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In the wake of pressing cultural matters to hit newsreels throughout the country, one such matter has yet to be addressed: sex positive culture. Almost a curse word in the Bible Belt, yet in other regions of the country it is supported and rallied behind with fervor. The reasoning behind both ends is indeed noble, and both sides as well have wacky differences. The lines do blur between the two, causing more of a Venn diagram than two sides of a coin. With both sides having the same end goal at the end of the day, promoting a mental well-being, exactly what makes them so different from each other?
To start, those that are not in support of a sex-positive culture do not actually have to put forth much effort to change people’s view on the matter. In a place like the Bible Belt, it is not a normal conversation to have. Sex is portrayed as a sacred institution that is reserved for only those in love and locked in matrimony. While many from a young age go against this belief, they are in turn scorned and brought back to the light of truth, so to speak. There is no mention of what exactly happened, there is no curiosity for it, it is not a question that would come up even between friends.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can cause some repression in time. Individuals can grow up with a morbid curiosity toward this dark side of the world, but too afraid of what their peers may think of them to even use a search engine. The key idea behind this is not to instill a regret of what could have been but to explain that it is not this huge thing that it may seem. It has a tendency to backfire, but many noble ideas do. That does not deter this society though, it is just more to work on. None of this is to demonize the Bible Belt in any way, shape, or form. It is to bring light to an issue that should be further discussed as it has developed a stigma that is not necessary for the least.
Their goal to bring a more positive outlook on the sanctity of marriage and sex has become a norm in modern day society. However, with an abstinence-only sexual education, this has slowly lowered the average age of first-time marriages as opposed to outside the Bible Belt (Garcia and Daniel 2010). This could have something to do with a finding that shows a dramatic increase in sexual activity because of its prohibition. (Fisher 2004). This custom is centuries old for the United States, as it was originally created by Puritans, people who were protesting Protestant England over religious views.
A centuries-old belief is rooted in noble intentions; however, these intentions have skewed and evolved harmful environments. SAGA, or Sexuality and Gender Awareness, is a group centered around the well-being of LGBT+ and heterosexual students and helping them accept they can be who they are and good Christians. They consistently fight an uphill battle against many who would describe themselves as more devout followers. This struggle has even gone so far to paint heterosexual Christians in a bad light and raise a society where it is not okay to be anything but heterosexual, risking eternal damnation.
There has become a stereotypical belief from these sorts of places that gender and sexuality are hardwired together and that fitting into everything that’s going on is more important than the needs of the individual. As false as that may be, it’s the culture; however, there are people that are doing what they can to bring harmony and balance across the field in the Bible Belt, even if the belief was to stay, such as being gay but still waiting to be married. The noble intention stays in the hopes of focusing on other things and letting intercourse develop on its own as a person moves through their life.
Outside the Bible Belt, the rest of the country and even the world has picked up the ball on the subject of sex. There’s even a center for sex-positive culture based out of Seattle, WA that is actually called The Center for Sex Positive Culture. They have a subsequent Foundation for Sex Positive Culture whose mission is to “move society past tolerance into acceptance of consensual sexuality as a healthy, integral part of being human. We support people in finding the type and amount of sexual pleasure that is right for them, respecting the spectrum from asexual to omnisexual. We aim to create a better world by promoting respectful interaction through consent education” (FSPC). So it would appear that the Bible Belt has a transparent, very real opponent on the subject of sexual freedom.
This visualizes a life without repression of inner desire, but education in the aspect to negate harmful effects that ignorance and repression can cause. As the center’s mission states, they tailor to the entire sexuality spectrum. This means that yes, even those that are simply heterosexual supporters are still welcome in the capacity of the foundation. Everyone is welcome, everyone is encouraged to seek education in every facet incepted. Their main opponent is not actually the Bible Belt, but the fundamentalist belief of sex being sacred and reserved. In the eyes of the center and foundation, sex is more of a stage than an institution; the actors and actresses need to know their parts rather than jumping blindly into the performance.
This has actually become proven in other countries as a good idea. For example in the Netherlands, the 2009 teen birth rate was 5.3 per thousand as opposed to the United States’ 39.1 (Henderson 2012), a shockingly low number. This stems from the Netherlands societal norm for comprehensive sexual education. Other countries have even followed suit such as Switzerland, France, and Germany. Back to the United States, more places like the CSPC are becoming more apparent. SexPositiveWorld has chapters sprouting up in major cities in the United States and around the world with the same goal in mind.
The two beliefs are not black and white or sides of a coin. They are actually fairly similar in nature. They both aim to maintain a healthy lifestyle rich with fulfillment. Both sides are gearing themselves toward mental well-being. While they do differ in the delivery of sexual education, they both support an ignorance-free environment. It is not just the Bible Belt either; other places in the United States also have bad apples that create a hostile environment, and both sides tend to find the violence abhorrent.
There may not be one singular answer to the culture of sex in the U.S. but both sides are doing what they can to protect each other while maintaining their beliefs. A middle ground would be nice to reach as opposed to a perceived free-for-all versus pulling the wool over the eyes of teens. As other issues are brought up, maybe starting on a fundamental norm such as this should be discussed first. Scale the issues back to fundamentals and work from there instead of letting them fall by the wayside. As far as sex goes, it may continue to be a touchy subject in society, but that should not detract an individual from thinking they should express their own identity, and both sides do see that.
Garcia, Justin R., and Daniel J. Kruger. “Unbuckling in the Bible Belt: Conservative Sexual Norms Lower Age at Marriage.” Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology, vol. 4, no. 4, 2010, pp. 206–214., doi:10.1037/h0099288.
Fisher, H. E. (2004). Why We Love: The nature and chemistry of romantic love. New York: Holt.
Henderson, Alex. “5 Countries That Do It Better: How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place.” Alternet, 4 Apr. 2012, 0400, www.alternet.org/story/154970/5_countries_that_do_it_better%3A_how_sexual_prudery_makes_america_a_less_healthy_and_happy_place.
“About the FSPC.” Foundation for Sex Positive Culture, thefspc.org/about/.