Why are sex, masturbation, and porn taboo?

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Why are sex, masturbation, and porn taboo?

Postby Peaches on April 6th, 2008, 1:51 am 

Surely, viewing porn is an urge most have indulged, and let he who has not masturbated cast the first stone. But is viewing porn an ethical practice? Conjointly, is masturbation natural? Why is masturbation received as a humiliating practice? On that note, why is nudity recieved negatively? Why is sex, on basic terms, regarded as a demeaning practice? Why is sex, even as a topic, recieved as taboo?

Perhaps I'm boundless in the sea of sexual restraints. I simply cannot see a logical reason to treat a natural practice as a transgression; I can't help but view "Everybody Poops" in the same dimension as "Everybody F**ks." I'm sorry, but I don't know how a process that our poor little bodies have been preparing us for since conception can be a bad thing.

Thoughts?
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Postby Paul Anthony on April 6th, 2008, 4:49 am 

Every society has its taboos. Sex in public is taboo, but so are other natural (but not very pretty) bodily functions. Would you really want it otherwise? Some things are best done in private.

It is amusing though, that some of the people who are opposed to abortion (the termination of life) are also uptight about sex (the creation of life). Logic has very little to do with it.
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Postby Forest_Dump on April 6th, 2008, 5:02 am 

These things are, without question, the result of contextual morality. "Our" modern ideas about prudishness most commonly come from Victorian England but do find support (independent reinforcement, if you will) from other conservative Judeo-Christian religious sects, including conservative Muslims and Jews. To be honest, I am not 100% sure why this sense of modesty or prudishness came about under the reign of Queen Victoria but we know that before this time, people were far more "loose".

Further, the "prohibition" against masturbation is generally derived from an interpretation and weighting of a Bible verse (can't remember the exact citation) about spilling your seed on barren ground. I have heard the odd person also rationalise the idea on the (silly) grounds that if you like it too much, you will be less inclined to want to go through the hassles of dating, etc. (I never said it made sense).
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Postby RidetheWalrus on April 6th, 2008, 6:34 am 

I have heard the odd person also rationalise the idea on the (silly) grounds that if you like it too much, you will be less inclined to want to go through the hassles of dating, etc.


Yes, I wouldn't have thought that the act could sire an aversion to relationships altogether but it can certainly be said that one can become too familiar with one's own touch. This can cause, how shall I say, "stage-fright" and other such sexual dysfunctions. But then, this strikes me as a comparatively modern phenomenon, probably confounded by the aforementioned prudishness of modern society.
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Re: Why are sex, masturbation, and porn taboo?

Postby darey on April 8th, 2008, 6:06 am 

Peaches wrote: Surely, viewing porn is an urge most have indulged, and let he who has not masturbated cast the first stone. But is viewing porn an ethical practice?


Any act could be an ethical or unethical act, if people want to make it one.

Peaches wrote: Conjointly, is masturbation natural?


I think you already answered that as a yes when you stated let he (or she) who has not masturbated cast the first stone.

Peaches wrote: Why is masturbation received as a humiliating practice? On that note, why is nudity recieved negatively? Why is sex, on basic terms, regarded as a demeaning practice? Why is sex, even as a topic, recieved as taboo?


Every view, thought, belief, etc., a person has is learned from past experiences, so how one recieves anything is depended solely on what one has previously gone through.

Peaches wrote: Perhaps I'm boundless in the sea of sexual restraints. I simply cannot see a logical reason to treat a natural practice as a transgression; I can't help but view "Everybody Poops" in the same dimension as "Everybody F**ks." I'm sorry, but I don't know how a process that our poor little bodies have been preparing us for since conception can be a bad thing.

Thoughts?


I also have yet to see how loosing bodily wastes or pro-creation is in anyway a bad thing. Maybe someone else could explain how they could be bad things.
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Postby darey on April 8th, 2008, 6:27 am 

Paul Anthony wrote:Every society has its taboos. Sex in public is taboo, but so are other natural (but not very pretty) bodily functions. Would you really want it otherwise? Some things are best done in private.


If you lived in a society where these things were not yet taboo, let alone if you were around before they were even regarded as a noticable issue, would you really care otherwise?

If you lived back then I don't think you would have the view that you have now, that they are not very pretty acts nor that these things are best done in private. I don't think you would have any other view other than the view of what they truly are, ie., a purely natural act.
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Postby Sisyphus on April 8th, 2008, 8:15 am 

Things that are taboo are more fun to do.
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Society & Taboos

Postby AKCHADA on April 9th, 2008, 5:01 pm 

[Every society has its taboos. Sex in public is taboo, but so are other natural (but not very pretty) bodily functions. Would you really want it otherwise? Some things are best done in private.]

As Paul rightly said,its all about people the way how they view it.For example there are countries that allow nudity in public and some do not.

