Love vs Sex 102

No matter how liberated the media may appear, to many Americans sexuality is considered deeply dangerous—a risk factor.

Europeans, in contrast, view adolescent sexuality as a normal developmental stage on the way to healthy adult sexuality. Sex is not a problem; being irresponsible about sex is. Hence the European counter-slogan to “Not Me, Not Now” is “Safe Sex or No Sex.” It’s also worth noting that in Europe, teenagers engage in sexual activity an average of two years later than their American counterparts, and the rate at which teenagers give birth is a staggering eight times less. How is it that American society, with such a clear bias against teen sex, produces such a statistical embarrassment?

Taboo-ridden sexuality (religious, familial, social) and excess driven sexuality (porn, sexually toned advertising, provocative clothing trends, strip clubs, etc) converge in a troubling way. Both lead us to want to dissociate psychically from the physical act of sex. A society that sees sex as soiled does not make sex go away. Instead, this kind of anxious atmosphere breeds guilt and shame in its more extreme version, or a generalized discomfort in its more ubiquitous expression. Sex is divorced from emotional and social continuity. What is missing is a sexuality that is integrated, in which pleasure flourishes in a context of relatedness. I’m not talking about deep love; I’m also talking about basic care and appreciation for another person.

Mating in Captivity

Esther Perel          2006

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