Monday, April 11, 2011

Uncomfortable? Why? Why?!

What is discomfort?

Not physical discomfort; not psychological torment; but the increasingly-difficult-to-suppress squirm; the nervous laughter; the underlying conviction that you shouldn't be discussing this or doing this. No one tells you to change the topic, except for perhaps the laughing protests of your equally as vaguely uncomfortable friend, but it feels as though your grandmother or school principal is always a half-step away from you, like you have to be extremely careful to maintain the environment and to control the variables.

It's that subject, the topic you have a strange and strong urge to hide, that intrigues me. Why do many of us find ourselves so inarticulate when faced with the dilemma of discussing sex?

There are other things too, of course, but I think about this kind of problem quite often. My mind constantly strains to theorize its way to the root of a problem: it asks questions and answers them, asks subquestions and answers them, until it comes up with an often incorrect but at least passably logical explanation for every halfway interesting event. So when I try to solve a question like one of discomfort, it's slightly frustrating but mostly fascinating that there doesn't seem to be a beginning, at least not one that I can mentally discover.

My thought process on why we, as a general group of human beings, are so uncomfortable with discussing sex, goes something like this: We are uncomfortable with discussing sex because sex is something that we consider to be private and meant to be kept private. We think it should be kept private because it requires a great deal of emotional and physical intimacy. We think that intimacy should be kept private because it's something that we logistically can't share with more than one person at a time.*

But that's sort of a dead end, so I try again:
We are uncomfortable with discussing sex because it has traditionally been kept private, usually between the couple. It's been kept private because it's viewed as something that, when done with keeping within the bounds of what is moral, should only take place between two intimate people. We have this moral view of sex because most religions in the world say that sex should only take place between two people in a committed relationship. Religions were constructed that way either because God ordained it, if you take the theistic approach, or because it was the most practical thing for society to do, in the atheistic approach. Since having sex is typically meant to create babies, it makes more sense to keep it within two people so that things don't get confusing when one guy fathers a truckload of babies. Of course, that actually happens in modern society and happened a heck of a lot in the olden days, so maybe sex as a private thing was done to ensure that women stayed loyal to their children.

I don't know. It's very convoluted. But I think it's an interesting question. Why are we so uncomfortable about sex? Virtually everyone will have sex at some point in their lives; we all either have one or the other lady/man parts; it's necessary to carry on the species; so why are we so afraid to talk about it? Does it matter? Is it better this way? Is this making you uncomfortable right now? Why? Regardless, why do we have this attitude?

*You with the dirty mind, stoppit. You know what I mean.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I totally didn't see where this was going when you started but I eventually caught on.

It's kind of funny to think of for me, because I never got a sex talk. Ever. I mean, obviously I figured it out, I just can't remember how. There was certainly no sex ed day with my mom. I don't know where my info comes from. Books my mom bought me? Not sure. Possibly because of this, I never inherited the cultural discomfort.

My older sister is plenty uncomfortable talking about it. She practically squirms if you bring it up. And it is, of course, awkward to watch make out scenes in movies with my dad in the room and while I probably wouldn't bring it up randomly with friends, I don't shy away from the topic.

Is that just another facet of my weirdness to add to the list?