Sociology Modern Taboos

Discussion in 'Sociology' started by amantine, Nov 8, 2004.

  1. amantine

    amantine Premium Member

    I recently thought about taboos in our society. I doubt the taboos of earlier generations were seen by them as taboos. It is only logical that our society also has certain taboos. My goal in this post is to provide a way to look for those taboos and to identify a few. I don't necessarily agree that the things that constitute those taboos should be permitted, but I think it is good for us to identify them.

    I'm going to identify taboos using the following 'golden' rule: 'practices that don't cause harm to anyone or only cause harm with permission of those that recieve the harm or of a representative government should be allowed.' I want to look for practices that are now not allowed, but should be allowed according to that rule. That rule is not always right, but generally works out pretty well.

    The obvious place to look for taboos is in sexuality. We've come a long way in the struggle for sexual freedom, but I don't think we're there yet. I don't consider homosexuality or transsexuality a taboo, because the laws already allow for it in the Netherlands. I can identify quite a few sexual practices that don't violate the 'golden' rule, but that most people still consider offensive. I'm not going to list them here, unless someone asks for it, because I don't know if the other moderators would be happy with it. (Isn't the fact that I worry about mentioning them already an indication that they might be a taboo?)

    A not so offensive taboo might be asexuality, people without any sexual preference. Research in animals indicates about 2% of the people might be asexual, but nobody ever talks about it and most don't believe it exists.

    I also want to take a look at people that are sometimes considered to be psychologically ill. For a long time, homosexual people were considered crazy. Maybe some of the people we consider crazy now, are not really crazy at all. I'm thinking about self-mutilation and sado-masochistic people here. Why can't they hurt themselves or let other people hurt themselves if they want to? I really want you to think about that: What is wrong with pain as a source of pleasure or pain as the basis of a relationship?

    I tried to keep this post as unoffensive as possible, even although I wanted to go much further. I hope this will cause some discussion. What do you think are the taboos of our society?
  2. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member

    Interesting topic.

    The one taboo that immediately came to mind was euthanasia. As a society we wouldn't think twice about putting down a suffering animal - it's the humane thing to do. But when it comes to ending a suffering human's life - society tends to get a bit squeamish about the whole idea.

    Why? Are religious teachings that hard-wired into our psyche that the fear of eternal damnation - although not spoken - has become a conditioned response.

  3. amantine

    amantine Premium Member

    Yes, in the United States euthanasia is still a taboo. In the Netherlands, you can do in certain conditions after evaluation by three doctors, I believe. But you can talk about euthanasia freely, so I don't think it counts as a taboo.
  4. junior_smith

    junior_smith Premium Member

    when does taboo become censorship?
  5. amantine

    amantine Premium Member

    Taboo can be seen as self-censorshi, by individuals and by society.. People just don't talk (or think) about it. If the government tries to suppress the people that want to discuss if we need that taboo, it becomes censorship.

    I think a taboo can play a positive role in a society, but most of the taboos are not useful and just hurt certain people. A taboo against incest is useful, because incest is biologically a bad thing when it happens without protection against pregnancy. It might be better to keep people from incest using arguments and reasoning than by silently condemning it, but you can't deny that a taboo against incest has a positive influence.
  6. Zsandmann

    Zsandmann Premium Member

    What about blowing your nose in a restaurant? Arg! Ok maybe just my pet peeve and not really a taboo.

    What about the phase "Spare the rod, spoil the child"? Is it now taboo to admit you forcefully disipline your child for fear of being seen as a child abuser?
  7. pineappleupsidedown

    pineappleupsidedown Premium Member

    What about saving yourself for marriage? Its slowing becoming more unheard of to have a single person in their 20's or 30's who has not had sex. Teenagers are being encouraged to at least lie about their virginity. It might not be true yet, but what do you think?

  8. junior_smith

    junior_smith Premium Member

    views on aids and cancer and ilnesses.
    views on poverty
    " " 3rd world countries
  9. Bleys

    Bleys Phoenix Takes Flight Staff Member

    Aah, but isn't that the point:

    A taboo becomes just that because one culture views it as distasteful or forbidden while another accepts it. Also, discussion of a subject does not necessarily make it any less taboo. I can discuss pedophilia but still find the practice reprehensible (taboo).

    Sexually proclivities or quirks are probably without a doubt the last of the unspoken taboos. The intimacy we share with a partner if openly acknowledged or talked about would probably give acquaintances, friends and family ifits (or at least mild amusement).

    I like the varying views everyone has posted on this subject. Perception and perspective is everything.

  10. junior_smith

    junior_smith Premium Member

    i had a friend whos dad was in to all that pedophilia stuff, but we couldnt really do it because it was our friends dad, really awkawrd situation, but it is shows the taboo assocated with that subject, when in ancient greece the relationship between a man and a boy was the highest form of love
  11. Mizar

    Mizar Premium Member

    I would have to say that right now in America a tabbo is the Draft.
  12. /Future Corpse/

    /Future Corpse/ Premium Member

    Actually it is considered a big No-No in Japan. It is all relative to culture.
  13. mOjOm

    mOjOm New Member

    I can come up with an even better example than that amantine. But still staying within the general 'Sexuallity' area of Taboo.

    Even before you get to a Taboo dealing with Sexual Acts, Physical Contact, Concentual Ages, etc. there comes an even stranger yet very well known and in tact Taboo in Culture. Especailly in the U.S. That Taboo is 'Transvestites'. (aka: Cross-Dressing)

    Typically, although not always, Transvestites that are Men in Women's Clothes do in fact like women. In fact they are in all respects exactly like any other 'Normal' man, except for the fact that they wear women's clothes.

    This simply has not been allowed in society. While on the other hand, Women wearing mens clothing is very common and nobody thinks anything about a woman in a Suit & Slacks for example anymore.

    A perfect example in fact, for those who have seen him, is a Comic named Eddie Izzard. He actually goes into explaining himself and his 'Executive' Transvestite style.
  14. bodebliss

    bodebliss The Zoc-La of Kromm-B Premium Member

    I think progressive taboos about sex involving older to younger are pretty serious in the west, but maybe not so in the east and definitely not so for our closest cousin on the evolutionary tree : bonobos .
  15. big goober

    big goober New Member

    I think blowing your nose in a restaurante is only taboo when you use the table cloth. AS for modern day real taboo: Helping Jill off the horse and and completely forgeting about Jack!!!!:mnky: