Eww! That’s Dirty! Our Ongoing Discomfort with Sex
Posted Sep 12 2008 3:31am
“Life in Lubbock, Texas, taught me two things: One is that God loves you and you’re going to burn in hell. The other is that sex is the most awful, filthy thing on earth and you should save it for someone you love.” Butch Hancock, Songwriter/Musician
I received the following email from a reader:
"I watched an old TV episode that really annoyed me because it used one of those tired old TV/movie premises about sex and pornography. They even called it a “syndrome” and mumbled some bogus name that sounded like “sex lag.” As portrayed on the show, a guy had become “addicted” to pornography and as a result couldn’t “get it up” with his girlfriend.
I think it would be a great service to people to dispel myths like this. Most people are so ill-informed about sex that they’ll believe just about anything they see in the media, especially when it’s introduced as “dirty,” “lurid” and especially “naughty.” *** Unfortunately, most of us still get our sex information from entertainment sources such as TV, movies and magazines. This just in: Sex is used to sell just about everything—and continually presenting sex as something sleazy keeps us interested, titillated and motivated to buy, buy, buy.
Am I OK, or Just Too Confused to Tell the Difference?
According to one study on sexual well-being released in May, more than half of Americans are unhappy with their sex lives. However, another survey reported that more than two out of three people are quite satisfied. So who are we to believe when it comes to sexual satisfaction? The simple answer is: no one. There’s simply not enough data regarding how sex contributes to our quality of life. Sure, you can find tons of research on what I call “the consequences of sex”: topics that people can wag their fingers at, like unwanted pregnancies, disease, etc. But where are the studies researching, for instance, sex and happiness. This should be a no-brainer!
Disease Yes; Happiness Not So Much
It’s obvious that sexual happiness actually contributes to our overall sense of satisfaction. Why can’t anyone get funding to investigate this, while there ALWAYS seems to be money available to study the relationship between violence and pornography? Because we’re still recovering from the 19th century attitude that sex should be for procreation, not pleasure, which is still perpetuated by various religious philosophies. And many of our physicians have just as much of a flat world mentality when it comes to sex. Have they helped us to understand and value our sexuality? Nope. No way. Nah. They’ll give out Viagra so the plumbing works, but please don’t make them address the underlying concerns that relate directly to your sexual well-being. Medical schools don’t even teach students how to take a sexual history, so doctors generally don’t ask sexual health questions because in addition to being ignorant, they’re too uncomfortable with the subject—hmmm, just like their patients. Because medicine has historically focused on cures for illnesses, sex is spoken of only when it presents itself as a “disease” or “disorder,” reinforcing the idea that it’s somehow harmful—even scary. Our schools are also constrained in what they can teach, but what can we expect when the current government pushes its rigid faith-based moral agenda that substitutes dogma for science?
The Big Lie
The truth is, Americans really do want to know about the pleasures of sex—numbers don’t lie; we consume huge amounts of sexual entertainment and products—we’re just not comfortable when it comes to owning the value of sex in our lives.
As long as we permit ourselves to refer to sex as “filthy,” “dirty,” and other negative terms, we’re reinforcing sexuality’s second-class status in our lives and leaving ourselves vulnerable to manipulation.
What would happen if we could find out more about the role sexual satisfaction plays in our productivity, our ability to love someone else, or our general welfare? The mind boggles. Why, we might actually get comfortable enough with the fact that we’re sexual beings and reach a stage where we can eventually integrate sex as a valued part of our existence.
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