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TABOO

What do you think are the most taboo subjects in America today?
(think of your answer before hitting the link, so you aren't biased by my thoughts!)

TOP US TABOOS
(my impressions, what are yours?)
incest
poop; we don't talk about it
nudity; bodies that aren't model-perfect
obesity and overweight
sex; any kind other than hetero and preferably married
negativity: being sick or sad
age (esp for women over 29)
cannibalism, eating pets or horses, eating raw meat
challenges to America's greatness
challenges to any of a number of rigid political or religious positions
not ok to be: atheist, socialist, Islamic, etc etc etc
foreigners that don't speak English
??
?
?

TABOO DEFINED
forbidden
a strong social prohibition
forbidden based on moral judgment or religious belief
breaking it is objectionable or abhorrent
transgressions may lead to penalties
taboos are cultural; none are universal
best not to joke about them

THE MOST UNIVERSAL TABOOS
cannibalism
exposing of intimate parts
intentional homicide
incest
according to Freud the only two that are universal are incest and patricide

ETYMOLOGY
from the Tongan word tabu
meaning set apart or forbidden
appears in many Polynesian cultures

COMMON TABOOS
sexual practices: unmarried, adultery, intermarriage and miscegenation
sex with animals, children, dead people
incest (even consensual), fetishes, homosexuality
divorce, relationships
death
pregnancy/childbirth
dietary restrictions (halal and kosher diets, religious vegetarianism, prohibition of cannibalism)
bodily functions: burping, flatulence, defecation and urination
psychoactive drugs
genitalia, transsexual gender identity, circumcision or sex reassignment
exposure of body parts (ankles/Victorian, women's hair/Middle East, nudity/US)
offensive language
foot binding (was practiced in ancient China) and other bodily alterations
alcoholism
depression
suicide
cancer, AIDS
polarizing issues: racism, sexism, ethnicity, nationality, religion, politics, money, class, sexual orientation, disability
unfamiliar political systems: fascism, Communism, anarchism, militarism
burning things: books, flags, money

MORE
taboos may give hints as to cultural origins of populations
taboo deformation = euphemism or replacement of taboo words

TABOOS THAT ARE LESSENED IN WESTERN SOCIETY
gossip/scandal, alcoholism, depression
homosexuality, divorce, income disparity
personal relationships, pregnancy/childbirth, and teenage rebellion
cancer, polio, AIDS, mental disorders, suicide
age, height, weight and appearance

FREUD
noted strong unconscious motivations driving such prohibitions
essays Totem and Taboo
Freud postulates link btw forbidden behaviors & sanctification of objects to certain kinship groups
says that the only two "universal" taboos are that of incest and patricide

TABOO ON SOCIAL INEQUALITIES
we don't discuss, joke about or make an issue of things that can lead to bigotry, discrimination, defamation and stigmatization of people with those social group differences
purely factual information mb taboo
if it implicates a race or other group with a taboo
ideas about political correctness being the child of multiculturalism

BROACHING TABOOS
moderated debate
humor, parody, comedians, comics in paper

FORMER TABOOS
Wikipedia: When changing social attitudes mean that a formerly taboo subject can be openly discussed for the first time, it is often referred to as "the last taboo", ignoring the paradox that further subjects may still be suppressed to the extent that they may not even be openly acknowledged as being taboo, such as legitimately consensual incest, setting paper currency on fire, engaging in wars or conflicts (esp. in Europe), and whether humanity has the moral right to exist.

SOURCES
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taboo
http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_are_some_cultural_taboos_in_America
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/andrew_sullivan/article7139969.ece

A LITTLE TEST
http://www.philosophersnet.com/games/taboo.php
(no surprise, I'm in the permissive corner)

Comments

neptunia67
Oct. 2nd, 2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
That is interesting, because here you talk about a taboo discussion subject, but not a taboo behavior. Everybody poops!
liveonearth
Oct. 2nd, 2010 02:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, the word seems to have a broader meaning than I have managed to get in words yet.
neptunia67
Oct. 2nd, 2010 02:54 pm (UTC)
It is a difficult subject to articulate.

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