Sex Isn't Natural, It's Cultural
How many times do we distinguish between “natural” and “unnatural sex?” We base these definitions on prejudices that have been following us for years. In the distant past, people believed that sex had a solely reproductive purpose. But later, people began defending the idea that it was natural for humans to have sex for mere pleasure.
However, the nature of sex isn’t exactly what we think it is. We think it means freedom, when in reality doesn’t so much. Do you think you’re free when you’re having sex? Do you think you have no limits? This could not be further from the truth. Culture influences sex much more than we think.
Sex isn’t natural, it’s normal
When we refer to sex as natural, what we’re really saying is that it’s viewed not strangely. Rather, it’s a completely normal, valid, and acceptable act. However, the word “natural” refers to nature, like Valérie Tasso, writer and sexologist, said in one of her conferences.
Sex is natural in animals. They’re not influenced by any culture, they’re not born and raised with certain beliefs. Humans are, however. Our concept of relationships with other people, our own view of the world wouldn’t be the same if we were born in a different country. So it’s important to bring up some of the most interesting points that Valérie Tasso mentioned about this idea of sex:
- Sex is a kind of value to us, so therefore it doesn’t make us more animal, but more human. Think about how much people reflect on whether they’re ready or not for their first time. We have values in our heads that condition us.
- Morals are not universal, because if they were, we’d all have the same sexual practices. Everybody is different when it comes to sex because customs and norms vary from place to place.
“Sex is natural in octopi.”
But we think that sex makes us more animal. That’s why prejudices arise and people repress themselves. That’s why people worry about what’s good and bad, right and wrong, natural and unnatural. But what determines that? Culture.
Sex in the context of culture
Sex is a cultural act, just like going to a museum. We learn it all from a very young age. Isn’t it true that you don’t just have sex out in the middle of a park just because you want to? Don’t you reserve those moments of pleasure for a more intimate setting? That’s because we’ve been taught how to have sex.
However, this can also be a problem. You know how when you travel to another country, you experience culture shock? It’s the same with sex. Every place has a different history, and therefore, their people are different, too. In some places, like Japan, for example, men are considered to be very cold. However, Latinos are described as highly passionate. There are huge differences between all the different territories of the world based on the culture that permeates them, which enriches us all as human beings.
“[Human] sexuality is never something natural that comes strictly from biology, and if we classify it as “natural,” we’re doing so based on certain historical and cultural parameters.”
-Elena Martínez Navarro-
Everything related to sex is strongly linked to religious beliefs. So even if you consider yourself an agnostic or an atheist, the place where you were born may have a Judeo-Christian or Shinto tradition. This permeates into the culture that you’re conditioned by and makes you view sexual relationships in a certain way.
Do you think that sexuality is natural? Do you think the way you see and experience it is free from external influence? Remember, sex is ultimately like going to the theater. You might go once with one person, another time with someone else, or two people…you might see a ballet or a play. Regardless, everything that’s represented within you is influenced by external factors.
Images courtesy of Tatyana Ilieva