Sexual Behaviour in Canada: Patterns and Problems

By Benjamin Schlesinger | Go to book overview

Attitudes and sexuality*

F. MICHAEL BARRETT

When Alex Comfort tells us in The Joy of Sex that 'the sense of play...is essential to a full, enterprising and healthily immature view of sex between committed people,' he is at one and the same time inviting us to indulge our 'playfulness' and conveying an attitude towards one aspect of our sexuality. The following quote, with similar conviction but somewhat less invitation, presents another attitude: 'Today's society is filled with all manner of sexual sin. Fornication (unmarried sex) probably heads the list. But it is followed closely by adultery (extramarital sex), homosexuality (male-with-male sex), lesbianism (female-with-female sex), and even so vile a sin as beastiality (mankind-with-beast sex). Pornography floods the newsstands and mens' minds are focussed on sexual fantasies. Society has clearly lost its way in a sexual wilderness. Permissiveness dominates much of modern society.'1

Our reactions to these quotations are tempered by our own attitudes toward sexuality and by our assumptions and beliefs about the role of sex in human life. The diversity of such attitudes in Canadian society, their origins, and the various sexual 'philosophies' they foster, are the subject of this paper. Anyone presuming to write about sexual attitudes would do well at the outset to admit the bias that his own attitudes will inevitably introduce. This admission, while implying an attempt at objectivity, produces no special capacity to recognize when the attempt has failed. Only the conviction that, by definition, it must! If attitude is defined as 'manner, disposition, feeling or position with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation especially of the mind,' the scope of the definition

____________________
*
Reprinted from The School Guidance Worker 29 ( May-June 1974), 45-50.

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