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How Sexual Prudery Makes America a Less Healthy and Happy Place

To extreme social conservatives of the far right, the word “prude” is not an insult — it’s a badge of honor. “Prudes,” they would argue, should be upheld as exemplary role models because a sexually repressive society is also a society with fewer unplanned pregnancies and fewer sexually transmitted diseases. But not only do the facts not bear that out, they also demonstrate that the exact opposite is true. Countries that embrace many of the things social conservatives detest (comprehensive sex education, pro-gay legislation, nude or topless beaches, legal or decriminalized prostitution, adult entertainment) tend to be countries that have less sexual dysfunction than the United States, not more. And when one compares sexual attitudes in the United States to sexual attitudes in Western Europe, it becomes evident that there is a strong correlation between social conservatism and higher rates of teen pregnancy, abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.

The Christian Right would consider the following five European countries to be quite “permissive” when compared to the United States. All of them make a strong case for social liberalism and sexual openness.

1. The Netherlands

The Netherlands has a reputation for being one of the most pro-sex countries in the world, and it isn’t hard to understand why. From comprehensive sex education to legal prostitution (Amsterdam has one of Europe’s most famous red light districts) to nude and topless beaches, the Netherlands is a social conservative’s worst nightmare. On top of that, the Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize gay marriage (the Netherlands legalized same-sex civil unions in 1998 and gay marriage in 2001). But while Rick Santorum would no doubt view Amsterdam and Rotterdam as a modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, the reality is that all that sexual openness is having positive results in the Netherlands. Sociologist Amy Schalet (author of “Not Under My Roof: Parents, Teens and the Culture of Sex” and a professor at the University of Massachusetts) has done extensive sex-related research on the United States and the Netherlands, often asserting that Americans would be much better off if they had the sexual openness of the Dutch.

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TAGGED: GENERAL INTEREST, SECULARISM, SEXUALITY


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