When Does Being Sexually Uptight Change into Harmful?


Is the US the world’s most uptight nation relating to intercourse? Possibly not probably the most, however actually amongst them. For instance, the US has extra legal guidelines regulating sexual conduct than all European nations mixed. US prudishness is so extreme as to be lethal. To finish sexual violence and harassment towards girls, one thing has to vary.

Is America the World’s Most Uptight Nation When It Involves Intercourse?

Lower than half of women and boys within the US have obtained the HPV vaccinations that may defend them from lethal cancers. Why? As a result of HPV is a sexually transmitted an infection (STI), and discussing teen sexual exercise is taboo. Many docs refuse to advocate the vaccine as a result of they’re uncomfortable discussing STIs.

Associated to this prudishness is the view that ladies’s our bodies are purely sexual and due to this fact all feminine nudity is provocative and shameful. Even public breastfeeding makes most People uncomfortable as a result of a lady’s breast is uncovered.

This prudishness about girls’s our bodies claims to be “defending” girls. At its coronary heart, nevertheless, it’s about energy quite than intercourse. The “safety” it gives is each seductive and insidious. Seductive, as a result of many ladies discover it comforting to think about that males are defending them from hazard, even strangers akin to legislators—insidious in its implications.

Whom will we defend? Youngsters and adults who’re too younger, inexperienced, weak, or incompetent to guard themselves. Placing a traditional grownup girl into this class disempowers her, making certain that another person can dictate probably the most intimate situations of her life: how she clothes, the place she will go alone, whether or not she has last authority over her personal physique.

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Prudishness additionally justifies a perceived division between “good” and “unhealthy” girls. The previous are modest, compliant and “lined up.” The latter, daring, proud, and unbiased. That separation buttresses males’s sense that they will deal with “unhealthy” girls badly. As a result of the ladies are “on the market,” they are often objectified, attacked, harassed, groped. The result’s evident, because the tidal wave of sexual violence and harassment reviews continues to develop.

Regardless of broad recognition of this public well being epidemic and devoted efforts to finish sexual violence and harassment, few packages have been profitable. The issue is that they’re preventing an uphill battle towards the prevailing social mores described above. If males are inherently extra highly effective than girls and might outline “good” and “unhealthy” girls, the one option to finish sexual assault and harassment is to persuade males they need to not assault girls. In any other case, the one choice is to mitigate the affect by convincing bystanders to intervene, or coaching girls to defend themselves.

We want a very new strategy. Let’s think about societies with two placing cultural variations from the US. These cultures maintain that ladies are equal to males and that ladies, from teenhood, ought to have full management over their very own our bodies.

Think about the Kreung society of the stunning Ratanakiri (“Mountain of Jewels”) Province in Cambodia. The Kreung imagine that wholesome, loving marriages require girls who’re sturdy, confident, and have self-confidence about their sexuality. Mother and father assist every teen daughter obtain this state by giving her a room of her personal. She will invite a boy she likes to spend the night time in her room. There, she makes all the foundations and reigns supreme. Will they discuss the night time away? Sleep? Cuddle? Have intercourse? She alone decides. On this utterly safe house, she is free to discover her personal sexuality, to find what pleases her. When she says, “No,” he obeys immediately, with out argument or unhealthy emotions. A boy who flouts this rule faces extreme penalties from your entire neighborhood, as do his mother and father.

Take one other attention-grabbing group, the Vanatinai, a small island society off New Guinea. There, men and women are equal in all main features of life: decision-making, ritual practices, non secular energy, property holdings, and sexual exercise. By working exhausting to realize items and giving them away by ritual generosity, anybody of any intercourse can change into one of many authoritative and influential leaders often called “gia”. Everyone seems to be free to have interaction in intercourse earlier than marriage, to finish a wedding, and to marry as usually as, and with whomever, she or he needs.

The end result? Divorce is uncommon in these societies; sexual violence just about unknown.

The Takeaway

Sexual violence and harassment are rooted within the very foundations of tradition. It’s not sufficient to inform males they need to not indulge, or bystanders that they need to intervene, or girls that they need to defend themselves. Ending sexual violence and harassment requires a basic shift in cultural attitudes and values, starting with equality between men and women, and ladies’s full management over their very own our bodies. This variation consists of ending the putative “safety” of girls—together with legal guidelines to limit abortion, to control girls’s apparel in methods which are totally different from these for males, or different social and authorized constraints that declare to “defend” however really disempower and diminish girls. Solely such primary cultural and authorized adjustments will make it potential to finish sexual violence and harassment towards girls.


Cdc.gov. (2017). Sexual Violence: Prevention Methods. [online] Accessible right here.

Lepowsky, M. (1993). Fruit of the motherland. New York: Columbia College Press.

Mullin, E. The Most cancers Vaccine That Too Many Folks Ignore. (2017). MIT Know-how Overview, 120 (6), pp.16-17.

Muong, V. (2014). ‘Love huts’ of Ratanakiri minorities: Is a practice quietly slipping away?. The Phnom Penh Publish.

Procida, R. and Simon, R. (2007). International views on social points. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books.

This visitor article initially appeared on the award-winning well being and science weblog and brain-themed neighborhood, BrainBlogger: The Risks of American Sexual Prudishness.

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