Friday, January 4, 2013

On Sex: America's Love/Hate Obsession

THIS POST CONTAINS IMAGES OF NAKED PEOPLE. THE EASILY OFFENDED SHOULD TURN AWAY. THE MATURE SHOULD KEEP READING.




"In America sex is an obsession, in other parts of the world it is a fact." -- Marlene Dietrich

Americans are obsessed with sex.

It's on our televisions, in our movies, on the Internet, on billboards -- indeed, it is virtually anywhere and everywhere we turn our heads.

At the same time, Americans hate their sexuality. We don't like to talk about it, we don't like to hear about it, and god forbid we actually see an image of naked woman (naked men seem to be a little less offensive, for some reason). It's still a taboo subject.

A naked woman. Get over it.

It's a strange situation for sure. We can see "censored" Girls Gone Wild commercials and watch sexually explicit music videos, but if we actually see a nude breast, we flip out.

What is going on in America? What's up with this strange, unhealthy relationship we have with sex? When I lived in Europe, I saw images of naked people all the time, from the front pages of magazines (which were not pornographic in nature) to shows on television. Yet rarely did I see the kind of soft-core pornography and other sexually explicit stuff that saturates American culture. If I did, it was usually some American import, like a new Rihanna music video.



Make no mistake about it, we are obsessed with sex. It's not just the fact that we are literally surrounded by sexually suggestive images and videos (or that we love to hear about sex scandals), but the fact that 40 million Americans log on to porn sites every day (nine million of whom are addicted) proves that we constantly have sex on the mind.

But this is not just an obsession, it is a very unhealthy and damaging one, because it turns sex into something unnatural. We are as obsessed with this unnatural "junk sex" as much as we are addicted to our unnatural junk food.

Our unhealthy obsession with sex stems from our unhealthy repression of sex, which, in turn, stems from religious ideas about the evils of sex. America has always been a "religious" nation, yet we are plagued by hypocrisy. Christianity supposedly preaches love, yet we are possessed by racism, sexism, xenophobia, and other hateful demons. The repression of our sexuality has always been a part of the religious creed of this nation, yet the same people who decry sex as evil and dirty are the same people who have parents and children. Churches denounce sex, yet they encourage families to have children. Ironically, in some extreme cases, the people who preach "chastity" and "abstinence" are the ones participating in the most "unorthodox" forms of sex.

By repressing a natural, healthy human instinct and turning it into something dirty, we find ourselves in a state of cognitive dissonance. We are told that sex is bad, but we know that without it, we would cease to exist. Furthermore, we know that our lives would be a lot less pleasurable without sex. It just feels so damn good. Thus we are conflicted: we want sex, but we feel like it's bad that we want it.

This repression is the root of the "superficial, hedonistic, and promiscuous concept of sexuality" we currently possess. Rather than treat sex like a natural process of life (a "fact" of life, if you will), we have created a false image of what sex is. We have turned it into something impersonal, and, indeed, superficial, hedonistic, and promiscuous. We are ashamed of it, so we turn it into something that gives us a reason to be ashamed of it: sleazy images and videos that make it look downright cheap and nasty. If we were to take pride in sex, we wouldn't reduce it to pornography and promiscuity.

Now, I'm not knocking anyone's preference. Do whatever floats your boat. Sex does, after all, feel good, and it doesn't always have to be red roses and candlelight. And I definitely don't believe in "chastity." But why is it that we can't just see a naked body in a magazine instead of being exposed to porn-lite? It's like we're scared of the human side of sex, so we turn it into something sub-human. Why can't we look at sex like something beautiful instead of some back-alley hoedown where we succumb to our most base instincts?

We need to reevaluate our perception of sex.

First, we have to break away from the puritanical ideals we have about our sexuality. Sex is completely natural, and it is how we reproduce. But besides the mere biological aspect of it, sex feels good, and there is nothing wrong with pleasure (as long as one is able to control oneself). If we can come to these two realizations, maybe we can stop being ashamed of our sexuality. Maybe then we can stop hinting at sex all the time with our "birds and bees" and other ridiculous vocabulary and just say the words. Maybe then we can look at a naked woman in a magazine and not feel offended. Maybe then we can promote a healthy form of sexuality instead of one that makes sex something taboo and dirty.

Indeed, maybe then we can realize that sex is a fact of life.

A naked man. Get over it.

Think about it.

Peace.

3 comments:

  1. I notice that with your picture of a naked man, the penis is still obscured.

    Also, for comparison, how many people log on to sex sites a day in Britain? France? Germany? I'm curious to know what the relative percentages are.

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    1. John --

      Thanks for your comments.

      Yes, the penis is obscured. When I typed in "nude male" in Google images, this was one of the few pictures that I found to be done in "good taste."

      According to dailymail.co.uk and thesun.co.uk, 1.2 million Brits are addicted to porn:

      http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2012220/Porn-helpline-launched-UKs-1-2MILLION-addicts.html

      http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/features/4638096/how-porn-addiction-ruins-lives.html

      According to this German website, the number of porn-addicted Germans is about 1 million. The site has other good info, but it's all in German...not sure if you speak any German but if not, I'm sure you can translate the page:

      http://www.nacktetatsachen.at/home/statistiken.html

      Here is a good page dealing with porn addiction in Italy and other European nations:

      http://serogenix.com/tag/france/


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