Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

For discussion of issues pertaining to sexuality. Warning: Topics within this forum may contain frank discussion of a sexual nature.
Jicragg
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Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Jicragg » Fri Oct 08, 2010 10:37 am

After reading some posts on AVEN, I have become confused.

Simply that people feel dirty after having sexual thoughts or dreams and I don't understand. To me 'dirty' implies a negative and why is it negative? Dreams you can't control so beating yourself up for those would be rather illogical and the thoughts... In some ways to have a degree to control over those, that you can push thoughts aside when you're trying to do something else or you can rationalise feelings into other thoughts.

This obviously isn't just an asexual community thing, but why?

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Dargon
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Dargon » Fri Oct 08, 2010 11:10 am

If I had to fathom a guess, religion. All the Abrahamic religions teach sex is something that in most cases is sinful. Hell, most teach that simple sexual thoughts, in most cases, are sinful. From there it became a social norm, ingrained in most people since before they know what their parts actually do.

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Siggy
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Siggy » Fri Oct 08, 2010 1:17 pm

On the other hand, religious values don't just fall from the sky. They come from the cultures that found and develop the religion.

Why is sex dirty? Why is it anything? Why is it intimate, sinful, spiritual, shameful, awesome, and crude?

I was going to advance a theory, but then it occurred to me that I just have no clue what I'm talking about.

pretzelboy
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby pretzelboy » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:38 pm

While I lack a definitive answer, it is a matter I've thought about from time to time. In certain groups, there is a tendency to blame religion (or certain religions) for the idea that sex is dirty. To me, this seems myopic, and little more than at attempt to justify one's sexual ideology in spite of reality.

A few observations: sex is not the only thing that is "dirty" or the only thing that is taboo to talk about. Poop, pee, and (to a lesser extent) are also dirty. I suspect that it isn't simply their smell. They are also things that (for people) are done in private. I have a suspicion that some of the dirtiness surrounding sex is related.

In [url=http://www.bapfelbaumphd.com/Sexual_Reality.html]Sexual Reality and How We Dismiss It[/ulr], the author is talking about professional sex videos from the 70's that tried to counter-act the idea that sex is dirty, and relied on an idea that sex would be great if people could only get over negative learning about it.

There is no evidence of any thought being given to why sex may be considered dirty. The idea is that our guilt about sex and our sexual inhibitions are a historical accident, a vestige of our Puritan and Victorian heritage that has no basis in reality.

The thinking here is slipshod to the point of capriciousness. Sex guilt and sexual inhibitions are world-wide. The sexual restrictions found in China, India, and Russia can hardly be traced to the Puritans and the Victorians. Even the Church Fathers did not originate sex guilt. Indeed, Augustine, in his City of God (Book XIV, Chapter 18), argued that he saw evidence of sexual shame all around him (he at least did not dismiss sexual reality, even if he took it too much at face value), and that it was this rather than some purely supernal vision that led him to conclude that sex is inherently shameful.

No one has yet offered a way to reasonably comprehend the idea that sex is dirty. It seems to me that the best way to comprehend it is to think of it as a reaction to the exploitive side of sex, a not inconsiderable side of sexual reality. In this light the counter-dogma that sex is OK (not dirty) represents a laundering of sexual reality.


I suspect that there is a lot to be said for this, though I have a suspicion that there is more to it than just these two issues.

fridayoak
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby fridayoak » Fri Oct 08, 2010 2:59 pm

My ex (who is sexual) had a sort of phobia about oral sex in that she thought it was dirty (like literally unhygenic) for me to go down on her. She also used to change her knickers 2 or 3 days a time, like if she went anywhere she'd carry a spare pair with her. I never completely understood it but she, although not religious, did go to a cathelic school so maybe that had something to do with it and maybe just a sort of hygeine obsession cos there's a link with pee pee (and I know it's not the exact same hole but the whole area in general) and sweat and such. But in general it beats me.

Sally
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Sally » Fri Oct 08, 2010 8:23 pm

Judaism and Islam don't teach that sexual thoughts/dreams are dirty. Some versions of Christianity seem to, those which teach that the "evil" of sex stems from Eve eating the apple. Most cultures seem to proscribe sex at certain times of womens' cycles (fear of blood) and married women (because then men can't tell if they're the fathers of the womens' children). So I think sex is considered dirty because of a combination of cultural stories and fears and lack of scientific knowledge, rather than religion per se.

