Perspectives regarding sexual morality vary by person and culture. What may be acceptable in one culture could result in a prison sentence in another. For example, homosexuality has become socially acceptable in the U.S. and polygamy is largely practiced in Saudi Arabia while each is illegal and socially unacceptable in the other country. It’s only natural to view the way other cultures approach sexual matters as strange because they are out of the ordinary the same as their food, music and religion among various other cultural differences. The subject of sex is personal and a standard of morality for most cultures. When a culture’s food is different it’s considered an adventure in dining but when sexual tolerances differ this becomes a moral judgment on an entire society. Before passing a verdict perhaps it’s beneficial to look inward, to objectively examine if the one’s own culture is uncomfortably sexually permissive or oppressively restrictive. It depends on who is asked but using an arbitrary mean average of world opinion, it’s clear the American culture, generally speaking, is certainly not sexually restrictive and has been gradually becoming more permissive since at least since 1960’s.
The world’s many cultures all have unique views on what is considered sexually acceptable or unacceptable and under what context. To determine if America is permissive compared to the world, the extremes of other nations should first be found. Saudi Arabia is famous for being sexually restrictive. Women cover their entire body when outside and cannot go out without a male escort. No dancing, singing or any unnecessary jiggling is allowed because it’s sexually suggestive. Several American television commercials would be considered pornography in Saudi along with many other countries. Bikinis are considered swimwear in America and an outrageous display of nudity punishable by imprisonment in others. The European culture is commonly considered sexually permissive. The nude beaches of Spain and France along with legal, open red light districts of the Netherlands and Germany illustrate the permissiveness. Given these extremes, America is decidedly nearer Europe than Saudi Arabia.
The quickest and maybe the most effective means of judging the sexual permissiveness of a culture is to scrutinize its popular media content which is a reflection of that culture …or the other way around. Examining the degree and amount of sexuality accessible on television, suggestive language and innuendo on the radio, printed publications including centerfolds and a range of music lyrics gives a comprehensible picture, albeit a snapshot, of what a culture will accept as tolerable. In America numerous examples of what the average American would judge as provocative is abundant in all these media conduits. Television, even discounting cable soft porn, pay per view adult movies and beach volleyball, is a constant barrage of sexy physical forms and vocal sexual overtones. Magazines, those found in front of the sales counter, show models in light swimwear and cleavage with no apparent connection to a story while weekly tabloids claim fake infidelities. American music lyrics including rock, rap, blues and country contain lyrics that would make anyone blush if heard while in the company of their mother. The media reflects American sexual permissiveness while the American culture encourages the media to show sexual explicitly.
Whether or not a person grew up and is accustomed to the American culture or not it’s apparent that it’s a sexually permissive society by any standard. String bikinis are the norm, porn is big business and prostitution is legal in some places. Daytime television has been known for its steamy sensual scenes for decades. Americans have become accustomed to and are largely immune to the sexual nature of their culture but comparatively, they are a very permissive society.