Why are Americans so shy when it comes to sex? Let’s face it, if people were not having sex, we wouldn’t be here. When you think about it, it is surprising that pregnant women are not trying to cover up when they start to show, after all, everyone who sees them will know they had sex! What must their parents think? At this point you are thinking this is silly, right? We are proud and happy when our children, grandchildren, siblings and friends are expecting; we don’t think about sex when it comes to pregnancy. It is a beautiful thing! Yes, it is, but so is sex and so is a naked body. Even the names of our body parts embarrass us! You rarely hear people speak of their penis or vagina. Certainly over the course of your life you have had reason to mention them to others, no? If the title of this article had the word vagina in it, people might be embarrassed if someone saw that they were stopping to read the article. It seems that this is more of an American hangup (when compared to most European countries and Canada). Why are we so shy? When does this start?
From the time we are children we are taught that our “private parts” are, well, private. We shouldn’t touch them or talk about them and most definitely, we should never let anyone see or touch them. It is understandable with all the sick people in the world that parents want to protect their children from harm, but are they doing them a disservice? I would bet that most American parents feel justified and think this is the best way to protect their children. Perhaps it is, but wouldn’t it be healthier to adopt a more casual approach toward teaching children about their bodies? Allowing children to see their parents naked would probably help them to know that nudity is not something to be ashamed of. Many times you will see children with their parents at a nude beach yet they are almost never American. European women think nothing of taking off their bathing suit tops yet American’s are very shy at the notion.
I happen to catch the show “Project Runway” recently and the models for the challenge were nudists and the contestants had to design an outfit that would keep them warm but that they would feel comfortable wearing. When the models were called in, they were naked. I could not believe how uncomfortable the contestants were! The models were completely relaxed and had no compunction standing naked while they discussed clothing options. When they left the contestants were in shock! Why? Had they never seen a naked body before? When you consider this, it really is not normal.
The same situation exists when talking about sex. Obviously, at some point in time, everyone will have sex. We have sex education classes in school yet somehow we never actually talk about sex. We talk about conception in terms of sperm and eggs but never penis and vagina. We learn about fallopian tubes, the uterus and ovaries but never about the clitoris or g-spot. We learn that a male will get an erection but never about the pleasure both male and female will experience during intercourse. Orgasm, let’s get real, that word never came up in class.
Parents usually at realize they must have “the talk” with their children at some point, but what are they actually talking about it? Besides giving them information about pregnancy and STDs, do they explain anything further? Most do not. No discussion about what feels good or how it is normal to touch yourself. Their embarrassment simply tells us that sex is something so embarrassing, that they cannot really discuss it with us. Most kids would agree that their parents seemed elated when “the talk” was finished and you had no questions.
I can remember as a child taking a field trip to the zoo. The monkeys started having sex as our group of fifth graders were being led by their caged area. The guide told us not to stop and to hurry past the cages. He was very embarrassed and refused to let us stop to see the exhibit. He called them naughty monkeys and chided them through the cage as he moved us past them. What kind of message was he sending us? Back at school when we questioned our teacher about it, she told us the monkeys were being silly. Silly? Would it not have been more educational to say they were doing something natural?
This might explain why even as adults, people rarely talk about sex. Before entering the lifestyle, when we spent all of our time with vanilla friends, it was rare that we talked about sex. If we did, it was joking around about a funny incident such as having the kids walk in on us or trying to find time when the kids weren’t around, etc.. We never spoke about specifics or laughed about new toys. If we spoke about our new passion for anal sex I’m not sure we would have ever seen any of these “friends” again. The nice thing about lifestyle friends is that you do talk about sex and nothing is off limits.
We certainly are not born thinking there is shame in our naked bodies so where and why do we learn this? We know that by the time puberty hits we go to great lengths to keep our bodies to ourselves as we are somewhat ashamed of the changes taking place. We can all remember the difficulty of changing for gym class and can now look back and wonder why our parents and educators did not attempt to lessen our discomfort with some education. Sure, we learned about puberty, but laughed about it through every class with intense embarrassment.
What is it about our naked bodies that make us so uncomfortable? I imagine for women it is their perception that they have less than perfect bodies, and when exposed, everyone can see their flaws (whether real or imagined). For men, perhaps it is a combination of the size of their penis, and how they measure up to other men. It is also perhaps the fear of arousal while exposed (at an inappropriate moment). This is a possibility for men mostly because they are not used to being naked and seeing others naked. Like anything else, they would be desensitized if being naked were not so taboo. When you spend time at a nude beach, it is rare to see a man with an erection. Even when you do, most people would agree, it is not a big deal as we have all seen it before!
When you become part of the lifestyle, you discover how liberating it is to get past this. You learn to undress in front of others and discover that nobody is pointing and laughing. Regardless of body size and type, hair or no, tattoos, piercings and scars, nobody is ever pointing or laughing. Taking your clothing off in front of your friends at a nude beach or resort is incredibly liberating! To feel the warmth of the sun on your entire body is worth the risk of the momentary pang of discomfort the first time you undress in public. You will also discover that it feels very normal when everyone is also naked. The conversations about sex and your personal sex life will become a part of your life as well. When you realize how liberating the lifestyle is you will wonder how people can go through their entire life covering up some of the most genuine things about themselves. Sex is something beautiful and natural and talking about it is normal! When you swing you also begin to see sex as something beautiful even when it is shared. Society is so rigid in its beliefs about monogamy and clothing that it keeps us from truly acting in a way that is perhaps more natural than we realize. Maybe the monkeys are right in the way they behave. They act on instinct and seem to be just fine the way they are. Do they really need humans to tell them what is right and to make them feel ashamed? I personally prefer the attitudes I have discovered from the lifestyle. How very liberating to finally be comfortable in my own skin and with my sexuality!