These factors affect how men and women interact with each other both at the start of and throughout romantic relationships.
In the modern world, romantic relationships are vastly different from what they once were. Cultural changes have impacted young lovers just as they have impacted so many other facets of life. Cultural changes which began in the 1960s (Williams) have, over the last few decades, significantly altered the way we live and think. Western society has become increasingly sexually permissive; young people are constantly bombarded with sexual imagery in advertising, television, film, and other entertainment media. The traditional romantic relationship which begins with dating, followed by marriage, sex, and children has turned into something very different. In the modern world casual sex is increasingly common and acceptable; having a sexual relationship does not automatically lead to marriage-it is no longer safe to assume that a couple who have sex will marry or even enter into a relationship.
Religion is an influential factor in determining whether or not individuals have sex with one or more partners before marrying; interestingly a religious upbringing is more likely to impact upon women than on men in terms of whether or not they are sexually active before marrying. In the film "Raising Victor Vargas" (Sollett), the family has come from a Catholic background. Victor's grandmother is very religious, but this has had little impact on Victor's personal life-his peer relationships are much more influential. Victor and best friend Harold have similar attitudes towards women. They both see sexual activity as a way of increasing their importance in the neighborhood and enhancing their reputations with their peers.
In the very first scene, Victor is portrayed as a sexual person, attempting to seduce "Fat Donna"-he is licking his lips and flexing his muscles, using his body as a tool for seduction. Like most teens, however, Victor is less a Romeo than he is a boy taking his first unsure steps in the adult world of sexual relationships. He has also made a mistake in choosing his target-"Fat Donna" is considered unattractive, and his seduction attempts only earn him the ridicule of his peers. After this encounter, Victor is determined to repair his reputation by setting his sights on the neighborhood beauty, Judy.
Judy appears to come from a religious background just as Victor does-she wears the same type of gold cross worn by Victor's grandmother and brother. Unlike Victor, she does not feel the need to enhance her reputation by becoming sexually active; she has an almost opposite view. She sees boys as "dogs", as something that she does not need, and is only irritated by the neighborhood boys who fall at her feet. Judy has resolved to pretend she already has a boyfriend, so that she will not be bothered by other boys. Victor and Judy clearly have very different perceptions of love, sex, and relationships. To Victor they are tools to increase his standing with his peers, whereas Judy has no use for them.
"The Things they Carried" (O'Brien) takes place against the background of the Vietnam War-not only the new age of Woodstock, hippie culture, and sex, drugs, and rock & roll, but also a politically turbulent era. First Lieutenant Jimmy Cross, a young man of this era, has probably been influenced by these cultural changes. As a young