All Articles Tagged "taboo"
The last image a young woman wants to have when losing her virginity is a vision of her father. But for the hundreds of young girls who participate in purity balls each year, decisions about sexuality are heavily influenced by the protective presence of their fathers.
Recently, the popular National Geographic Channel show Taboo featured a segment on the episode “Teen Sex” about the practice of purity balls. A purity ball is a formal dance or ceremony attended by fathers and their daughters where the young women pledge their virginity to the protection of their fathers until they are married. The fathers then pledge to safe keep what they see as their young daughters’ “purity of mind, body and soul.” The practice is closely associated with evangelical Christian churches and originated by Randy Wilson in Colorado Springs in 1998. A field director for the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian organization, Wilson promotes purity balls across the country and his website boasts that they have been held in 48 states.
Before I get into how purity balls can easily take a left turn down a double-standard dead end, in their defense, purity balls send a lot of positive messages. I could never imagine being able to come to my father and have an honest, un-awkward conversation about sexuality and relationships. In fact, for most young American girls, their father’s reaction to them being sexually active is one of two extremes: Your crazy daddy chasing boys out your bedroom window with his sawed off Smith and Wesson not far off; or what is an even worse reality for many girls: Daddy not being there at all to care. The purity balls on this episode featured fathers taking a very active involvement in their daughter’s honor and well-being and treating them as the treasures that every little girl should feel like she is to the first man in her life that defines to her what a man should be for a woman. As one of the fathers on the episode stated, “The man sets the moral compass for the entire family.” Wilson goes even further emphasizing that purity balls are more about the fathers than they are the daughters. “The idea was to model what the relationship can be as a daughter grows from a child to an adult. You come in closer, become available to answer whatever questions she has,” Wilson offers to fathers struggling to find a place in the lives of their maturing daughters.
But even with the best intentions in the world, the whole purity ball ceremony is honestly kind of creepy when played out. The girls march to an altar in a procession of mini child brides alongside their fathers dressed in somber suits. The dads then descend on bended knee placing purity rings on their daughter’s left hands. The compliant girls adoringly gaze down in white dresses promising to remain abstinent until marriage. What was also slightly unnerving for me is how young the girls appeared to be. The youngest girls appeared to be all of 9 or 10 years old and I’m still not convinced that they are 100 percent sure of what they are actually signing up for. As they slow-dragged their feet in tune with their fathers, their expressions were vacant and apathetic, not passionate and empowered like young women convinced of their moral path. Some guidelines state that girls can be as young as four years old and as old as college age, but the majority of young girls who participate do so once they’ve entered puberty. At an age where young girls are debating the decision of tampon or pad, making a semi-permanent pledge about virginity could be seen as an unnecessary amount of pressure.
For sex to be such a “taboo” topic in the black community as RHOA’s Kandi Burruss says, she sure had no problem discussing it with Bethenny Frankel on the reality television star’s talk show Bethenny.
Kandi came on the show to talk about her line of sex toys and why black men don’t like vibrators, and according to NecoleBitchie.com
“When Bethenny asked Kandi how she became a voice for black women who wanted to be more liberated when it comes to sex, she responded:
Well the crazy thing is I didn’t try to make it a race issue. I think because I’m black, obviously, I had a lot of people come up to me and say “Did you realize you’re the face of black women being more liberated and talking about sex,” and I didn’t realize that until now. In our community, that black community, it is very hush hush to talk about sex. Everything is hush hush, like you can’t talk about that.
Bethenny also asked Kandi about the stereotype of black men not liking toys in the bedroom and Kandi responded:
Black men a lot of times are not down with that at all because it’s this whole thing of ‘Black men are supposed to be swinging,’ which a lot of them are not! But they feel like ‘You don’t need that, I’m handling things around here.’ A lot of times men are pretty much guaranteed to get the “AHHHHH” moment. We don’t always get the “AHHHHH” moment every single time. So if we don’t get that every single time, why can’t we get a little bit of extra…?”
Sex doesn’t seem to be as much “taboo” a topic as it is just intimate. There are some things you don’t have to talk about on national television. Keeping certain topics to yourself doesn’t make those things negative, it just makes them private. I don’t understand how she figures black people don’t talk about sex anyway. What alternate universe does Kandi live in? From my view, it seems that is all black music, movies, magazines, reality shows and Black Twitter talk about lately. If anything, in our current culture of overshare, privacy itself is taboo.
What do you think? Is Kandi right about sex being “hush hush” in the black community?
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One thing to keep in mind when looking at this ad is that it wasn’t made for an American audience.
The Durex condom advertisement runs in India and promotes a birth control/STD barrier that is so thin it could leave a woman questioning whether a condom was used or not—as shown.
In the cultural subtext of India, sex is not discussed nearly as openly as it is here in the Western world, so the idea is that a man and woman probably wouldn’t talk to each other about protection but if the woman happened to see the condom wrapper, box, etc. she’d be pleasantly surprised to learn he used one, despite the fact that it wasn’t detectible.
Durex group manager for marketing and branding Vishal Vyas told Audience Matters, explained, “There is still a lack of education as sex is a taboo topic in India. People are opening up and talking about it as family planning, and sexually transmitted diseases have become major issues. We are and will always aim to spread the message of safe and responsible sex.”
Still a few sites—albeit American—have knocked the ad, saying pregnancy and STDs are not pleasant surprises any woman wants to receive and that there’s nothing cute about not knowing whether you’ve put yourself at risk for any of the above.
At the very least, the ad is clever in marketing the ultra-thinness of it’s product, but in a culture where people aren’t talking about something that they should in order to protect their sexual and reproductive health, I don’t think think giving them more reasons not to talk about it is the best route. But at the end of the day, sex education isn’t Durex’s job, they want to sell a product that gives people a feeling of security without the feeling of latex, and that’s what this does.
Do you think the ad sends the wrong message? Could it ever work in the United States?
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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Inter-office dating has always been taboo. Emotionally charged as romantic relationships tend to be, it’s hard for many to keep a professional demeanor over the water cooler. But with almost 20 percent more singles in the workplace then ten years ago, some employers are turning their heads to office romances and they’re popping up everywhere.