Why Do Some People Think Sexuality is Taboo?

Some people think that sexuality is bad. For this reason, it often ends up becoming a taboo subject for them. In fact, they find themselves condemned to obtain only suffering from a part of their life that should be linked to pleasure.
Why Do Some People Think Sexuality is Taboo?
Sergio De Dios González

Written and verified by the psychologist Sergio De Dios González.

Last update: 04 September, 2022

Although nowadays, sex as a topic of conversation is much less taboo, many people are still uninformed on the subject. Having access to pornographic movies or listening to what’s said about it aren’t factors that offer true training in sexuality. Furthermore, in many places, sex education classes leave a lot to be desired.

There are also the taboos imposed by various religions and families in some parts of the world. Added up, it leads some people to believe that sexuality is taboo or that it’s part of a forbidden world. Thinking in this way limits personal development and hinders an individual’s life as a partner.

Among the factors that lead to the prejudice that sexuality is bad is patriarchalism. Indeed, it occupies a central place in this type of belief. That’s because it establishes a directive for ‘good women’ and, consequently, the men who are linked with them.

Furthermore, errors or inaccuracies in the concepts of pleasure and pain, as well as restrictive ethics also have an influence.

There is no love without sexual instinct. Love makes use of this instinct as of a brutal force, as the brigantine uses the wind.”

-Jose Ortega y Gasset-

Intertwined hands of a couple in bed
Thinking that sexuality is bad limits personal development and relationships.

Sexuality and fear

Unfortunately, sexuality is a topic with aspects that can inspire fear. It’s not necessary to suffer from erotophobia for this to be the case. Perhaps the most widespread fear is that of not performing adequately with a partner. In other words, it’s fear of rejection for not responding to the intimate expectations of a partner.

The origin of the fear of sexuality can also be related to a mental association between sexuality and transgression. In fact, several religions openly forbid sex outside marriage or even sex for pleasure. They deal with sexuality in its most basic sense: an indispensable biological contact to preserve the species.

The consequence of this is that sexuality, but above all sexual pleasure, gives rise to guilt. Liking sex or enjoying sex is almost seen as approaching ‘perversion’ or ‘animality’, despite the fact that it’s precisely this basic vision of sex that’s closest to the zoological kind. Indeed, pleasurable sexuality is perceived as a kind of degradation, a ‘fall from grace’, or a loss.

Why do some see sexuality as taboo?

The fact that there are so many fears associated with sexuality gives the subject a negative connotation. Nevertheless, fears don’t simply appear on their own. There are factors that help them arise and also that nurture them. Among these factors are the following.

Previous learning

The education received in the family or at school is decisive. It’s usually impregnated with the educator’s attitude regarding sex, as well as their prejudices.

For the same reason, it’s not uncommon for erroneous information to be transmitted and the recipient doesn’t seek to question it. This also applies to those who’ve been indoctrinated by what their friends say or by what pornography presents.

Contempt for science

Some people see science as a threatening terrain. They consider it too ‘cold’ or they think it violates ‘morality’. Indeed, religions often have a certain enmity against scientists, implicit and explicit. This leads some to view the data provided by science with suspicion, especially on issues such as sexuality.

Negative experiences

If there are previous negative experiences, such as the rejection of a partner, an assault, bad behavior, etc., it’s possible that sexuality is seen as having threatening or negative connotations.

Woman thinking
Negative experiences in the sexual field can condition the conception that we have about sexuality.

Sexual abuse

Obviously, people who’ve been victims of some form of sexual abuse find the subject of sexuality traumatic. They don’t necessarily need to have been the object of a violation but could’ve been verbally harassed or inappropriately touched, for instance.

What can be done?

Not every adult has had a sexual education, no matter how many sexual relationships they may have had.  For example, they may know the biological basis of sexuality but are far from understanding its meanings or implications. This needs to be corrected.

It’s extremely important to be well informed on the subject of sexuality. Everyone needs to understand that sexual pleasure is a sensitive and sophisticated biological mechanism for the survival of the species. If sex didn’t involve pleasure, it may be rarely practiced and the result could be extinction.

If a person rejects sexuality in an extreme way, or if the issue causes them problems, it’s best for them to undergo psychotherapy or discuss the issue with a professional. In fact, many gaps and obstacles can be overcome by interacting with someone who’s both knowledgeable and nonjudgmental.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Foucault, M. (2002). Historia de la sexualidad: El uso de los placeres (Vol. 2). Siglo xxi.
  • Rivas, M. J. F. (2006). De lo visible, lo invisible, lo estigmatizado y lo prohibido. Revista de Estudios de Juventud, (75), 11-27.
  • Ziliotto, Gisela Cardoso y Marcolan, João FernandoEntender los prejuicios de los individuos de sufrimiento psíquico sobre la sexualidad. Revista Brasileira de Enfermagem [online]. 2020, v. 73, n. 2 [Accedido 3 Agosto 2022], e20190270. Disponible en: <https://doi.org/10.1590/0034-7167-2019-0270>. Epub 30 Mar 2020. ISSN 1984-0446. https://doi.org/10.1590/0034-7167-2019-0270.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.