In my last blog we looked at the difference between sex and sexuality. Today, I wanted to share more about the varying views of sexuality in our culture.
For people raised in Western culture, sexuality begins and thrives with fear, then becomes enhanced by misinformation, shame and embarrassment. There is also significant misunderstanding, enhanced by lack of accurate education about sex/sexuality and much of what we learn emerges from a negative, fear-based approach.
It Starts At Home
Many adolescents grow up in homes with parents who do not talk about sex or sexuality. Additionally, they don’t exhibit positive or healthy role-modeling which forces adolescents to rely upon educational facilities who teach abstinence-only, or the Internet. American children are only taught about body parts and reproduction with no mention of pleasure, excitement, arousal, or how to interact with a partner both emotionally and physically regarding sex. Parents, although uncomfortable discussing this subject with their children, many times strictly limit the amount and type of information the school systems are allowed to share and instruct. This then sets the stage for how Americans view sex, from a very young age.
Try and Try Again- A Mixed Message
In Western culture it is an acceptable form of thought that, in order to excel at an activity that there is a need to practice; whether it is sports, driving a car, cooking, playing a musical instrument, or any technical skill. Yet, many in this same demographic suggest that if a person practices their sexual skills they are a pervert, over-sexed, an addict, a slut or in need of counseling or a therapist. This shame permeates people’s souls and greatly affects the way they interact with those they eventually form meaningful relationships and want to share their sexuality.
Religion’s Role in How Americans View Sex
While some people place the blame solely on religion, the shame is perpetuated by a large part of society that does not necessarily include people who are religious. The sexual shame, embarrassment, and inhibition are rampant not because of religion but rather the judgment inflicted upon people in order to control the actions of society. With a large segment of the population believing that this negative attitude about sex and sexuality is “normal” they are lulled into a false belief that all people share the same belief system. However this is not true.
The European View of Sex
Many people who were raised in European countries have a very different attitude about the subject viewing it as a natural part of life, nothing to get overly concerned about. Anthropologists show us that historically, there have been many cultures whose views regarding sex and sexuality more closely mirrored current European beliefs rather than those of the United States. Societies in which women have lots of autonomy and authority tend to be decidedly male-friendly, relaxed, tolerant, and plenty sexy.
“If you’re a man and unhappy at the amount of sexual opportunity in your life, don’t blame women! Instead, make sure they have equal access to power, wealth, and status, then watch what happens.”
Of course, there are also cultures around the world with even more negative and repressive sexual attitudes especially when it comes to women and sexual minorities such as gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals.
Since there are many cultures with differing views and beliefs about sex and sexuality from very positive and open, to very negative and repressive, why should we even care how the beliefs and attitudes in how Americans view sex? What affect do they have on us and those we care about? In the blog series that follows, we will examine the ramifications.
My blog will be addressing the wide expanse of sex and sexuality and the many variety of topics that come up in connection with it. If you have questions, I invite you to ask. I look forward to exploring healthy sexuality together!