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» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » Taboo

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Author Topic: Taboo
keoki_14
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Why is sex so taboo in the US? In Europe it's not, so my old French teacher told me.

What do you think would happen if sex wasn't so *hush, hush* in the US? What are your views? Why do you think it is taboo?

My view is that the people in the US have sex for pleasure purposes than for reproduction purposes.

I just don't know why sex got so taboo in the US? It's sex, not biggie!

Also, do you think that if sex wasn't taboo, the stats of STD's and pregnancy would go up?

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"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap."
--Carrie Snow

"A mistake is simply another way of doing things."
--Katharine Graham

The best website ever: www.evilrobots.com (I am related to the founder!)


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Lady Moonlight
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Well, the U.S. was founded by the Puritans, who believed that sex was inherently evil except for reproduction. However, that doesn't really explain all of it. I'm no sociologist, so I'm at a loss as to why we're so messed up about it. I mean, our media encourages sex at every turn, yet when somebody actually HAS sex or behaves in a sexual manner, folks freak out.

As for whether we'd see a rise in STD's and pregnancy if we were more open about sex as a society, I don't believe it for a minute. Studies have shown time and time again that when folks quit being hung up and instead become more open, sex education levels increase considerably, thus leading to much reduced rates of STD transmission and pregnancy.


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Heather
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Exactly.

Take a look sometime at the STD rates somewhere like Amsterdam, in which not only is sex accepted, but prostitution is legalized. Their low rates make us look like lepers.


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Ron
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Actually I don't think sex is taboo at all in the US. Sex is everywhere, on TV, in billboards, in movies, on the internet. People are always talking about it and thinking about it and dressing provocatively--you can't escape it anywhere. I'd say people in the US are pretty obsessed with sex.

What's taboo, maybe, is talking honestly about your sexuality.

[This message has been edited by Ron (edited 11-28-2000).]


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Confused boy
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I wouldnt say it was so cut and dry over whether the culture in Amsterdam is better than America. Ive been to Amsterdam and it looks really nice, not seedy at all as long as u stay out of the wrong area at night. However, I've seen on television programs that the city suffers from higher than average rape attacks (or was it media paranoia) and other crimes.
Ive also been to New York which was looks so cosmopolitan u could mistake it for a European city. To me that city seems to have things about right. On the other hand, I guess it is probably a different story in the Republican dominated Texas and other states like that. America has a very wide range of views of sex and that is gonna be hard to change as long as the people dont.
But if u think u have it hard there, take solace on how many double standards there r here in the UK. We have the largest number of cases of teenage pregnancies in Europe, which must almost by definition also lead to increase risk of STDs. Big problems in deciding how homosexuality should be talked about in schools. Does promoting the traditional family mean ure being homophobic etc..

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keoki_14
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I just don't get why the Puritans thought sex was so evil. And why do we still believe in that?

------------------
"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap."
--Carrie Snow

"A mistake is simply another way of doing things."
--Katharine Graham

The best website ever: www.evilrobots.com (I am related to the founder!)


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Lady Moonlight
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quote:
Originally posted by keoki_14:
I just don't get why the Puritans thought sex was so evil. And why do we still believe in that?


Miz Scarlet, you were the one who did the religious studies thing in college, can you explain it? To the best of my understanding, it's all Biblical, and the Puritans, like the fundamentalists of today, were folks who took the Bible very seriously, and very literally. Sex doesn't get a very good rap in the Bible, overall, and particularly in the Old Testament.


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Heather
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Oh, throw it all on me, why don't you.

