Friday, July 20, 2012

Modern Sexuality Meets Old School Morality

The last twenty years have presented a big change in our way of thinking, and have amplified the effects of a new way of thinking. Hugh Hefner founded Playboy magazine in 1953 and in doing so had started a social movement that ultimately had resulted in a change of attitudes with regard to sexuality. It had been targeted on a number of grounds related to differing views of morality. The entirety of the history of printed works has been pocked with such events over its long history but has matured into a powerful force in the shaping of our social views, sexuality being one of them. Playboy, which featured a mixture of erotic pictorials, articles, editorials and fiction was the first face on the modern printing landscape and was soon to be followed by numerous other magazines such as Penthouse, each filling a different niche in society's appetite for sexuality.

The results of this changing attitude despite the onslaught of those who have stood against it was perhaps the drawing of attention to the need for sex education in secondary schools, which at that point already had a tiny but silent following (we are talking about pre-sixties sensibility). Many of those who initially stood against it eventually changed views, some of whom were even interviewed by Playboy magazine. This mentality and open minded thinking continued through the sixties and seventies renewed innocence and overindulgence, demonstrating an awakening of humanity's attitudes toward their own sexuality.

The Internet, another publishing medium albeit one that allows immediate feedback and interactivity became the new ground for such a conflict. Socially with the Internet as the new medium we have followed the same path as that which was taken in the sixties and seventies, and four hundred years earlier during the Renaissance. Again the social attitudes see-sawed back to a more conservative brand of thinking.

There is a balance point in regard to sexual etiquette and social sexuality that is very important in terms of how our views of sex actually affect society. When that balance is pushed one way or the other in terms of liberal or conservative views, society is affected similarly in each case. It is important to note that my use of the terms liberal and conservative do not refer to political ideas nor to actual political parties but more a representation of a school of thinking.

When society is too conservative towards sexuality, the side effects can be devastating to society as a whole. This begins with the pressure to clamp down on sexuality in every social medium by way of affecting social attitudes. This balance point is important because it affects how people feel in their openness about their own sexuality. That is in a overtly conservative society, the pressure is geared to make those who are unashamed about their sexuality feel guilty for such, perhaps by associating it with something that is unacceptable to the rest of society. This serves as pressure to the whole, and affects the comfort level that adults making adult decisions with regard to their own lives and their own sexuality. This may include their attitudes and habits of their partnerships which are subjective, their own personal sexuality such as masturbation which is a perfectly natural thing, or even about their choice in terms of the gender they choose to date a la same sex partnerships.

Often, when society has become liberal enough so that people are generally more accepting of such sexual ideas practiced by consenting adults, the more conservative of those in society may be tempted to associate such ideas with something that is completely unacceptable so that it would be easier to eradicate that way of thinking and the whole practice of openness with regard to sexuality.

When adults are pressured in a social manner to feel threatened or guilty for anything that is a part of their natural makeup and that does not involve obsessive or addictive behaviour, the results can lead to the creation of a sexual market that is not entirely for the better. I am talking about drug (mostly crack cocaine and perhaps crystal meth or some other equally addicting agent) motivated prostitution, which involves the luring of (young) women and sometimes men by way of the use of addictive drug as a motivator and a catalyst. That is when people are made to feel guilty or persecuted about natural sexual tendencies as practiced by adults mature enough to make their own decisions, given long enough in this sort of social pressure, will create the market necessary to feed that repressed social desire in adults.

In this case I cite that overtly conservative attack upon natural sexual activity actually results in the creation of underground markets to satiate the repressed public in this regard and ends up harming those that it intends to protect.

Now let's look at the flip side of the coin. In a liberally minded society with equally liberal attitudes with regard to adults involved in the practice of their own sexuality, the common ground for what is acceptable and what is not slowly moves as society slowly is changed by the lack social constraint with regard to these issues. That is what was previously unacceptable slowly becomes acceptable given enough time and open attitudes. The things that may have shocked us, no longer do. The constraints that would have prevented somebody's daughter from going out and partying, getting involved in crack cocaine and liking it and the adventurous lifestyle of those associated with it, and ultimately ending up losing her home and living on the street, selling their body to support the habit, don't exist because nobody knows about that kind of a thing or because that's just the way it is. Perhaps with such open views there are those that aren't and perhaps don't want to be by way of choice so sexually enlightened. They would feel uncomfortable in such a society, and especially when approached by someone whom feels the opposite within those regards and wrongly assumes and expects an openness from that person on the grounds that the many other people feel that way.

In extremis each side of the conservative or liberal attitudes in a society with regard to adult sexuality tend to lead by way of example to the same thing.

Neither of these extremities take into consideration the effects of sexual exploitation of perhaps somebody that has experienced the extreme in that regard. Take somebody that has been harvested into sexual trafficking or victimized through rape. Perhaps it started out against their will with them experiencing rape and being violated in a way that would not be very inviting or conducive of our ideas of modern sexuality for it is someone's innocence being violated in a way that would be hard for most people to imagine. Such a person would have much different ideas of sexuality and love. Such a person once they were liberated from such a situation would would probably have difficulty adjusting (although I would hope that they could learn to trust again) to a loving relationship as their notion of that would have been destroyed and every time their lover caressed them lovingly, they would perhaps be reminded of being violated.

This brings me back to Playboy and the sexual revolution. The importance of the role of education with regard to sexuality and confidence despite peer pressure has created a society where sexuality is in the hands of those who wield it. It is through the confidence of education, and not just sex education but social attitude education and the teaching of individual confidence in the face of peer pressure and the fact that you are in the driver's seat when you make decisions with regard to your future with the absence of the people that you look up to. Individuality, within a social society. Through these ideals, education and confidence and especially self confidence we find a society incapable of victimizing those so empowered.

This idea encompasses both hetero and homosexual individuals, and those around the world whom have become independent and empowered by education, self confidence and realized their individuality and the sanctity of their bodies and ultimately their right to choose whom they give up their most cherished to and the understanding where that is just the beginning of a healthy and long lasting relationship. That is the empowerment of sex education and self actualization, both in a large part of contribution to the shaping of social attitudes that began with art many centuries ago and culminated in ultimately that which would become the legacy of courageous artists from across history, educators and magazines like Playboy and Penthouse, which like many Renaissance painting had the courage to say, "there is no need to fear nakedness, for underneath is the most beautiful of creations: our bodies".

© Copyright 2012 Brian Joseph Johns

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