Politics Magazine

Is The United States Still A "Puritanical" Country ?

Posted on the 19 February 2015 by Jobsanger

There is no doubt that prior to the late 1960's, the United States was a "puritanical" country. Nudity and sex were topics that could not be discussed openly, and were almost non-existent in our TV programs and movies. The counter-culture movement of the late 1960's and 1970's changed that somewhat with their "free love" movement (spurred on by widespread access to modern birth control methods, primarily the "pill").
Our society has loosened somewhat, with nudity, sex, and dirty words now appearing more on television and in the movies -- but that has been limited to cable television, with broadcast television still struggling to catch up. And even the movies still have a rating system to please the anti-nudity and anti-sex fundamentalists.
Recently, a novel has swept the country that examines the BDSM scene (bondage, dominance, sadism, masochism) -- 50 Shades of Grey. The book became a huge best-seller, and has now been made into a movie (that is breaking box office records). And perhaps most surprising, the book is extremely popular among the christian community (even the fundamentalist christians) -- the community most responsible for our past puritanism.
This brings up an interesting question -- Are we no longer a puritanical country? A new YouGov Poll tried to answer that question. They queried a random national sample of 1,000 adults on February 10th and 11th (and their survey has a margin of error of 4.4 points). The charts in this post were made from information in that survey.
If you just look at the two charts above, you would certainly get the impression that the United States is still a very puritanical country. Overwhelming majorities say they have never participated in any BDSM sexual encounters. And only a slightly larger minority say they would like to do so in the future.
But before you jump to that conclusion look at the chart below. When these same people were asked whether our society should discourage sexual practices like BDSM, huge majorities said they should NOT be discouraged! And that feeling spanned both sexes, all ages, and all races (and although I didn't put include them in the chart, it also included all income levels and political persuasions, including 58% of Republicans).
It turns out that while most won't admit to engaging in BDSM sexual encounters (or wanting to do that), they aren't opposed to those sexual encounters. I don't think that would have been the opinion of the majority even a quarter of a century ago.
Are we still a puritanical nation? I would have to say yes, but not nearly as puritanical as we used to be -- and it is changing fast. That's a good thing. Society (i.e., government) needs to stay out of our bedrooms, and anything should be permissible -- as long as it is consensual and no one gets hurt.

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