Different Cultural Attitudes Towards Sex: Which Imperfect Do You Favor More?

My partner is fully fluent in French and spent a good bit of time in France, so she often brings a different perspective to certain subjects and particular matters that the average American would not. 

Recently I came across a PSA that has aired on French television that would never air in this country due to its unapologetic sexual content, which I have enclosed below.  (Not SFW) The message very cleverly conveyed at the end translates as “Protect Yourself” against HIV/AIDS, by using a condom before engaging in sex.

For all of the ways that some of us of a more liberal persuasion glorify French culture, my partner found some elements difficult to understand and to adapt to.  As she puts it, in France, sex is everywhere, yet people have more traditional attitudes towards sexuality.  For example, the hookup culture which characterizes American society is far less pronounced in France. 

The ironies are telling.  Here, we demonize, shame, and seek to induce great guilt in those who have premarital sex or, particularly regarding women, those who make no attempt to hide their sexuality from public view.  Yet, underneath all of our posturing is the fact that sexual behavior and sexual conduct is integral to the American mindset.  Thus, we are beholden to hypocrisy on a massive scale, and the mixed messages that come along with it, particularly those targeted for women, have been pointed out many times within Feminist circles.     

But to return to France yet again, few bat an eye when a politician engages in a flagrant affair or violates the supposed bonds of marriage by an unapologetic act of adultery.  The implication is that politicians cheat, as to men, and one ought not to expect otherwise.  This perception also carries over to the average citizen, whereupon it is expected that all men cheat.

Which imperfect system to you favor more? 

The one where women are held to a standard of purity that no one can live up to, or the one where women ought to expect that their partners will be unfaithful?  The one where we say that those who engage in sexual conduct are slut and whores, but then often end up with having casual sex or the one where you can see sex on television, but find it more difficult to end up in bed with the person you encounter at the nightclub or the show?  The one where we think politicians ought to be perfect in every way, shape, or form, then become disillusioned when they reveal themselves to be utterly human, or the one where politicians are supposed to be licentious creatures, so why expect anything better of them?

The decision is ours.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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