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Thread: Sex in America

  1. #1
    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Sex in America

    Recently the CDC stated that one in four high school females has some sort of STD. They see images of sex on TV, small dolls wearing what could be considered provocative. The music that pays on the radio is all about ‘hooking up’ or putting cheating in a positive light.

    From the a mayor of Detroit, the a Governor of New York, a senator from Minnesota, to a former President (while in Office...) and many more elected officials, there are unlimited stories of sex scandals that are on both sides of the political divide.

    What is going on then we as a culture are becoming inundated with stories of how sex is destroying our culture? Kids are having sex and an earlier and earlier and adultery is becoming more and more prevalent. Marriages today statistically are more likely to fail than succeed. Oh, and sex is one of the most googled words… ever.

    Has it always been like this and I have not noticed? What are your thoughts about this sensitive topic? Do you think that the media is to blame ors should we thank them for bringing this to our attention? Do you think that this is further proof of a cultural degradation or do you think that it is just a sign of the times and that it’s not a big deal?
    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong, gives it a superficial appearance of being right, and raises at first a formidable outcry in defense of custom. Time makes more converts than reason." - Thomas Paine Common Sense.

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    Cyburbian tsc's avatar
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    I am in my 40s...and over the years I think this is nothing new. There have been sex scandals as long as I can remember. Kids have always been having sex and doing drugs...nothing new. I do think that TV shows more sex. I don't have any of the pay cable stations,,,but watched some cable TV...and it surprises me how much sex there is on TV. I also find TV has gotten much more graphic due to shows like CSI.
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  3. #3
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Has it always been like this and I have not noticed?
    Yes.
    Quote Originally posted by Michaelskis
    What are your thoughts about this sensitive topic?
    Entirely too much attention/significance is given to the subject.
    Quote Originally posted by Michaelskis
    Do you think that the media is to blame or should we thank them for bringing this to our attention?
    The media seeks out and provides the titilation because the the public craves/buys it.
    Quote Originally posted by Michaelskis
    Do you think that this is further proof of a cultural degradation or do you think that it is just a sign of the times and that it’s not a big deal?
    'Degradation' implies a change of state for the worse. The public has always enjoyed tales of amour and court intrigue in the circles of celebrity and power. The only difference now is that the gossip is conveyed via mass media now.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  4. #4
    Cyburbian TexanOkie's avatar
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    I think it's always been around and like it is, but in most of modern history (i.e. after the Middle Ages) it was largely kept behind closed doors, or at least not explicitly flaunted, until probably the 1950's and 1960's, and it has gotten better/worse through different popular culture movements since then with a substantial net increase in public awareness and, as Maister says, consumer demand.

  5. #5
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    I think it's always been around and like it is, but in most of modern history (i.e. after the Middle Ages) it was largely kept behind closed doors, or at least not explicitly flaunted, until probably the 1950's and 1960's, and it has gotten better/worse through different popular culture movements since then with a substantial net increase in public awareness and, as Maister says, consumer demand.
    And is the demand created by the powers to be, or does it elvolve do to socital (sic) circumstances? What are we comparing ourselves to, society a 100 years ago, 200, 50.
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  6. #6
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    It's nothing new. As far as the scandals go, they've just gotten more public as elected positions/powerful leaders aren't as untouchable as they used to be. Also, there are far more venues to access information--anyone can break a story, not just Brian Williams, Charles Gibson, Katie Couric, etc. We have websites like the Drudge Report and other blogs that can pop-up from nowhere with a story. No one is immune to scrutiny. Today, most people acknowledge the relationships of JFK. Back then, nobody would dare call the President out on something like that.

    The Internet has had a huge effect on access to sex-related information, some good and some questionable. For example, it has created easier venues for child predators, but it has also provided a new space for health professionals to get information out there on the dangers of unprotected sex, STDs, etc. The Internet truly is a double-edged sword.

    Teen sex is not a new thing. Both of my parents (both 60 now) knew several people that became unwed mothers/fathers or came down with a case of some STD. I think what has changed is the reporting of adultery and teen sex. I would also point out that while kids may be starting a bit younger (not sure I buy that), the percent of sexually active teens overall has remained steady or declined IIRC.

    It was not so long ago that the wife of a cheating husband would go weap quietly in a corner instead of filing for divorce. It was not so long ago that the wife would be blamed for not satisfying her husband, rather than someone questioning the husband's morals. Financially, husbands & wives can function easier post-divorce than in the past, so he/she is more likely to put the foot down and cut the cord.

