Sex positive vs sex negative cultures

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The morality operating within cultures causes sexuality and sexual activity to be viewed in different ways; some cultures view most sexual activity (in general) as positive, others view only certain forms of sexual activity more positively than others forms, while some cultures are, in general, quite sex negative. The culturally defined gender roles of the participants, and their physical gender (male vs female) determine to a large extent how much genuine "sexual tolerance" and "sexual freedom" is permitted to individuals within a culture.

From the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

Sex Negative, Sex Positive

This polarity owes its inception to Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957), who sought to synthesize Freud and Marx in a style acceptable to the leftist intelligentsia in Central Europe of the 1920s. The basic hypothesis is that some societies accept the inherent value of sexual expression and indeed insist on it as a prerequisite of mental health, while other human groups despise sexuality and are ceaselessly in­ventive in devising austerities and prohi­bitions as a means of social control.

Despite its seeming radicalism, the exaltation of "sex positivism" per­petuated the sentimental idealism of some eighteenth-century explorers and ethno­graphers who contrasted the supposed sexual paradise of the South Seas (for ex­ample, theTamoe of the Marquis de Sade's Aline et Valcour [1791]) with the ascetic regimes of pre-Enlightenment Europe, in which Catholic and Protestant vied in cul­tivating stringent codes of sexual moral­ity. In our own day, some homophile writ­ers such as Wainwright Churchill charac­teristically see ancient Greece as a "sex positive" culture because it tolerated and even fostered pederastic relation­ships among males of the upper classes. The situation of Greek women these writ­ers pass by in silence. Popular authors of books on "the sexual history of mankind" have reveled in depicting the joys of life in temporally and spatially remote but uninhibited societies where the burdens of chastity are unknown and sexual bliss is the lot of one and all. Such golden-age fantasies are part of the the discourse of utopianism.

In truth, all cultures regulate sexual behavior in one way or another. No human society allows its members, what­ever their age, sex, or social status, to interact sexually with one another with­out restriction. Indeed, there are not a few in which heterosexual intercourse, even with the full consent of the adult partici­pants, can be punished by ostracism, mutilation, or even death if it involves, say, a liaison between a male of a lower caste and a female of a higher one. Also, the concern with the legitimacy of one's offspring causes the sexual freedom of the nubile or married female to be severely restricted in nearly all cultures, as no society wants a horde of children with no assignable father deposited "on its door­step."

If the myth of complete sexual freedom, however appealing it may be to critics of Western sexual mores, is un­founded, what factors promoted its accep­tance? One is the greater licence accorded by many cultures to the foreigner - the tourist or anthropologist - for a variety of psychological and economic reasons, in­cluding the undeniable appeal of the ex­otic partner and the practical demand in tourist resorts for prostitutes and hustlers to serve the guests, even though similar behavior would not be tolerated in a native village fifteen miles away. Also, the availa­bility of teenaged partners to the foreigner may reflect only the circumstance that children are virtually forced into prostitu­tion by families for whom this form of exploitation is a lucrative source of in­come. Such a situation has nothing in common with the "sexual freedom" on which the leaders of the sexual reform movement liked to expatiate, it is rather a survival of slavery and feudalism in the Third World. Also, even if certain prac­tices are tolerated, the circle of persons who may engage in them without being repudiated by their families or punished by the civil authority is much narrower than Westerners - furnished with a for­eign passport and a source of income from outside the country - can ever be aware. Everywhere wealth and power do impart a degree of freedom to gratify one's sexual desires, including even those tabooed by the larger society, but this is not an egali­tarian right, it is a privilege of the elite in a hierarchical, class regime of the kind that the left would abolish if it could - at least in theory. The concrete practice of the states in the socialist bloc is another matter. Finally, many cultures have pu­berty rites that entail exceedingly painful practices such as circumcision, subincision, clitoridectomy ("female circumci­sion"), tattooing, mutilation, and the like - scarcely the Western ideal of an unin­hibited adolescence.

What probably forms a line of demarcation is whether asceticism ranks as an ideal of behavior for everyone, or only as a norm for those with a religious voca­tion that does not affect the rest of the community. Medieval Christianity did profess an ascetic ideal that would forever place homosexual activity outside the pale of morality, since it can never serve the end of procreation within lawful mar­riage, and all other forms of attachment were denied the right of sexual expression.

Other cultures have seen pleasure as a good in itself, quite apart from the procreative aspect, but the pursuit of pleasure, as in the case of the prostitute, could also entail becoming a social outcast with no prospects of conventional marriage. So the freedom of one was purchased at the price of another's degradation or servitude.

All these considerations reveal only how far modern Western civilization is from a solution to the "sexual problem," a solution that must take into account the risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases, the possibility of unwanted preg­nancy, and similar misfortunes. Even if a future society adopts a wholly positive attitude toward sexual pleasure, the need to shield both the individual and the col­lective from the negative consequences of unregulated sexual practice poses a prob­lem that cannot be wished away.

  • Warren Johansson

Sex positive/Sex negative as it relates to BoyLovers

Certain cultures tacitly consider many forms of male to male sexual expression positively, while male to female sexual expression may be subject to a number of restrictions. In addition, some cultures operate on a "don't ask, don't tell" basis - what occurs in private concerns only the actors involved, and receives tacit approval, while public expressions of opinion may be negative. This hypocrisy allows for the cultures to perpetuate certain myths about themselves and their morality. What is done in private may be subject to a different morality than what is discussed in public.

For example, homosexuality in much of the Western world has generally been seen in a negative light, and publicly condemned. But, in private, many otherwise "straight" (heterosexual) men would hesitate little or not at all when given the opportunity to be fellated (be "given a blow job") by another man. Boys, as well, may operate under the same presumptions -- the boy knows he is "straight," but "getting blow jobs" feels so good that he will seek them out (once he knows that it is possible to find men who will fellate him).

"Sex negative" BoyLovers (specifically, Virtuous Pedophiles generally respond very negatively and/or with total disbelief to the above comment about the sexual behavior of adolescent boys.

See also

External links

  • The online Encyclopedia of Homosexuality
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