Social Question

girlofscience's avatar

How did the entire world get the wrong idea of sex?

Asked by girlofscience (7532points) June 6th, 2010

I am fascinated by the ridiculous amount of sexual repression that pervades almost all of society. The forbidden nature of sexual desires, the shame associated with sexual thoughts, and even the mere concept of modesty.

How did this begin? What caused humans to begin thinking about their bodies and sexualities as anything other than great, natural concepts?

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24 Answers

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

Personally, I think it was religion.

kenmc's avatar

@Rufus_T_Firefly said exactly what I was going to say.

girlofscience's avatar

@Rufus_T_Firefly: Okay…and how did the people creating religions get these wrong ideas of sex?

DeanV's avatar

@girlofscience Perhaps they weren’t the wrong ideas at the time of the creation of the religion.

Nullo's avatar

I think that they had the right idea (or perhaps a better idea), and that then presumably enlightened sorts like yourself went and wonked everything.

ChaosCross's avatar

When sex is taken out of the relativity of marriage, people began thinking such actions were wrong, and such humanity created “modesty” for themselves because living with sex out of marriage seemed shameful to them.

Sex is a fine thing, but one must understand that humanity will make their own concepts when something displeases them.

girlofscience's avatar

@dverhey: Huh? How were they ever not the wrong ideas?

kenmc's avatar

@girlofscience Controlling people was organized religions no. 1 goal. Brainwashing them into thinking that something that could possibly free them from Religious control is bad is what brought about the whole “sex is bad” thing.

girlofscience's avatar

@ChaosCross: Okay…so what displeased people that caused them to create these concepts? Why was “sex outside marriage” ever decided as bad? I mean, marriage is a randomly created institution too…

girlofscience's avatar

@boots: Thanks for actually getting somewhere… So making sex “bad” was used as a way to control people? Makes sense since it is such a critical part of life—an easy choice as a mechanism to control people.

Seaofclouds's avatar

The U.S. and Europe have different views of sex. I prefer Europe’s views.

DeanV's avatar

@dverhey I’m just saying that at the time of the establishing of those religions perhaps the ideas of sex now would be completely taboo to everyone at the time, leading to discontent.

I’m not agreeing with their ideas of sex, I’m just saying that perhaps when these religions were conceived pun intended, those ideas of sex were the social norm.

girlofscience's avatar

@dverhey: You’re not saying anything! I’m trying to get at WHY/HOW these things became “taboo” or the “social norm” in the first place!!!

jazmina88's avatar

i believe it started in sodom and gomorrah, where they went buck wild.

RocketSquid's avatar

I think a lot of it would probably have to do with STDs. They’ve been around as long as we have, but even with modern medicine, there really wasn’t any kind of protection until after World War II.

So, if you slept around, you’d probably get an STD, but people didn’t know why. If the gods are going to punish you for sex, where else than what you use for sex. If you stayed with your mate, and your mate was loyal as well, your chances of getting an STD would drop significantly. In an age when things where attributed to Gods and Magic, it was probably thought that the “immorality” of sex caused these things to happen as punishment, not the actual physical act transmitting the disease.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

I think it is short sighted to see any attitude as wrong. It is a point of view, and not an objectively wrong idea.

It probably came about from jealousy in love triangles etc. Humans naturally evolved a single partner disposition, much the same as many birds have, and any individuals that desired to go against this trend were seen as different. We all know how good humans are at oppressing people who are different. Jealousy over partners would have quickly led to open expression of sexuality being seen as unethical, illegal, and eventually evil.

girlofscience's avatar

@RocketSquid: Very insightful! This is certainly a possibility!

DrasticDreamer's avatar

It began when people first started realizing that we were different than other animals. If we were different than other animals, then the thinking probably went something like, “We shouldn’t act like animals, then”.

lillycoyote's avatar

If you look at it from sort of an anthropological perspective, human social and cultural norms serve an evolutionary purpose. For example, kinship structures and the institution of marriage. They serve a number of purposes that help maintain the stability of and order of a society or community. Marriage assures, among other things, that no matter who is having sex with whom, that someone is responsible for the offspring. That people are responsible to and for each other. Not one falls through the crack. Religion, from a functional point of view doesn’t make the rules, but serves as a mechanism for enforcing them.

Rufus_T_Firefly's avatar

@girlofscience – You’re asking me to explain religious taboos and prudish attitudes toward sex? Well, if I had to, I’d say they completely misinterpreted their bible in a myriad of ways, resulting in extremely repressed sexuality and overly-strict guidelines regarding displays of affection, nudity, explicit language, etc., etc. etc. The world is full of overly-religious prudes who are so ashamed of their own bodies and their own sexual desires that they feel a need to force other to adhere to their own narrow idea of morality and to prevent others from doing what should come naturally.

gemiwing's avatar

Another angle is property rights. Women were property and letting your property ‘get away from you’ or ‘impinge your honor’ was heady stuff. Men have been allowed to plow the fields for a long, long time. Women- not so much.

Enter the Victorian period. Now, sex isn’t just about women as property but about a ‘cleansing’ of the culture at the time. Sex was not always looked down upon- especially when a family of four would share a bed at night. It was a way for the Victorians to separate the ‘refined’ people from the ‘unclean’.

Eventually the ‘unclean’ wanted to be seen as clean- so they adapted. Our culture is swinging the other way slowly- a wound up yo-yo on a string. Give it another 1000 years and who knows where we’ll be?

gemiwing's avatar

A good essay on NSFW Sexuality and Modernity in Victorian times.

Lightlyseared's avatar

The Victorians. They were weird and unfortunately they had a pretty large empire so their weird ideas got every where.

tinyfaery's avatar

When taboos about nudity and sex are ignored, people tend to be happier and less likely to believe in things like sacrificing goats, giving tithe and such. When you are sexually satisfied the sexual escapades of others are not much of a concern, either. Puritans.

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