European Nudes and American Prudes

28.7.10

"Regimen is superior to medicine."  (Voltaire)

In Sweden, July is vacation month, well, put it this way, it is for much of Europe.  A concept that is completely foreign to my American mind. Month long vacations are unheard of in the United States, unless you're a student or on disability, and I wouldn't really call disability a vacation.Various shops and small business owners shamelessly, and with great pride, post signs on their doors stating, "closed for the summer." Rock on. I like this European attitude (smile).

Living in Europe there are innumerable common factors in comparison to living in America. Simple fact. It's not like going to India, or other parts of Asia, where much in regards to life and culture scream contrast. On the other hand, there are subtle differences beneath the surface. In America, we celebrate our "freedom." However, why are we so uptight? I can say this because I'm American (and at times, uptight). Ok. 

After reading the following article, European Nudes and American Prudes, by travel guru Rick Steves, it got me thinking. For one, when it centers around our bodies and sex we don't stand a chance. In Europe, nudity isn't a big a deal. I've seen bare ass on regular television commercials as if common place. No, they weren't infants, but grown adults. On normal t.v. shows and movies, on regular channels, it isn't a big deal to see a woman's breasts or even full frontal nudity both male and female. It's never done distastefully or for shock value, it just is. In many ways Europeans on the whole seem to be more comfortable with their bodies. Why is that? Why is there such a disconnect with our bodies, and our sexuality in the United States?  Of course there are exceptions, but I'm talking about as a whole. We are more apt to accept inflated violence on television versus nudity. I don't get it.

When it comes to sex, I 'm not even sure I should go there. As Americans we tend to be convoluted in our thinking centered around the topic. It's no wonder people are confused. Oh well, I might as well go there. In Sweden, for instance, sex education has been in the schools since 1956. Wow. That's pretty darn progressive if you ask me. The curriculum starts at the age of 6 with basic anatomy then progresses from there at the age of 12 where topics are guided towards disease and contraception. Really, I don't see a problem with this. Especially since the percentage of teenage pregnancy is one of the lowest in Sweden compared to other developed countries. In America, we have one of the highest. Also, studies are showing that introducing sex education early doesn't equal teenagers having sex earlier. Duh. Swedish teenagers actually wait a bit longer than American teenagers. In my simple opinion, when open and not fearful over our natural biological states, what is there to worry about? I mean, really.

From a yogic perspective, sexual energy is simply a form of spiritual energy, inherent in all of us. It can be transformed into something beautiful. Through yoga and other energy practices it never has to be a scary thing or even nonspiritual, and in my eyes, how can anything which boils inside of use be that? We walk on sacred ground when connected from this place, and to suppress it does a great disservice. Honestly, suppression causes major problems, and opens a whole new can of worms.

I'm no expert on the topic, and with that being said, I find amusement in the stark differences in life and culture. It opens my perspective. Takes me out of a comfort zone and opens my eyes to something new. Then from here, I enter into a new place within myself, and just maybe release some of my uptightness.

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