So after doing the reading for class today (“History of Sex” by Michel Foucalt) it got me thinking about the varying views on sex the society I live in has. For the sake of argument, I’ll label the main views that I’ve noticed as “conservative”, “liberal”, and “balls-to-the-wall” (a heavily scientific, Latin term). These labels don’t correspond with politics or religion or anything like that, I’m just using them for the sake of convenience. The views as they correspond to me start small (as in the group of people I hang out with, my family, my classmates) and can expand somewhat to my city, state, and even my side of the country. They can still apply on a larger scale, but need to be watered down somewhat as I obviously do not have much knowledge of how the societies of, say, Papua New Guinea view sex. I’m also leaving out sexual preferences (i.e. fetishes and LGBT, etc.)
For the conservative view, it seems that sex is an acknowledged and pleasurable activity, but one that is not often spoken of directly and somewhat embarrassing. It isn’t really a shameful activity anymore, just one that isn’t openly or brazenly discussed. It’s recreational but really only after marriage. Relationships are monogamous and again, usually only consummated after getting married. Sex shouldn’t be “on display” as much as it is, not nearly as omnipresent.
For the liberal view, sex is openly talked about with very few areas of subtlety. Relationships are usually monogamous but often are not. People have multiple partners and there is no shame or embarrassment involved. Sex is very much a recreational activity and marriage is not a requirement even after settling with one partner. Images of sex don’t generally faze anyone and are more regularly accepted and disseminated.
For the balls-to-the-wall view, sex is completely open and all over the place. Rather than shame or embarrassment, there is pride and an anything-goes mentality almost. Multiple partners are the norm and monogamy is almost looked down on – marriage is almost considering restrictive and arcane. Sex is fully recreational and non-restrictive. Images of sexuality in all media are fully embraced.
These are certainly not tried and true and are heavily unscientific, but moreso just trends that I’ve noticed. Even as I’ve grown up I’ve noticed that there’s overlap and that each view has progressively incorporated and expanded new areas. The media has certainly become even more over-saturated with sex and with promiscuity. It’s in music, television, books, films, clothing, advertising – it’s permeated everything. It’s possible that I’ve noticed it more simply because I’ve gotten older and naturally have become more aware, but I get the feeling that when I’m middle aged I’ll feel that it’s become even more saturated. I’m sure this is not an exclusive phenomenon as some of our parents have surely noted.