    TV has gotten far more graphic than it was in the past, but it is just one of many venues. You should see the romance novels my Grandma read back in the 50s! There are many shows that I would not want my child to see because of their negative portrayal of sex. I'm not prudish, but I don't want my son/daughter thinking that sex is something to take lightly, or that it is a tool to convince somebody to love you.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  7. #7
    Cyburbian
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    There have always been sex and sex scandals, although one can probably make a good case there's considerably more pre-marital sex going on now than, say, a hundred years ago.

    On one side, getting married in your late teens (for women) was not unusual in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even during the 20th century, the average age at marriage was in the very low twenties. So-plenty of sex at more or less the same age for most people over the years.

    On the other hand, in the pre-prevention days, when there was no such thing as condoms or orther contraceptives, there was a very real incentive not to have sex before marriage for women. It certainly happened among some women, but at the same time I wouldn't be surprised if most women up through the 1950s got married a virgin, or had not slept with anyone other than their husband. Society clearly placed an emphasis on virginal brides and the notion of female respectability was closely tied to her sexual status.

    What has changed are the following:

    1. number of sexual partners has increased, exponentially.
    2. public acceptance of sex: it's everywhere you go, in the media, in literature, among your peers. The pressure is very real, whether overt or subconscious. This is tied to the changing images of the ideal body: was there ever a time in Western Civilization when our public media flaunted so many naked and near naked bodies? It's rather amusing to look at advertisements from even as recent as the 1960s that show people who look relatively normal rather than glamorous.
    3. the changing attitudes towards types of sex. Sex that would have been considered kinky or even taboo in the past (especially oral sex) are now rather commonplace.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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    I think puritanical america is growing up and we are going through our adolescence. Sex is just Sex. We have made it such a behind the doors, hush hush element of our lives and into such a big deal that it has gotten objectivied. Sex is not the problem its how we hold it as a culture that is the issue.
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian otterpop's avatar
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    One aspect of Americans and sex that often is overlooked is that our views on sex date back to the Victorian Days. We often call it puritanical, but it is actually Victorian.

    Keep this in mind: prior to about the 1900, the majority of Americans lived in very close quarters. In one room apartments in cities and log cabins and dog trots in rural areas. Children could hear momma and daddy doing what mommas and daddies do. That was their sex education.

    Prostitution was much more rampant. There were red light districts in every city and mining camp. Slaves and servant girls were the concubines of the well-to-do. Veneral diseases were every bit as common as they are now.

    Newspapers printed lurid stories of "soiled doves" and "men who done her wrong" Sanford White's murder, Fatty Arbuckle's trial, and Oscar Wilde's trial are just a few examples.

    The Roaring 20's was a time not unlike today and my grandmother was one of those flapper girls dancing the Charleston in a spangly shift dress sans her brassiere.

    Times are a little different now. Kids have less daily parental supervision. People seem to display less restraint in their everyday life.

    The news of rampant STDs is appalling. Given the availabilty of condoms, it points to a universal truth - that young people are kind of stupid. Always have been. A hundred years ago they would have been sent away to the country to get "the treatment" (heavy doses of mercury to kill the VD before the mercury killed them). Now they go to the free clinic and hope it is something that can be cured.

    The more it changes, the more it stays the same.
    "I am very good at reading women, but I get into trouble for using the Braille method."

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  10. #10
    Cyburbian Coragus's avatar
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    People have always had sex and there have been unfaithful couples since marriage was invented. What has changed is the access to information and the fact that every muggle with a cell phone has turned into an amateur cinematographer and/or photographer.

    The stuff gets to the internet, and suddenly millions of people get to find out. The media know this and regularly scour sites like youtube and myspace looking for these little nuggets. In effect, thousands of people are doing the footwork for the news.
    The cookies are worth the drive

  11. #11
    Cyburbian Michele Zone's avatar
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    Sex is always going to be a big deal. It's a very strong drive (supposedly second only to survival) yet it exposes you to serious risks (like potentially deadly or life-ruining disease and pregnancy). If it weren't a strong drive, a lot of people would not bother because of how very serious the consequences can be. I believe most taboos are society's way of trying to protect people from doing things that are so ruinous that you typically cannot recover from a single mistake. Evidence for this exists in the form of changing social attitudes about out-of-wedlock births since the introduction of welfare. Before welfare, it was so ruinous to have a child out of wedlock that there were strong taboos about it and very few people did so. After welfare, it became less and less taboo and the numbers of single mom's grew enormously. Other societal changes have also made it less ruinous to do the single mom thing, whether you started out married or not. I think that is a large part of why divorce rates are so high. People used to put up with crap they couldn't fix (like an alcoholic husband) because their survival depended upon them putting up with it.

    Some things have changed. When I was growing up, adults did not swear the way they do now. Divorce used to be viewed as a really shameful thing. Historically, it was also harder to get a divorce. "No fault" divorce was not nearly as common as it is now, if it existed at all. But condoms have been around quite a long time, a few hundred years IIRC.

