Do cultural norms overpower sexual attraction?

Sexual attraction is surely one of the strongest forces intrinsic to humans, but is it possible that the external force of cultural trends can suppress, or even eliminate it?

This is one of the tangents my year 12 class and I found ourselves on today during a discussion about themes of identity and family in a play we have recently seen.

We noted that, with the exception of a minority that feeds the pages of New Idea magazine, sexual attraction between consenting, adult family members, in Australia, is rare. We could be led to believe that this is because it is fundamentally immoral, but historically and cross-culturally this is not seen to be the case.

Marriage of first cousins is, in fact (and unbeknownst to me until today) legal in Australia, the UK and 19 states of America. It is however, highly stigmatized. My class and I noted that this cultural stigma is so powerful that if we were to meet and be attracted to someone, and later find out that they were actually our cousin, the attraction would immediately subside.

I found it interesting to read that the “practice of marrying your siblings is now archaic (not to mention extremely icky)” and I wondered where this ‘ickiness’ comes from.

Of course genetic concerns regarding procreation play a role in the social stigma, but I found it interesting to consider the idea that a person’s sexual attractions can be curbed or influenced by the trends of their culture.

 

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A Different Look at the Garbage Man…

662916_88280650When I was growing up, if you’d have asked me what was the lowest and least of all jobs, I’d probably have said ‘garbage collector.’

If you’d asked me again as an adult, I’d have been more diplomatic. I’d probably have spouted some jargon about every job being valuable and any aspiration being noble, but really I was just being politically correct. I mean, seriously, what a horrible job. Sure, someone has to do it, but surely not anyone I know.

Shame on me for my ignorance and stigmatising.

I have to say, that my mind has been drastically changed by the simple viewing of a TED talk. Robin Nagle challenged my stereotypes of garbage collection and radically reversed them. Never have I been so appreciative of those faithful people in that humble industry who are the lifeblood of our civilized society.

We have taken sanitation for granted for so long, we can hardly imagine the consequences of a society in which it doesn’t exist. We hold professionals such as doctors and nurses in high regard, crediting them with the management of our health and well-being, all the while forgetting how much we owe to those who are our first line of defense in the prevention of sickness and disease.

Have a watch of Nagle’s clip, and gain a new appreciation for these men and women who work tirelessly and often thanklessly behind the scenes.