It all depends on the society,how it views things and the Law of the Land

Thank you
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Postby Schmungles on April 10th, 2008, 1:43 am 

While the title "Everybody Poops" is cute enough that you could give it to a toddler, I doubt most parents would also want to give their toddler "Everybody F*cks."
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Postby stavrogin on April 11th, 2008, 8:29 pm 

In general, less developed philosophies (including religions) tend to outlaw anything that decreases one's obligation to that philosophy... quite simply masturbation is taboo because this represses sexual urges until it is useful to the church/society to be sexually active- that is under the remit of the church, to produce more devotees (after all, a child born out of wedlock may not be baptised to the 'right' religion). A person who masturbates gains knowledge... this after all is the greatest fear of such organisations.

Hinduism, far older than the monotheistic abrahamic religions, advocates masturbation and sexual frankness.

That said... I grew up in Catholic Ireland... so Im not comfortable talking about it!
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Postby neomatrixjc on April 12th, 2008, 12:45 am 

A society has its so called share attributes to it, and with in those set attributes lyes the likes, dislikes, and taboos. It is not meant that everyone will have the same likes, dislikes, and taboo. It is the individual views and beliefs that make one conform or not conform to society standards. In a sense it is ethical to condone the societal rules on the general principle of being welcomed in that society. People wish to be part of a society will usually keep their ideas about taboos to themselves.

Some people enjoy porn because it feels a need to them. the same can apply with sex and any other taboo. Plus general self made thoughts on the inquiry of a specified taboo, with the cause of worry and paranoia tend to make taboos worse than they are, but again it is what the majority of that society finds taboo, and what thoughts and inquisitions the people within that society make or have.
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Postby henriette on April 13th, 2008, 3:51 pm 

Why are sex, masturbation, and porn taboo?


Naked primates face easier propagation of infectious deseases than the more clever ones that dress their sex and haunches.
Can't the root of prudishness be considered basically an hygienic one on which dominants later took benefit?
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Postby Mark J on April 17th, 2008, 3:21 pm 

To be honest, I am not 100% sure why this sense of modesty or prudishness came about under the reign of Queen Victoria but we know that before this time, people were far more "loose".


I’ve read suggestions that the moral climatic of the Victorian period stems from the rise of the middle class, who are, I believe, generally the most prudish. This was something they could use to separate themselves from the lower class, “We’ve moved on, we don’t do that”. My own observations would tend to support this belief.
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Postby stavrogin on April 18th, 2008, 8:20 pm 

Morality of course is dictated downwards by the powerful- rebellion against the morality of the powerful then follows from the ground up- it never follows that the 'higher-ups' rebel against the morality of the slums. Victorian England was not as prude as many think, however in that case the prudish behaviour of Victoria became de riguer amongst her courtiers, which trickled downwards etc... fashions and morals were dictated by the rulers of England, just as they were in licentious Rome, or Versailles. There are many such instances of the fashions of the monarch becoming the fashion of the subjects. Where Victoria was prude and tight, the nation followed, and given that she ruled so long, that era became synonomous with repression... of course we know now a lot of the ruling classes visited opium dens and whorehouses at night, but where before such things as mistresses and courtiers and 'indulgences' were the right of people of their status, at this time the Queen discouraged it. Therefore it became 'shameful'.
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Postby Phalcon on April 20th, 2008, 6:13 pm 

I think that the root of it, at least partially, is hygene.
Unlike most animal species, we find our bodily extracts to be highly disgusting. We prefer to stay away from the bodily extracts of others. As a consequence, we like it when the organs that emit them are covered. These organs and the activities associated with them become taboo.
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Postby darey on April 20th, 2008, 7:39 pm 

Phalcon wrote:I think that the root of it, at least partially, is hygene.
Unlike most animal species, we find our bodily extracts to be highly disgusting. We prefer to stay away from the bodily extracts of others. As a consequence, we like it when the organs that emit them are covered. These organs and the activities associated with them become taboo.


You are answering for all human beings here when you say "we".

Do you really believe all human beings for all time found their bodily extracts to be highly disgusting?

I don't see how wanting to stay away from bodily extracts leads to wanting the organs that emit them to be covered. The mouth can emit the most "disgusting" bodily extracts but, except for a few religious outlets, no one wants to cover the mouth organ.

The ears and nose organs can also extract "disgusting" fluids, but then again I guess it all comes down to one's own perspective of disgusting doesn't it?

I think you are only truly able to answer for yourself and not for everyone here.
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Postby Phalcon on April 21st, 2008, 5:11 am 

Darey,

Certain attitudes are hard coded in our primitive brain and are not easily changed by a cultural context. One of them is foul smells. The extracts of ears and noses, as well as spit, do not smell offensively, while urine, feces, sperm and menstrual fluids do. It probably hints us that we should stay away from these extracts because they are especially infectious. I realise that some people might like the smell of them, but they are in minority. It is possible that prehistoric societies that didn't find them offensive were extinguished by desease. I'm not sure, this is just a hypothesis.

