My sophomore year, I took a class where we held panel discussions at the end of the term dealing with topics like abortion, politics and one that particularly interested me: American morality. A few people presenting the panel tried to argue that we here in the States have no morals left; or, that we are a nation of perverts. To those people I present a counter-argument in the form of a continent many of us are familiar with: Europe.
I spent the last year studying abroad in Germany, and the stark differences, specifically dealing with sex, are overwhelming. Nudity of both sexes is everywhere, as is basic porn. I spent many a night in front of the TV, unable to look away, watching the free porn that came on after 10 p.m. My friends laughed at me for being so enthralled, but the best show you can see on TV here involving sex rarely features so much as a nipple, let alone scenarios as diverse as three-somes, gay and lesbian sex and stripping. This all appeared on the basic channels from 10 p.m and on. You need a Mastercard and a lot of patience to get that from Pay-Per-View on our TVs, and the real joy comes from the fact that it’s so accessible, which it would never be here.
And what about the act itself overseas? It feels easier to tumble into bed with someone there, but somewhat surprisingly, in a lot of German, French and Swiss cities (in my experience), once you make that first move, it’s on. At least here you can make out with a guy at a party without having to bring him home, pretend to enjoy it and then sympathetically explain to Tobias why you just aren’t ready to commit at the moment. In addition, there seems to be much more sensuality placed on sex in Europe. It’s not so much about getting it in and getting off ” it’s about connecting and enjoying it. After all, you have all night, right?
In most European cities, prostitution is completely legal. In Germany, city ordinances decree that whorehouses must be away from the downtown area, but every time I went to the train station I stared in awe at the perfectly respectable, older white building with the red lights in the windows, just imagining what kind of freaky sexual fiascoes were occurring inside. A few guy friends told me it was mostly old men who frequent the places, and only one of my friends who would admit going said that the girls there (mostly beat-up looking Eastern European immigrants) fawned all over him because he wasn’t past 60 and wasted. He also said the sex was nothing exciting and even though it’s legal, the dirty feeling kind of hangs over you nonetheless.
I don’t want to say we need to make our culture more sexual – I think in America, we’ve managed to strike the right balance between strict Puritanism and all out perversion. But the best way to realize that is to visit another culture and see how they deal with sex. So, if you haven’t already, take my word for it and enjoy the sight of sex, European-style.
Janice Edman is an English senior and Mustang Daily columnist