Privacy and sexual shame in cross-cultural discussion

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Andreas Schneider


Public concern and negative sentiments toward sexuality lead to a context of sexual constraint. This constraint causes unacknowledged shame, which in tum triggers anger and rage associated with its source. As a result people try to achieve privacy of their sexuality to retreat from public concern. Antithetical to the ideal type of sexually constrained societies, there are societies that provide sexual emancipation. Here, societies allow sexual self-determination, concern in sexuality diminishes and individual privacy is a form of independence. If people become sexually emancipated, sexual identities are less likely to be stigmatized, and sexual shame is less prevalent. Legal regulations and public policies in the contemporary United States are used in cross-cultural comparison to Germany to illustrate the discussion about privacy and sexual shame.

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