Sexuality in different cultures

Sexuality is something that in western culture, is a confusing and scandalous topic. In one way sex and sexuality is everywhere, in advertisements, magazines, television shows, movies, all types of media, however it is also something we are not supposed to talk about, especially women.

Here are a couple of examples of ads which exemplify the ways in which sex, and sexuality is used in ads in order to grab consumer’s attention and to cause their product to be more desirable.

In some cultures women have the power in sex, and express their sexuality freely, however in western societies, this does not seem to be the case. This going along with the double standard of sexuality and sexual expression between men and women that I talked about in my last post. The short story First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style in Lee Maracle’s “First Wive’s Club”, is a good example of a time and a culture in which women had sexual power, and expressed their sexuality openly. This short story contains a story which is meant to “teach women to use ‘weasel medicine’ to manipulate men to do the right thing by their families. It also teaches us about the power of women, their desire and their sexiness. It also grants sexual permission to women to engage their sexuality in a way that they see fit” (Maracle 6). In this story, it is clear that women have control of men and of their own sexual desires. They know how to get men, and how to get what they want from them. When the main character in the story first sees a man, “she decided she would have him. Now Salish women know how to capture a man. She turned her back on him and began singing an old love song. She leaned forward, butt sticking out, and rotated her hips, swaying them to the music of her song. Salish women know that Salish men love that little bumblebee dance of the hips. Sure enough he paddled ashore” (Maracle 7). Later in the story when the other women come along, and want a man as well, the woman decides to share her man, and the man is helpless to the other women’s tactics as well.

Lee Maracle compares the women in the story’s sexual openness with western culture. “Western society’s values have always confused me. On the one hand, sexiness in young women is desired. On the other hand, a women actually engaging in sex has been considered immoral for a long time” (Maracle 2). This idea makes it seem like women in western culture are supposed to be teases. Making men want them by acting sexy, and then not giving in to sex, because it would be immoral. This however also puts a bad name on women as well.

So sex is everywhere… but we are not supposed to do it… we are just supposed to look like we will do it. This is such a confusing message that women are getting in western culture. It is not wonder young girls are getting pregnant, and exploring their sexualities at younger ages. They are ashamed of what they are doing, because their culture has made them feel this way, so they are not open about their sexual experiences, and therefore may not be using birth control, or condoms. It is truly sad that women are so confused by their own culture that they are not sure how to, or when to express their sexuality.

The story says that “in the western world, men are expected to court women. In the Salish world, the adoption of this courtship tradition is in its infancy. In the original Salish cultures, it was the woman who chose the partners… If a woman desired a man and no marriage was in the offing for her, there was going to be an affair of the heart, because women were free to indulge in sexual activity if and when they pleased” (Maracle 4).

It seems as if this story the Salish women in it and the Salish women who are inspired by it have things better figured out than we do in western culture. They have the power in their sexual relationships, and embrace their sexuality, rather than hiding it or being ashamed of it. They are taught stories that tell them how to use and embrace their sexuality, and to give themselves power over their own sexual endeavors. As the story says, the fact that “women are burdened with the responsibility of looking sexy, [but] permission to engage in sex is a male prerogative… is changing slowly” (Maracle 3). This may be true, but I think it is going to take a while before women in western society are truly in touch with their sexuality, and can feel confident and not ashamed of themselves for embracing it.

Works Cited:

Maracle, Lee. “First Wives Club: Coast Salish Style.” First Wives Club. Maracle, Lee. Penticon, BC: Theytus Books, 2010. 1-12. Print.


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