Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Incomprehensible Sexual Dysfunction of Americans

"Americans are the worst, both at having affairs and dealing with the aftermath. Adultery crises in America last longer, cost more, and seem to inflict more emotional torture than they do anyplace I visited."

So says Pamela Druckerman, a former Wall Street Journal reporter who for several years travelled the world to chart international patterns of infidelity. Her findings will be published next month in her book, Lust in Translation. Given that Druckerman believes other cultures and societies handle infidelity significantly better than Americans, her book promises either to be controversial or largely ignored.

Whatever the case, the book should be interesting to those of us who ponder the incomprehensible sexual dysfunction of Americans, or the always-just-seething-below-the-surface sexual hysteria that accompanies it. We Americans can put a man on the moon -- a feat we are rightfully proud of -- but we cannot quite shake ourselves of our dysfunctional sexual culture.

As recently as 2000, we led the Western world in nearly every category of sexual problem, from teen pregnancy through domestic violence and on to rape and incest, according to the World Health Organization. Since then, I haven't seen any studies that suggest much has changed about our leadership role. America basically ranks as a third world nation when it comes to sexuality.

There will never in this country be the brilliant equivalent of a science based moon program to deal with our sexual problems. Americans simply are not that serious about solving their sexual problems. If we were serious, passionately serious, we would solve them. We have the resources to do it. We lack only the will.


Brendan said...

Imagine how many of the things complained about by people who are uptight about sex would greatly improve if our culture started approaching sexuality in a healthy fashion rather than by way of denial and repression. Teen pregnancy, abortion, divorce, domestic violence, alcohol and drug abuse, suicide, rape and incest . . .

Mystic Wing said...

I agree that it's largely collective repression that causes our woes in this arena. We Americans peculiarly take sex far more seriously than other cultures, where sex is just sex and receives neither worship nor fear.

Denying our sexuality with all our might, we are therefore utterly controlled by it.

Excuse me while I go off to rub myself a little.

jacquie4000 said...

Well Brendan maybe we should offer them a good glass of wine to lighten up a little bit. But seriously you are very correct, it is so very simple but we make it so hard.

Paul said...

Hi Brendan!

I believe the cultural change you speak of is necessary if we ever are to have a generally healthy sexuality in this country. Yet, cultures don't always change. I don't know whether I'm optimistic or pessimistic or somewhere in between on this issue. Do you think we'll ever change?

Hi Mystic!

I would have responded earlier, but I was busy rubbing myself.

"Denying our sexuality with all our might, we are therefore controlled by it."

Joseph Campbell once said, "the gods we deny become demons." And you know how demons like to possess people. A sex therapist once told me some of her more religiously minded clients actually believe that when they masturbate, it's the work of the devil making them do it.

Hmmmm... I shouldn't have thought of masturbation: Ill have to excuse myself again.

Hi Jacquie!

I agree we make the simple hard. But why do you think we do that? What motivates us to do it?