Monday, May 7, 2012

American Prudes

What is it with Americans and sex? I never knew how culturally prudish we were until my first foray to Europe eons ago. Then, as now, TV commercials in Paris were akin to soft porn or nearly so. And it upset exactly nobody. But can you imagine the scandal here if, say, Eva Longoria bared her breasts in a L'Oreal commercial? The FCC would have an aneurysm. Europeans are not innately superior in carnal matters. The difference between us and them is mostly societal maturity. American culture, hobbled from the start with Puritanism, is only a few centuries old. Europe's cultural quilt dates back thousands of years -- with an Inquisition or two thrown in for good measure. In that time, they've learned a few things about what matters and what doesn't. Put into historical perspective, America is still an awkward teenager on her first date. And it shows. To wit: Florida's Brevard County recently banned E.L. James' "Fifty Shades of Grey" from its public libraries. Officials say it is "too erotic." Never mind that Henry Miller's "Tropic of Capricorn" and Nabokov's "Lolita" are still available for check-out. FSOG, part of a burgeoning genre called "mommy porn," features graphic BDSM scenes. This, I suspect, is behind the pearl-clutching. Per Forbes, the the book catapulted to the top of the New York Times best-selling e-book fiction list in March. Ironically, banning it from libraries will only add to its sexy allure. Good.

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