so-called sexual revolution, I’ve seen some bad fallout: promiscuity, divorce and terrible diseases. Sex without love doesn’t bring happiness but can result in heartache. But we are so bombarded with the glorification of casual sex; it’s tough to stay realistic.

Sex is used to sell every product imaginable and Hollywood uses it as shorthand for love. Most filmmakers lack the imagination and intelligence to portray an in-depth relationship. So, halfway through the flick they have the attractive leads hop into bed. The fact that the characters don’t know each other doesn’t prevent them from being suddenly locked in romance.

Of course, if the actors were ugly, they wouldn’t even be in the movie. Don’t ugly people find happiness? This focus on a person’s exterior is out of control. Unfortunately, this message from the media creeps into our everyday lives. We objectify women and fantasize about them. The sad fact is that even if we had a chance with that supermodel it would not bring us happiness.

Even though this glorification of sex is based on a lie, we can’t seem to look at women without ” wow, look at that! I know a young woman from Forest Park who jogs in River Forest to avoid the leering, honking and graphic remarks. I don’t know anyone, male or female, who enjoys unwanted attention. Yet, women are cruelly subjected to it on a daily basis.

It’s true that some women buy into the male fantasy with their attire ” we call them hootchie mamas. But most women I know would prefer being admired for their inner beauty.

It’s difficult for men not to get caught up in this false emphasis on sexuality. We tend to lose our moral compass in the southern hemisphere. But we need to start seeing women as people to be appreciated, not lusted after.

Objectifying women has already had a costly impact on Forest Park. We Forest Parkers paid money to settle sexual harassment claims involving the police department. But the price the women of our community pay can’t be measured in dollars. The twisted attention they receive is demeaning, confining and sometimes scary.

It’s understandable that young men might be more prone to inappropriate behavior toward women. As men get older they hopefully develop more than a skin-deep appreciation of women. My father gracefully aged to the point that he got upset about some attractive women who were blocking our view at a White Sox game. “If they stand up one more time,” he growled, “I’m calling security!” What a refreshing attitude, treating beautiful women as a public nuisance.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.