From the comparative religions stuff I've done, overall (and Lady is right, some of what you're seeing is what came over here from the yUK, right on the happy lil' Mayflower), the Bible does give sex a bad rap, because essentially, sex is supposed to be soley for the purposes of procreation based in the Old Testament. If used solely for that purpose, it basically keeps people productive, keeps them wanting only their spouse, and keeps them creating more babies and generations (according to that dogma). Anything else, basically might lead people astray from their purpose on earth according to Biblical dogma which is, loosely put, to be fruitful and multiply by the big guy's rules. Any other ideas or sexual practices would be seen as derivative of the Fall of Adam and Eve. When they ate from the apple and realized they were naked it was that self-realization and then shame and modesty that was sinful.

But for a long time as well in numerous cultures, there has existed the notion that what separates the civilized and righteous man from the primitives and heathens is -- essentially -- repression, although some people would be more inclined to call that self-control. A lot of that is simplstic thinking that doesn't add up, but some of it is also reactionary -- for instance, the fall of Rome sent a very strong message to many countries, who did not want to suffer its ills, and saw hedonism as part of the real problem.

I think though, sex in and of itself isn't exactly taboo here, or really, anywhere for that matter. Instead, some sexual activities are in some circles and cultures, and some aren't, depending on the culture. BDSM, homosexuality, premarital sex, sex in which women derive pleasure, etc. Those things are really what are taboo in some cultures. But it does vary. For instance, in some cultures incest and polygamy are perfectly accepttable practices. Here they are not. In the Bible, matter of factly, incest isn't actually noted as a sin. Funny, really, since premarital sex is. It's an old book from a LONG time ago -- there are plenty of things in it that just don't make sense today or don't work today, so people tend to choose arbitrarily what they'll follow in it, if it is what they follow.

We don't "all still believe in that," in terms of notions of original sin and other aspects of sexual bias and taboo in biblical belief. Some of us -- and our families and original cultures -- never really did. Many people (myself included) think a lot of that is highly unhealthy. The notion of fecundity in partcular (of procreating and procreating) has caused a lot of harm -- our planet is grossly overpupulated, to the point of harming our environment, and harming the very people given birth to via malnutrition and neglect. As well, not allowing exploration of sexuality doesn't allow anyone to learn self-control -- repression isn't really control -- it's a control by default that is placed upon a person, not coming from within.

I think why you still see it now is based mostly in fear (of disease, or making God angry by disobeying his rules, of losing self-control by wanting something one feels one should not want). A lot of people are sure that if left to their own devices, everyone would not have any self-control and would be rooting around naked in the mud 24/7. That goes back to the whole notion of temptation and original sin.

Though those typical beliefs are not held by the majority of the world (the majority oif the globe is actually not judeo-christian), but they are very prevalent in the Americas and Europe.

I have no idea how clear that was, but I gave it my best. It's been a long day.

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Heather Corinna
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"If you're a bird, be an early early bird --
But if you're a worm, sleep late." - Shel Silverstein

[This message has been edited by Miz Scarlet (edited 11-29-2000).]


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Heather
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One more thing: in some places in Europe attitutdes are very different than they are here. Your teacher was making a BIG generalization.

In others, they aren't at all. Try Ireland for instance -- I'd say it's more intense when it comes to this stuff, hands down.


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pink
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To me, sex isn't a 'family discussion topic'. My parents raised me w/o giving me any true information about sex, I learned mostly from main stream media and friends. I've also learned a lot of information from this site.
So, it seems that the outside world doesn't see sex as taboo as my family does. But that can lead to 'it all depends on how people were raised'. A lot of my friends discuss sexuality and such with their parents, which totally shocks me.
As for pregnancy and such, I think education would be better about STD's and such, so pregnancy and STD rates would actually be down.

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Yeah, well I'VE got blood dripping out of a hole between my legs, do YOU?!?
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Confused boy
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Same with me and discussing sex with my parents. They dont particularly want to talk to me about it and i dont wanna talk to them. Tho my dad did say jokingly if i had ne questions I could put them to him in writing! When I have children of my own, Ill just point them to this site when they reach 13! Or atleastI hoape this site will still be around in decades time
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keoki_14
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I think I get it now. It's all because of the culture we live in and our influences. Right?

