Popular American culture seems to be dominated by two contrasting attitudes towards human sexuality.
On the one hand, you have the attitude that manifests itself in the stupid sexualization of youth.
It must seem to any neutral observer that America’s media, with surprisingly few exceptions, is absolutely obsessed with sexualizing ever younger and younger children. What else can you make of such nonsense as thongs and fishnet stockings made for preteens? Yet, the science is in on this absurd practice: Studies show that such sexualization has numerous negative consequences and few or no benefits. So what is the attitude — the thinking, as it were — of the people who perpetrate this blunder?
I believe what underlies the sexualization of youth is pretty murky, rather than clear cut. Surely, some people are promoting sexualization in order to exploit kids for financial and business gain. But what attitude or thought process encourages the mother who puts her eight year old daughter in fishnets? That mother cannot be said to be doing it for financial or business gain. But if not, then what is she thinking? That puzzles me.
On the other hand, in American culture you have the attitude that manifests itself in the equally stupid abstinence only sex education movement.
I think the attitude that underlies abstinence only sex education is more clear cut than the attitudes that underlie the sexualization of youth. That’s to say, underlying abstinence only sex education is a peculiar blind and obstinate prudishness. There may be other attitudes mixed in with that one, but I will wager that prudishness is predominant.
Abstinence only sex education is only the sharp tip of that prudishness. The same prudishness also manifests itself in a pervasive fearfulness towards sex that at times is indistinguishable from wretched hysteria. That astonishing fearfulness is often accompanied by ignorance, unrealistic expectations, squeamishness, and even outright rejection of ones sexuality. We often make fun of prudishness in this country, but it is perhaps equally possible to think of it as crippling.
Both of these popular American attitudes towards sexuality — both the attitudes that manifest as the sexualization of youth and the attitude that manifests as abstinence only sex education (among other things) — are dysfunctional.
In my opinion, Americans could not have picked two attitudes towards sex more stupid than those two. Indeed, the fact those two ideas are the predominant ideas about sex in American popular culture severely argues against the notion that our country is, or has ever been, blessed by a deity.
Anyway, that’s how I see it. So what have I overlooked here?