What will take to change our society in order for sex and sexuality to be commonly and easily discussed without assigning labels or shame?
Preface: I think sex, sexuality, sensuality, pleasure, gender, love, relationships, etc. etc., are all interrelated. This question is not limited to any one aspect of sex or sexuality, or exclusive of any aspect thereof.
Some sub-questions to expand the main question:
On a personal level, how comfortable are you with discussing sex and sexuality? How were the topics of sex and sexuality regarded in the community of your childhood (family, school, neighborhood, church, etc.)?
Are (were) these topics open for discussion and held honorably, or are (were) they off limits and covered with shame?
Were there significant pieces of information unknown to you until adulthood, simply because no one in your community felt comfortable discussing sex and sexuality?
As for me, I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s. Primarily, I learned about sex/sexuality from my family, from the church, and from the neighborhood kids whose play often included sexual behavior. Sexuality meant “normal or abnormal.” There were behaviors and lifestyles viewed either as godly or immoral.
Godly behavior meant abstinence until marriage, and marriage was only between one man and one woman. Immoral sexuality covered everything outside the narrow Evangelical Christian viewpoint. Sexuality and gender roles went hand-in-hand; and “good women” only did A, B, and C—not X, Y, or Z.
The church was the community of my childhood. As far as I knew, people didn’t talk about masturbation, orgasms, or anything else that should be discussed privately between husband and wife. Sex and sexuality simply were off limits in “normal” conversation. If someone were to say anything, either the person would be viewed as over-sexed or perverted.
In reflecting on my background (including the information I’ve received from my parents), cultural and historical changes, and our current society, I’ve been wondering if sex and sexuality will ever be commonly and easily discussed. I wonder if general society will ever allow sexual freedom and purity to be regarded equally the same without labeling behaviors as perverted or shaming those who do not fit any narrow point-of-view.
Even with on-going changes in our society, it seems as if the ever-expanding topics of sex and sexuality will always be subjected to labels and shame. The consequences of which, among other things, lead to alienation of those who do not fit the “norm.” Case in point, the rise in suicides among LGBT youth. Would this be an issue if young people felt safe to discuss their sexuality among their peers, within their community? Even after the sexual revolution of the 60’s, fifty years after Stonewall, the proliferation and availability of information, the coming-out of various celebrities, legalization of same-sex marriage in some states and countries, changes in pop-culture, etc. etc., many young people who were born in the 90’s (when Ellen broke the closet door, Will & Grace strutted like a peacock on NBC, and red ribbons became fashionable) apparently do not feel welcomed in our society to experience or express one of the most basic aspects of being human – love.
What will it take to change our society so that being fully human will never be considered shameful?