It's time to lighten up about sex

ex has always been considered taboo in American society

for some nonsensical reason and it scares the hell out of the majority when radical sex figures, such as Howard Stern or Madonna, appear in the mainstream limelight. Why all the fuss? Must we incessantly act as militant as Senator Jesse Helms and censor every phallic allusion made through art, music or entertainment?

Americans seem to have tried to maintain the Puritan sense of untainted idealism, backed by a religious ethic, that sex is directly correlated to sin, thus coitus is the work of the devil.

Americans don't want their serene waters splashed with sexual overtures. Content with a more sublime and non-expressive stance, we hate to fathom our true animalistic desires and make known what we are really thinking.

Society has dictated strict rules and regulations that limit expression and exploration of sexual tendencies and ideas. So, those who transcend these boundaries are slapped with labels like "perverts" or "deviants." Liz Phair, for example, has been criticized on the basis of her openly sexual lyrics and Robert Mapplethorpe is a commonly cited martyr in the war between those who fight to restrict sexual expression and those exploring the human potential through sexuality.

Americans seem to be sexually expressive in the bedrooms, but complete the sexual paradox while not under the sheets. The forbidden fruits of sexuality are kept in the closet of everyday life and censored through most of our favorite mediums, like television, radio and magazines.

There is a popular "Seinfeld" episode in which cast members make bets on who will give in and masturbate first. This episode and scenes of Sharon Stone's genitalia on film are only temporary goodies. They are erotic enough and allow us to indulge for thirty minutes or for a two-hour flick, but our guided, socialized predispositions then we come back to repressed reality and shudder at the idea of "bumping uglies."

What we are talking about here is not the realm of the sexually repressed or the vigilante sex warlords. The average American's distaste with sexual promotion is unjustified and hypocritical.

Getting in touch with sexuality and its corresponding practices is an education for the soul, a growing and sensual exploration that anyone can partake in, given that it is performed safely.

"Take it ... Or Leave It" is an opinion piece in every alterNation.

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