------------------
"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap."
--Carrie Snow

"A mistake is simply another way of doing things."
--Katharine Graham

The best website ever: www.evilrobots.com (I am related to the founder!)


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Heather
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On some level.

I think it's important though too, to recognize the difference between something which is taboo, and something which just isn't socially acceptable to talk about. The wrod "taboo" really means something which is an absolute and utter no-no. I'd say incest is taboo in our culture. I would say discussing or embracing sex publicly is just generally socially unacceptable.

And Confused Boy, I hope we're here in a decade, too. But I also hope that parents then realize that just passing on a website or a book isn't enough to develop a healthy sexual attitude or healthy sexual habits. Talking about it really is important, especially between parents and children. Nothing can substitute for that, and I hope you'll try and talk to your kids when you have them, as well as giving them material to support those discussions.


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Ron
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Culture is definitely a big factor in shaping our sexual mores, defining taboos and defining what is talked about and what is hidden. Sex is not taboo in our culture. It's perfectly alright to use sexually suggestive graphic material to sell cars,etc. Other things are frowned on in public and others are taboo (e.g. incest).

It's important not to see the subject of sex as isolated from the rest of our culture and society. It is related to things like power relations and social exclusion (ie discrimination).

In Mexico, where I live, which is similar in many ways to the US and different in others, we have the equivalent of the pro-lifers, called pro-vida. They are politically conservative people who oppose abortion but also oppose birth control and also espouse 'family values' that say a women should be in the home and subservient to the man. (Funny how all that goes together, huh?) I once asked in one city that is dominated by these conservatives, why they permit the local papers to print three or four pages of rather openly explicit ads for prostitution services ("professional escorts").

Why, I asked, didn't the moralistic pro-lifers object to these ads (some of them own the newspapers)? The answer, according to the 'escorts' themselves, is, those folks (the males) are their major customers!

Things that are 'hidden' (ie not talked about) are often things that show up the contradictions and hypocracy of dominant morality and also reveal the relations of power that are also often 'hidden'.

Well, as you might guess, I usually not invited into polite company!


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keoki_14
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I think socially unaccepted is a better way to put it. Taboo wasn't want I meant, I just couldn't think of anything else. That's a much better word. Thanks, Miz S.

I think I've got a better understading. Sex is socially unaccepted in certain places because of the culture and society. It's just the way things are. I think I have a better understanding. Thanks everyone!

------------------
"No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap."
--Carrie Snow

"A mistake is simply another way of doing things."
--Katharine Graham

The best website ever: www.evilrobots.com (I am related to the founder!)


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alaska
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Well, well, I reckon am a little late to have my say, but being European, I wanted to add my 2cents here as well....

While I agree that generally speaking, we people over here tend to be a little more liberal regarding Sex, there a HUGE differences regarding how socially acceptable Sex or perceiving humans as sexual beings is in the various European countries.

Let me give you an example: Sweden, Norway and Holland, for example, are pretty open countries, have excellent Sex Ed in schools (and, as I might add, some of the lowest teen pregnancy and STD rates in the world), have abortion rights and have legalised prostitotion while Ireland, as Miz S mentioned, is very conservative.
Over here in Germany, we're slowly getting to a pretty open and healthy view on sexuality and especially teen sexuality. Sex Ed is compulsory in school and in Germanys most famous daytime Teen TV show, a sexpert has a special every week on a different topic (like Anatomy, Virginity, Pregnancy, Oral Sex, Condom Use, Petting, GLBT and everything). They use normal language and you get to see pictures and they promote a healthy sexuality. Germanys biggest teen mag also features several pages on sex Ed every week. I reckon these days, most people think it's pretty normal that Teens are sexually active.
However, I agree with Miz S that within a society there are always cirlces and cultures which have their own values and regard other things as acceptable or unacceptable, so this is just how I perceive the culture in my country and it might not be very representative.

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