Sexual Taboos: When Cultures Collide

mp11477350_1429418818950_1Taboos, especially sexual taboos, have existed for as long as humans have had culture, and are one of the many ways in which a culture maintains cohesion and group identity (i.e. we don’t do that, but they do.) But as we come closer to being a truly global culture, many things that were once generally considered inappropriate or taboo within one culture are becoming increasingly more common and even accepted thanks to cultural sharing and inclusive conversations. While religious and traditional institutions staunchly oppose this increasing acceptance and normalization of sexual taboos, there is growing conversation citing that between consenting adults with mutual understanding of what’s taking place, there cannot be anything that is intrinsically “wrong” or “inappropriate.”

There are many taboos concerning sex that are becoming quite commonplace. For instance, the practice of “swinging,” that is, trading partners for the sole purpose of having sex with them while still being part of a committed relationship, surges in popularity every few decades. The concept of same sex relationships, while being utterly forbidden by many religious and cultural standards, is becoming accepted and even embraced as a natural expression of who an individual is, with the recognition that love is love. Other practices, such as bondage and fetishes (the number and variety of which far exceeds the scope of the article) continue to remain on the fringes, with varying levels of acceptability, depending on the specific subculture.

It’s important to remember, though, that what is considered taboo now, may not have always been considered such, and that practices that are commonplace now may have been strictly taboo quite recently. Things that we consider a completely normal part of a healthy sexual relationship, like oral sex and masturbation, were once considered generally inappropriate an even the sign of a mental disorder. Some religions still hold such practices as strictly forbidden and unforgivable.

If you have interest in taking part in something that is considered sexually taboo, it’s recommended to find out as much as you can about the practice first. Consider medical information; are there any health risks or side effects to the practice? Many sexual taboos have strong and supportive communities surrounding them, seeking out people who regularly engage in those taboos can provide a wealth of information. What advice can they offer? Any tips or suggestions? Any repercussions or negative feedback they’ve received for engaging in such practices? If so, why do they continue to engage in that practice? As with anything new, especially things with a socially perceived negative image, it’s important to proceed with as much information as possible, that way you know what you’re getting into and what to generally expect as an experience.

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