The Complexity of Sex in a Complex Culture

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The Complexity of Sex in a Complex Culture

Sex is a universal irony. Modern society is bombarded by sexual images yet the definition of sex is much more hidden. The words "sex," "love making, and "sexual relations" may be perceived differently from one person to the next. Sex is an abstract word, difficult to define because of a taboo in America against publicly discussing the issue. Thus, because the topic of sex is discussed among friends privately more often than publicly, a certain personal language evolves among individuals when discussing sex. When sexual language is used publicly ambiguities are developed. Culture also plays a key role in how specific individuals define sex. Political, anthropological, and social debates occur because of ambiguous terms and cultural differences regarding sex, as well as because social taboos do not always dictate behavior.

Margaret Mead, in her anthropology essay Sex in Samoa, claims that the Samoan adolescent girls experienced sexual freedom and love-making. Differences, in the Samoan and American cultures regarding sex, caused the debate over the credibility of Mead's findings. Today, imprecise and unfamiliar terminology used in the Clinton Sex Scandal creates political debates. Analyzing adolescents in today's culture demonstrates that American culture, like the Samoans is very complex, and that this complexity can create debates regarding defining sex in society.

Today, Americans use the word "sex" as an abbreviation for the term "sexual intercourse." In this way, the word "sex" can almost be considered slang. The Dictionary of English Slang and Unconventional English states "sex, by 1975, has been used to distinguish be...

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...anguage and culture play an important role in the definition.

For decades people have stumbled over the question "what counts as sex?" There is no one answer for it depends on language and culture. Debates such as the Mead controversy and the Clinton scandal, demonstrates that sex is a personal, informal topic, that when made public, creates disagreements regarding the definition of sexual terms. These debates also demonstrate that society can influence, not guide, the citizen's sexual actions. Until sex is regularly discussed publicly, there will always disagreements. Maybe this ambiguity is what makes sex so fascinating.

Works Cited

Patridge, E. (1984). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Oxford University Press. (1998). The Oxford Essential Ditionary. New York: BarkleyBooks.

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