    Some older rock star who had hepatitis (and I think got a liver transplant) because of his partying in his youth remarked that he came of age after (antibiotics and) birth control but before AIDS and that is why there was so much sexual freedom at that time. I think he's right. There was a brief time when there was a sense of invulnerability, of being able to neutralize the very real problems of STD's and pregnancy. When that illusion dissipated, so did the free-wheeling attitudes of the time. Yet, attitudes did not go back to what they were before then because antibiotics and birth control do ameliorate consequences.

  12. #12
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I like Otterpop's response to this. Great historical perspective.

    To continue in that vein, its interesting (to me at least) to note that the first widely published books for "the masses" in Europe were not scripture (we couldn't put the power of G_d's word in the hands of the people now, could we?) but romance novels full of stories of trysts and intrigue.

    Shakespeare is full of bawdy happenings.

    Onan made G_d angry by coveting his brother's wife.

    I think what has changed, though, is the sense of distinction about settings deemed "appropriate" or "inappropriate" for certain behaviors related to or suggestive of sex. This, I think, is fed by the pervasiveness of media everywhere in our lives. I am not suggesting that there was some Golden Age where people just "did it" in the bedroom and all was neat and tidy, but the expectation of such meant that people had a boundary to push when they wanted have a little "extra" fun.

    More and more, however, these boundaries seem to be unclear to most people and so sex, seduction and eroticism has permeated what I would consider "inappropriate" settings without anyone really caring or noticing. Witness the 12 year old girls with "cutie pie" or worse stamped across the butt of their shorts. Or teenagers dancing a little too provocatively in public. Which is not to say provocative dancing doesn't have its place, but for teenagers to think its ok to grind their rear into their boyfriend's crotch in front of adults seems to suggest that the idea of a "boundary" for certain behaviors has not really reached these kids.

    The other side of this is that as a society we are potentially more informed about and open in discussing sex and its associated perils (though with 1/4 of teenage girls with STDs, maybe this isn't the case...). Keeping all of this completely out of public view or discussion does not help matters either, and perpetuates a lot of mis-information. Personally, I think the abstinence-only programs also fail to provide accurate information about sex, but that's another discussion.

    Overall, I think society (and especially American society with its unique history and constant self-reinvention) ebbs and flows with regard to "traditional" and "progressive/permissive" attitudes on all kinds of topics. One can only rebel against something and push for a change in attitudes so long as there is something to react to. After a while, people tend to cycle back around to a more socially conservative position, and then it begins again.

    Its somewhat akin to musical trends. We had Big Band Jazz, then Bebop responded/reacted to that with a new and dynamic form that stood it on its head, then artists kept pushing the boundaries until the got to Free Jazz, where the rules were that "there were no rules." After a while, there was nowhere to go, the formlessness became overwhelming, and artists began to revisit and reinterpret the more classical forms in a neo-traditionalist bent and the cycle began again.
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  13. #13
    Cyburbian mgk920's avatar
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    And prior to the adoption of the movie code in the mid 1930s, Hollywood's output would have earned a steady string of 'NC-17s' in today's ratings climate, putting some of today's wildest 'R' fare to shame.

    And the reactions to it all by the self-righteous crowd was no different then than it is today, too.

    Mike

  14. #14
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by craines View post
    I think puritanical america is growing up and we are going through our adolescence. Sex is just Sex. We have made it such a behind the doors, hush hush element of our lives and into such a big deal that it has gotten objectivied. Sex is not the problem its how we hold it as a culture that is the issue.
    I agree. There is nothing wrong with sex. Personally, I'd much rather see sex on TV than the graphic violence that is prevelant. Why is it that there is an uproar when Janet's nipple appears but seeing a woman's bloodstained, bruised dead body on CSI not a big deal? What kind of message it that sending? Why do people not flinch at seeing images of lifeless Iraqi corpses on TV or in the paper? That's the greater tragedy than consenting parties having sex.



    Quote Originally posted by otterpop
    The news of rampant STDs is appalling. Given the availabilty of condoms, it points to a universal truth - that young people are kind of stupid. Always have been. A hundred years ago they would have been sent away to the country to get "the treatment" (heavy doses of mercury to kill the VD before the mercury killed them). Now they go to the free clinic and hope it is something that can be cured.
    What you mean teaching abstinence isn't working? UN-believeable. Whodda thunk? Why in the world would you want to teach a vulnerable population how to protect themselves? Sex education in schools? Why that's just immoral. If you talk about it they'll do it. Better to ignore it and it will go away.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian imaplanner's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    Kids are having sex and an earlier and earlier and adultery is becoming more and more prevalent.
    I don't think that's really true. I think its the opposite, but we are just more apt to find out about these things today.

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