This is very odd. I’ve just read a news story from Reuters dated November 16, 2009, but the opening sentence doesn’t describe the United States anytime in the last 30 years or so:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – American squeamishness about talking about sex has helped keep common sexually transmitted infections far too common, especially among vulnerable teens, U.S. researchers reported Monday.
Latest statistics on chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis show the three highly treatable infections continue to spread in the United States.
“Chlamydia and gonorrhea are stable at unacceptably high levels and syphilis is resurgent after almost being eliminated,” said John Douglas, director of the division of sexually transmitted diseases at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“We have among the highest rates of STDs of any developed country in the world,” Douglas added in a telephone interview.
“American squeamishness about talking about sex”?
This must have fallen through a wormhole from the 1950s or 1960s. Maybe, maybe, in some parts of America this was still true in the 1970s. If there is anything that Americans are squeamish about, it isn’t “talking about sex” — endlessly, in print, too loudly on cell phones in public places, in comedy routines, television, and movies. And pretty obviously, Americans aren’t just talking about sex, or we wouldn’t be having this STD problem.
We live in a society about as open and insistent about talking about sex and having sex as any society in history. Even Roman society could not have been much more willing to talk about sex than ours is. It is a continual source of discussion in endless varieties, variations, and styles in America today.
The distribution of those STDs isn’t exactly even across American society, suggesting that this “squeamishness” isn’t even distributed. The article reports that:
Blacks, who represent 12 percent of the U.S. population, accounted for about 71 percent of reported gonorrhea cases and almost half of all chlamydia and syphilis cases in 2008. … Black women 15 to 19 had the highest rates of chlamydia and gonorrhea.
I guess that the “squeamishness” about talking about sex is especially severe in the black community. Rap music, for example, dominated by black performers and supposedly an “authentic” cultural expression of black America, must never talk about sex! And that’s the problem, isn’t it?