In many African cultures women do not cover their brest, but pretty much all cultures on earth cover their genitals and behinds.
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Postby Forest_Dump on April 21st, 2008, 5:35 am 

Sorry Phalcon but I would have to say that you might have it more the opposite. Even Europeans were not very hygienic until recently and eve that is variable. For example, until very recently, particularly big cities were know as dirty foul smelling places because people would just dump their "night soil" out into the streets, etc. One bath when you were born and one when you died was almost a rule. Greater concern over hygiene is, in fact, a very recent thing, partly due to the impacts of infectious diseases plus increases in science, and infrastructure investment in running water and sewer systems. The Greeks and Romans were examples of relatively early experiments in some of these areas but they didn't really last.
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Postby darey on April 21st, 2008, 5:55 am 

Phalcon wrote: Darey,

Certain attitudes are hard coded in our primitive brain and are not easily changed by a cultural context. One of them is foul smells. The extracts of ears and noses, as well as spit, do not smell offensively, while urine, feces, sperm and menstrual fluids do. It probably hints us that we should stay away from these extracts because they are especially infectious. I realise that some people might like the smell of them, but they are in minority.


Genital smells cannot be to foul nor offensive to hint us to stay away from them. If the purpose of their smells was to keep us away, then there would not be a population. Also, the use of using the mouth to stimulate the genitals of females and males may well also be on the increase. This type of sexual act may also be in the adult majority, and not the minority. Obviously the smell for these people performing it is not to offensive.

Phalcon wrote: It is possible that prehistoric societies that didn't find them offensive were extinguished by desease. I'm not sure, this is just a hypothesis..


That may be true, but it may be not. I don't think any other animal, nor group of animal, has wiped themselves out through sex.

Phalcon wrote: In many African cultures women do not cover their brest, but pretty much all cultures on earth cover their genitals and behinds.


As you suggested not all cultures do cover their genitals. Even today there are still cultures that don't. In fact there may have always been cultures who do not cover their genitals.

The cultures that do cover only their genitals may do it because they are walking and running through scrubland, not because of an offensive smell. The genitals, after all, are a pretty sensitive area of the body.
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Postby Phalcon on April 21st, 2008, 7:03 am 

Forest,

The thing with natural instincts is that we can always go aganist them. Living in big cities is a relatively recent development in the history of our species. There are advantages to it, like quick access to many services, while hygiene is sacrificed. Some taboos may have survived from earlier times when some forms of hygiene were instinctively practiced.

Another contributing factor is probably the institution of marriage and sexual rights which evolved around our natural breeding habits, so that instead of killing anyone who touches your wife you can cover her body to reduce temptation.
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Postby Phalcon on April 21st, 2008, 7:26 am 

Darey,

The smells are just a friendly warning. They are not obliging. We have more powerful instincts that will lead us to engage in sex. We find genitals repulsive and attractive, depending on the occasion. We classify activities that involve the genitals (and our body in general) to public, private and unnecessary ones. There's nothing wrong with that, life is not black and white.

Regarding abnormal sexual activities, which in some societies may become normal, I'm not sure they really correspond to natural instincts and not to our general curiousity and protest against taboos. The word 'natural' is often used to describe deviant forms of behavior and it isn't always justified.
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Postby Forest_Dump on April 21st, 2008, 8:10 am 

Phalcon

I think the point I was trying to make, that you are missing, is that you seem to be suggesting that you can tell what is "natural" or instinctive, etc., vs. not (i.e., what is specific to individual cultures). What I am saying is that I don't think you have any basis for those premises here. In fact, if anything, I would propose the opposite. A high degree of tolerance for natural body smells is probably more common (not to mention the possible role of pheromones). I would in fact say that our society is the oddity in the extent to which we try to remove or cover up natural body odors, etc. This is a relatively recent departure. I might even be inclined to point to the cliche of the "French bath" or the line from the Simpsons "Look at me, I'm as dirty as a Frenchman".

As to your note about prudishness, I think you are on to something there. In fact, there is a strong association between prudishness and a culture history, recent or remote, of patriarchal, polygamous and pastoralist societies. This certainly applies to the Judeo-Christian religions and we have inherited lots from there. But there are some interesting exceptions that are worth a closer look. There are many interesting case studies from all over the world about prominent displays of male and female genitalia in art and architecture (including Greek and Roman). One interesting example is a book called "Sheela-na-gigs" (by Barbara Freitag, 2004), a study of stone carvings of females exposing their genitals on medieval churches all over the British Isles.
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Postby Phalcon on April 21st, 2008, 8:48 am 

Forest,

I realise that it is hard to tell what is natural and instinctive. However I think there are some criteria that one may use. For example, smells are processed in a very deep and subconscious part of the brain, where culture doesn't penetrate easily. Sure you can suppress your instinctive reaction to a smell, you can learn to tolerate and even like a foul smell, but the initial instinct is there. It is known that bad smells are sometimes related to bacteria and diseases, so it isn't a baseless assumption to say that the initial repulsion by some smells is a natural and somewhat healthy instinct.

