Take the 2-minute tour ×
Cognitive Sciences Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for practitioners, researchers, and students in cognitive science, psychology, neuroscience, and psychiatry. It's 100% free, no registration required.

With sexualization, I mean the reaction that one has when seeing the desired sexual object. I guess that in some countries, their cultures may have softer reactions, while in others, a stronger reaction could even imply rape.

share|improve this question
1  
Could you elaborate a bit on what gives you the idea that sexual reactions differ over cultures? Have you witnessed or read anything that made you draw this conclusion? –  what Mar 29 at 22:17
1  
There certainly are studies, and there certainly are differences. I'd recommend trying the search terms, "sexuality cross cultural research". The first hit (Davis & Whitten, 1987) is an anthropological review of this research in general, but there's probably a lot of newer stuff out there. Care to narrow this down at all, or maybe to elaborate on what you're hoping to learn? –  Nick Stauner Mar 29 at 23:08
    
Also, Wikipedia has some good info. See this section of the cross-cultural psychology page and try searching for the word "culture" on the human sexuality page (which is – er...somewhat NSFW, I suppose). There's even a cultural studies section on the sexualization page! –  Nick Stauner Mar 29 at 23:19
    
@what Yes. I've seen a photo and a small article of a suposed visit of an anthropologist to a tribe in Namibia, I guess. The women there walk with their breasts exposed. In the small article, they said that in there, the breasts are not so sexualized as they are in our culture. This gave me the hint. –  Vladimir Putin Mar 30 at 13:55
    
@NickStauner Yes. I guess this gives me the base to start looking for. Thanks. –  Vladimir Putin Mar 30 at 13:57

1 Answer 1

Anthropologists have shown that all cultures have the same "amount" and "intensity" of modesty, shame and sexual excitability. What differs are clothing and behavioral habits, and therefore what is considered modest, what causes shame, and what causes sexual arousal.

The most extensive meta-analytic study on this topic is Hans-Peter Duerr's five volume Der Mythos vom Zivilisationsprozeß [The Myth of the Civilizing Process] (1988-2002), in which he collects and interprets ethnological, archaelogical and sociological research from all cultures and times regarding nudity and shame, intimity, obscenity and violence, eroticism, and defecation, in a reply to Norbert Elias' famous The Civilizing Process (1939).

You can think of the variation in modesty and sexualization over cultures as a border of the public display of the body that can be moved along a continuum from the eyes (burqa)

enter image description here

via the extremities (Victorians had to cover their legs)

enter image description here

more and more towards the center of the body (swimsuit)

enter image description here

narrowing down to the secondary sex characteristics (bikini)

enter image description here

the genitals (penis sheath or female modesty girdle [pictured below])

enter image description here

and finally the male glans (kynodesme) and the inside of the female labia

enter image description here

That peoples that live totally nude are not without shame and modesty can be seen from their social rules and the reactions to their transgression that Duerr reports. A telling example is how the girls of one naked tribe are not allowed to sit with their legs spread (so the insides of the labia don't become visible to the men), how the men attempt to catch a glimpse while the girls and women go about their day and react with excitement when they manage to see something forbidden, and how girls are being ridiculed if this happens. This is much the same as how we act with short skirts, the blowing wind and candid street photography.

Duerr lists page after page after page of research showing examples similar to this and to the one you gave in your comment (desexualized breasts). Unfortunately I don't know of a good English language overview so I can only recommend that you follow Nick's links and research tipps, if you want to get more deeply into this hotly debated area.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.