Thursday 28 November 2013

Revising Our Attitude To Sex as Christianity Fades

Image: Sven Görlich/Plainpicture
UK sex survey highlights tolerance, diversity and abuse - health - 27 November 2013 - New Scientist

A survey into attitudes to sex published in The Lancet today highlights the demise of Christianity and the advance of secular humanism in Britain with a subsequently healthier, more tolerant and more considerate attitude to sex and sexuality. The survey, the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal) shows a marked change in attitudes towards a more tolerant, less censorious attitude to multiple parnerships and same-sex relationships but a reduced tolerance for infidelity. People are taking their responsibilities in a relationship more seriously but are less concerned about the sexual activities and preferences of others.

Sixteen percent of women now admit to sexual contact with another woman compared to just four percent in 1990. During the same period the average number of admitted opposite sex partners of women between the ages of 16 and 44 has more than doubled from an average of 3.7 to 7.7. For men the equivalent figures are 8.6 and 11.7 respectively but the figure for 2010 for men was down from 12.6 in 2000. It looks as though the figures for the number of life-time sexual partners are converging for men and women.

As a nation, we're thinking about a new ethical framework. We're having a debate about the kind of sex that does harm to people. So while we're happy now to accept oral sex, gay and anal sex, we're moving into discussion of sex that does harm to others.

Anne Johnson, University College London,
co-leader of the survey.
In 1990 only 22 percent of men considered homosexual relationships to be "not wrong at all", compared to 48 percent in 2010. Similar figures were found for women.

Figures which will no doubt shock and disappoint Christians who have long campaigned against liberalisation of attitudes to sex, claiming that it will lead to a sexual free for all and a breakdown in marital relationships and family life, are those measuring attitudes to infidelity. In 1990 only 44 percent of men thought that infidelity was "always wrong" compared to 63 percent in 2010.

So, now our increasing rejection of Christian guilt-ridden censoriousness over sex has allowed the subject of sex out of the closet, we are becoming less repressed, more adventurous, more willing to experiment and more likely to be sexually fulfilled. At the same time we are becoming more conscious of the need to be more considerate, more tolerant and above all more mindful of the fact that our sexual activities can actually be harmful to others. All in all, a kinder, more considerate and more caring society than that formerly imposed on us by an exclusively male, and often sexually repressed, predatory, even paedophilic, clergy using guilt and fear to do so, with all the associated mental health issues.

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  1. Hmmm... It will be interesting to see whether those trends continue. these things tend to fluctuate, don't they?

    But like with gay marriage leading naturally to legal squirrel/broom marriage, the predictions of skyfall don't generally materialize.

  2. Not everything fluctuates. Acceptance of gender and racial equality (including but not limited to the right to vote, for example) shows every sign of being permanent -- not pendulum-swings which will eventually swing back. After 40 years of stead progress, I think we can say the same of acceptance of gays. So too with the decline of religion -- it's increasingly clear that counter-movements like the Christian Right and jihadism represent the rage and frustration of those who know they're losing the culture war, not a broader social movement backward.

    Once people see that many ancient sexual taboos have no rational basis, that can't be undone.


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