We have many conflicting instincts and we may emphasise some of them in some aspects of our life and culture and others in other aspects. Thus we may obsessively use perfume and mouthwash at day and have oral sex at night. Some cultural constructs may not be related to any natural instinct but are a consequence of a historical circumstances.
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Postby darey on April 21st, 2008, 5:31 pm 

Phalcon wrote: Some cultural constructs may not be related to any natural instinct but are a consequence of a historical circumstances.


This is exactly what the topic is about, ie; Why are sex, masturbation, and porn taboo?

The answer is these things are not taboo. They are perfectly normal human acts. It has been only humans that have made these acts "taboo". In fact you would not be here today discussing this without them, without the first one at least. Relatively speaking, and at a very rough guess, people only made these things "taboo" in maybe less than the last 2% of human's history.
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Postby Phalcon on April 21st, 2008, 6:05 pm 

I'm not sure you are right. Making sex taboo doesn't mean it is not being done at all. It only means that it is being done in private under some regulations, e.g. with a regular partner, after some marital cerimony involving some social obligations, etc. Restrictions on sexual activity, in one form or another, probably existed in most cultures for thousands if not tens of thousands of years. Some restrictions may be an evolutionary advantage, esp. in group selection.
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Postby darey on April 21st, 2008, 6:59 pm 

Of course it is still being done. That is my point. These three things are perfectly natural things, and they only became "taboo" when humans made them taboo.

I agree restrictions on sexual activity, in one form or another, probably existed in most cultures for thousands if not tens of thousands of years. I would suggest that was the exact same time these things became "taboo". It was the making of them "taboo" that created the restriction of them, and vice versa, the restriction of them made them supposedly more "taboo". Remember tens of thousands of years of being supposedly taboo things is a relatively minute period of time compared to humans million years of existence with them being absolutely normal and acceptable behaviors.
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Postby Phalcon on April 22nd, 2008, 3:28 am 

Our species exists for about 100K years. Sexual restrictions may have existed since then. Otherwise there must be some factor that made them appear, in all of humanity and I don't know what that could be. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that even some apes have sexual regulations.
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Postby darey on April 22nd, 2008, 4:05 am 

Phalcon wrote: Our species exists for about 100K years.


Is that all? So those human skeletons found in africa said to be I will say around, but I think over, 2 million years old are not real, or not human remains?

Phalcon wrote: Sexual restrictions may have existed since then. Otherwise there must be some factor that made them appear, in all of humanity and I don't know what that could be.


It is called evolution. 'Evolution' in the sense of change that is. Everything changes, that is how all things appear. At some stage through our evolutionary history it is far more likely there would not have been sexual restrictions, so if that is the case, then there is some factor that made them appear. Just like the degree of sexual restrictions is always changing so would have there been the change from non-sexual restriction to sexual restriction. But maybe, if you believe humans just "landed" on earth already in adult form, already clothed and covered up, then you may also believe nothing changes, including regulations on sexual practices and that sexual restrictions were always in place. When you are thinking about this do you look at it in a continual framework all the way back, or do you just look at it in a certain period of time framework and stop, or do you look at it in a fragmented framework?
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Postby Phalcon on April 22nd, 2008, 4:27 am 

Is that all? So those human skeletons found in africa said to be I will say around, but I think over, 2 million years old are not real, or not human remains?

They are not human. By human I mean Homo Sapiens.

It is called evolution. 'Evolution' in the sense of change that is. Everything changes, that is how all things appear. At some stage through our evolutionary history it is far more likely there would not have been sexual restrictions, so if that is the case, then there is some factor that made them appear. Just like the degree of sexual restrictions is always changing so would have there been the change from non-sexual restriction to sexual restriction.

Evolution transforms one species into another. If we're talking in the context of just our species then either the instinct for sexual restrictions existed from the beginning, or something made it appear, somehow, through all of humanity, regardless of geography, ethnicity etc. This would mean that every advanced civilisation must introduce sexual regulations and that those who didn't failed to become advanced and disappeared.
So the taboo is either built around a biological instinct of our species or is a necessary feature of advanced civilisation. Probably both are true.
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Postby Phalcon on April 22nd, 2008, 5:03 am 

Darey,

I wonder also what you think about homosexuality and incest (not to mention things like paedophilia and zoophilia). Do you approve of these as well, or are you also committed to some paradigm of sexual behavior?
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