ElectricSheepDreams
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby ElectricSheepDreams » Sat Oct 09, 2010 3:13 am

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Last edited by ElectricSheepDreams on Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Mage
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Mage » Sat Oct 09, 2010 8:59 pm

Even strict atheists will call sex dirty, in my experience. It's become a cultural norm to say thing like, "doing the dirty," or being "naughty," even among sex positive people. Um, I kind of understand how the associations were originally made, but I dunno why people won't just cut it out. It's rather offensive.

Also, I think it's kind of subversive and cool to be asexual and refuse to describe sex as dirty! Defy expectations and stereotypes! Assert that you don't want to describe sex as dirty by interrupting other people when they describe sex as such, and see what happens.
"If I didn't define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people's fantasies for me and eaten alive.”
—Audre Lorde

My blog: http://acefeminisms.blogspot.com

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Dargon
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Dargon » Sun Oct 10, 2010 6:30 pm

Mage wrote:Even strict atheists will call sex dirty, in my experience. It's become a cultural norm to say thing like, "doing the dirty," or being "naughty," even among sex positive people. Um, I kind of understand how the associations were originally made, but I dunno why people won't just cut it out. It's rather offensive.


They also often still say "bless you" if you sneeze. That's simply sticking with the cultural language, and in this case, the slang. It does not reflect actual values.

Expanding on the religion thing, the origins of sex being dirty in religion is quite debatable, though I rather like Dawkins' idea of memes to describe this one. In this specific case, guilt associated with (non-procreative) sex actually helps strengthen a religion. Those that place that guilt with such a strong, hard to resist (for most) biological urge end up with the people repeatedly coming back for forgiveness. Those that don't have that guilt don't have the people coming back, and thus don't propagate as well.

As for Sally's comment, I cannot speak for Judiasm or Islam, but the majority of Christian churches I am familiar with teach that so much as thinking of sex or masturbating is sinful. The most liberal of the churches I am familiar with permit non-procreative sex in marriage and contraception, but still forbid pre-marital sex, fantasy, and masturbation.

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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby disjointed » Tue Oct 12, 2010 2:14 am

to many get to prissy about sex

it is what it is and it must be good or so many people wouldn't do it

so when you see the ewwwww ther thought of it makes me cringe...I understand through life events some are repulsed

but for many i can't help thinking..drama queen..get over it

if i don't like brussel sprouts do i have to eww everytime i see or hear about one?...no..i just don't eat one

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Dargon
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby Dargon » Tue Oct 12, 2010 5:42 pm

disjointed wrote:if i don't like brussel sprouts do i have to eww everytime i see or hear about one?...no..i just don't eat one


Amen, dijointed. Furthermore, if one does not like brussel sprouts, one can often avoid the kitchen if one is aware they are being prepared there, rather than barging in and expressing one's distaste.

fridayoak
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby fridayoak » Wed Oct 13, 2010 3:42 am

Actually I do find brussel sprouts pretty repulsive but it's the smell as well so it's impossible to avoid if other people in your house are cooking and eating them. Luckily the only time I have this problem is when I'm back home on Christmas Day; my Mum cooks them cos my Dad likes them. So I guess to extend the analogy it would be kinda like complaining about having to listen to your parents (or anyone really) having sex in the same house as you.

pretzelboy
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Re: Why are sexual thoughts called 'dirty'?

Postby pretzelboy » Thu Oct 14, 2010 6:21 am

Sally wrote:Judaism and Islam don't teach that sexual thoughts/dreams are dirty. Some versions of Christianity seem to, those which teach that the "evil" of sex stems from Eve eating the apple. Most cultures seem to proscribe sex at certain times of womens' cycles (fear of blood) and married women (because then men can't tell if they're the fathers of the womens' children). So I think sex is considered dirty because of a combination of cultural stories and fears and lack of scientific knowledge, rather than religion per se.

I suspect that a lot of the misinformation about what various religions teach about sex stems from what sex "educators" say about them--they don't tend to be especially well informed regarding religion, and (certain) religious people/groups tends to be among their strongest political opponents, which doesn't necessarily incline them to be sympathetic.

several years ago, I was reading the textbook Our Sexuality, which is supposed to be one of the best out there, and they had a section on religion and it was absolutely awful. They cited the position of Augustine of Hippo and from that abstracted that this was the position of Christianity and Judiasm. Generalizing the position of one North African Christian of the early 4th century to all North African Christians of the early 4th century is absurd. And generalizing it to Christianity over two millinia in many, many different cultures, on several continents, blows the mind. And then generalizing it to another religion (even one that is historically related), is just...WTF?

They later cited that chapter as saying things that they didn't say in that chapter, and...wow.