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Sex and Violence

Americans like to think of their country as being tolerant but in many ways, we aren’t. We are still puritanical at our core; other countries are far more enlightened and sensible in how they deal with certain moral issues, particularly when it comes to sex and violence.

Sex is one of those things that we all have in common. We are all here due to it. We all enjoy having it. We all love to talk about it. Still, we tend to think it distasteful. We waggle our fingers at it and say “for shame!” We attach stigmas to it, particularly on women.

Men for some reason are allowed to like sex and are even allowed to have it. Our dads teach us that part of being a man is getting laid. Our first sex is considered a rite of passage, part of the training needed to change from boy to man. We are supposed to like sex and pursue it with as wide a variety of conquests as possible. Men who don’t are considered to be effeminate and weak.

Women are another story. They are the fairer sex, the gentler sex. But the sex that likes sex? Heavens above!  Sex is supposed to be endured, used only to make babies and satisfy husbands. It is part of a wife’s duties, much like cleaning the house and cooking dinner is. It is not to be enjoyed. It is not even supposed to be discussed.

That Victorian characterization of a woman has persisted in our culture, even to this day. While women are far more liberated than they were 50 years ago, they are still shackled by the chains of perception. Their sexuality is still judged on the same double standard as it has always been; women who love sex are sluts and whores and are looked down upon, even by members of their own sex who should know better.

I don’t know what the deal is about that. It seems to me that women who love sex should be thought no worse than men who love sex, although it has to be admitted that there is a certain amount of disdain for guys who are overtly into sex. Horndogs, they’re called I believe.

Someone needs to explain this to me. Sex is a human function – we all do it. Shouldn’t we enjoy it? I mean, it is awfully pleasurable isn’t it? What’s wrong with enjoying something pleasurable? I’m not saying we should be copulating in the streets; I’m just saying that we shouldn’t get up in arms about it and so uptight. It’s only pleasure, isn’t it?

Pleasure is sort of against the American way. We are supposed to take pleasure from our work and our accomplishments. That’s the American way – sacrificing for a goal, giving up pleasures for the quiet gratification of success. Pleasure is hedonistic and should be avoided, or at the very least ignored. Hugh Hefner may not have been a visionary, but he recognized crap when he saw it. He celebrated the female form in a way not seen since Reubens. While the playmate has become a little bit airbrushed over the years, the ideal remains nonetheless; a beautiful woman celebrating her beauty rather than being afraid and ashamed of

We are a little frightened of sex and to be honest, it is kind of scary. It is wonderful and mysterious and frightening and amazing and painful and embarrassing and triumphant, all the emotions of humankind wrapped up in one physical action. We yearn for it, we dread it and we become obsessive of it. Sex is the car crash of human activity – we can’t keep our minds off of it and yet we do our best to set it aside out of sight, out of mind. It is also a means of control; we use it that way in our relationships and it has been used by Madison Avenue for eons. Sex sells, as the adage goes and it does sell, every day. We even use it to sell ourselves.

As terrified of sex as we are, we have embraced violence with a vengeance. Our movies and television show and video games are loaded with them. Turn on the evening news and it’s stories of mayhem and madness. We give our kids toy guns and videogames that involve shooting things and let ‘em have at it. Is it any wonder that they’ve started picking up real guns and started shooting up their schools?

Of course, that’s very simplistic – there are a lot of factors that have led to the increase in teen violence besides violent videogames and violent movies. After all, what could possibly be more violent than the average road runner cartoon – and those have been around for decades.

What is different is the way kids get to shoot guns at realistic targets, often people who are “bad guys” or “enemies.” Even monsters and cartoons; our children are getting desensitized. And even though I tend to be heavily opposed to censorship in any form, I wonder how a movies rating system can allow shooting and stabbing, beating and murder with a PG-13 rating and yet not allow love making under the same rating with the rationale that kids can’t handle that “mature” stuff – and yet they can handle all kinds of violence according to the same criteria.

Kids are highly imitative and susceptible to suggestion. So doesn’t it stand to reason that if we want to protect them from sexual behavior, we’d want to protect them from violent behavior as well? If they’re not mature to handle sex, it stands to reason they don’t have the maturity to make good decisions with weapons and in situations where the potential for violence exists.

I am an admitted pacifist and at the same time openly flirtatious. Make love not war might be a hippie slogan but I believe in the sentiment behind it. In a world where we seem hellbent on rewarding aggressive behavior, we might take a look at that slogan without snickering. I, for one, am tired of war, am tired of shooting and killing and fighting. Maybe it’s time to look at something higher within ourselves, something nobler and better.

Maybe we should be less hung up on sex and learn to embrace it. Maybe we should think of love as strength, rather than a weakness. Maybe we should look at our world and the people in it with thoughts of love, rather than wonder how we can profit from it. It seems to me what we’re doing now isn’t working – maybe it’s time to change. Makes sense to me, anyway.


One Response

  1. There is a big difference between sex and violence! Sex is (usually) done in private and violence is seen privately OR publicly. Americans enjoy the visualization of sex quite frequently: it’s called pornography. I don’t know that I want to watch copious sex scenes in a movie theater with a bunch of strangers. Violence is more of a shared experience. Sex is a private act. Is that really so unacceptable for our culture to make that distinction?

    I completely disagree that we are hung up on sex. It is simply a different, more personal experience, so why not hold it ‘close to the chest’??

    Just sayin’

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