Sex, Politics, and Religion: Why are they taboo topics?

Okay, so I'm obviously not referring to discussions on this forum. These subject have been well worn. I'm talking about the "real" world.

TL;DR summary: I believe it is because most people enjoy the anonymity of the internet and not having to deal with things being awkward, but we would be better served if people did talk about these things.

So sex, politics, religion are like the unholy trinity of conversation topics when dealing with people face to face, at least here in the US. You just aren't supposed to talk about them... unless of course you are sure that you all agree and therefore no one will feel awkward or attacked or belittled. I think this is a travesty.

When it comes to sex I think open and honest discussions about sex would normalize it. Too often it is considered taboo to even mention it in mixed company even if it is like an elephant in the room. This is one of the reasons why I think games and movies try to be edgy and "hip" by using sex for shock value. I often find this kind of cheap.

When it comes to politics you're not supposed to discuss it, again unless everyone agrees. This might explain why after elections those whose chosen candidate didn't win are often shocked and begin contemplating conspiracy theories because "No one I talked to voted for him."

Religion... oh religion. I think if we could have frank and honest discussions on religion in mixed company then maybe we could start breaking down some stereotypes: all muslims are terrorist, all christians are idiots, all atheists are assholes.

Of course, I could be painfully deluded and all this discussion would just cause more bickering because people, in general, suck.

Thoughts? Feelings? Objections?

I find it's because people find it very difficult to hold civil and rational arguments on topics they feel very strongly about, so it's simply not brought up often.
Sex isn't discussed a lot because it is a private thing, and not a lot of people fancy discussing intimate things in casual conversation.

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Objection!

My father's side of the family discusses politics quite frequently. My and my cousin are the dedicated commie pinkos and pretty much everyone else is a libertarian or doesn't care. It's always respectful and well enjoyed.

I've also discussed sex, though not as frequently, with my family. Namely my siblings. We don't give each other play by plays, but my sister doesn't feel like she has to hide problems in her sex life from me if we're venting about our problems.

I think religion is probably the one that most fits. I think most people just realize the futility, and in the U.S. there's a fair amount of homogeny in most social groups.

I think money is probably a bigger taboo than the first two. People don't like talking about their income/wealth.

Dags90:

I think money is probably a bigger taboo than the first two. People don't like talking about their income/wealth.

Truth. Though I think part of that has to do with the it is class warfare if you mention that class exists and is sort of tied to politics. (Or maybe I'm just stretching for a vain attempt to hold on to my point of view.

sex is a taboo topic for the very reason you think it should be discussed. People are embarrassed by it.

The other two, well, lets just say that waltzing blindfolded into a conversational minefield is not generally a good idea for friends that want to remain friends. This isn't to say that friends and coworkers can't or shouldn't discuss politics and/or religion, just that if caution is not exercised, a great deal of damage to the relationship can be caused.

In the UK religion is typically not discussed. Mainly becuase it's not an issue for most people. Their beliefs are their beliefs, so long as they don't practice an extreme form where they want to stab, shoot or blow something or someone up then it's cool. Best not to shake the boat ol chap. When one opens a can they often find worms so its best not to open the can.

Sex... depends on the company. Some people do, some peoppe don't. Some families do, some familes don't. All varies. Families more than not speak not at all about it, but people I know I'd say most would talk about it... dunno how many "in detail" as I wouldn't ask.

Politics... wtf are you on about? That gets talked about all the time where I am with families with friends, pretty much everyone with an IQ over 80.

Dags90:
I think money is probably a bigger taboo than the first two. People don't like talking about their income/wealth.

Not in the UK xD

Working class families will talk about their income. Richer more middle class or upper class happily talk about wealth... not the mere specifics of income.
Possibly the culture difference.
Wealth only won't get mentioned if there is a noticable class difference, then its a taboo.

Flippantly, you don't talk about sex because religion says it's wrong.

You don't talk about religion because it's that thing that tells us sex is wrong.

Because they are very personal subjects about which most people hold very strong opinions that they would rather not spend all day arguing about as the argument is likely to go nowhere.

Comando96:
Not in the UK xD

Working class families will talk about their income. Richer more middle class or upper class happily talk about wealth... not the mere specifics of income.
Possibly the culture difference.
Wealth only won't get mentioned if there is a noticable class difference, then its a taboo.

I think it's a culture difference. Employers sometimes give explicit instructions that you aren't allowed to discuss salary/benefits with coworkers. Something I don't understand in the least. As an employee, I would want to know if someone who does the same thing as I do was getting paid twice as much.

the abyss gazes also:
When it comes to sex I think open and honest discussions about sex would normalize it.

I don't think everyone wants sex normalized- and opposing normalization of sex isn't anything like repressing it. Many of us enjoy our sex as private matters- the intimacy involved adds to the enjoyment for us. Something that is "normal" is by definition not intimate. This is why I have a strict rule of keeping my sexual experiences private with the exception of to women I am interested in who for whatever reason need to know something about my sexual history in order to make the decision to have sex with me.

When it comes to politics you're not supposed to discuss it, again unless everyone agrees. This might explain why after elections those whose chosen candidate didn't win are often shocked and begin contemplating conspiracy theories because "No one I talked to voted for him."

Not exactly. Politics is an inappropriate topic for polite company because there are a lot of clueless berks out there who take it for granted that their opinion is the only acceptable opinion and that anyone who disagrees must be morally inferior.

Religion... oh religion. I think if we could have frank and honest discussions on religion in mixed company then maybe we could start breaking down some stereotypes: all muslims are terrorist, all christians are idiots, all atheists are assholes.

This topic is for me basically a combination of politics and sex. Too many people don't understand that people can have different religious opinions without being bad people, so discussing religion is taboo in polite company. Furthermore if there is an omniscient deity that is responsible for my existence, then my relationship with that deity is incredible intimate, as they will know me better than even my closest lover ever could. So wearing that relationship on my sleeve as some kind of badge is something I find very distasteful. Someone prying into that relationship against my will is equally distasteful.

edit

Nothing is taboo in my family, and couldnt be happier about that.

It varies by company I find. My extended family discusses politics all the time, but I never join in because they're all very set in their ways and very wrong ;)

One friend and I discuss politics all the time, we have very different opinions, but we understand where the other is coming from and can discuss thing for ever. On the other hand when it comes to religion we avoid the topic as much as possible. That's a topic where we can't see where the other is coming from, and it will lead to arguments more often than not.

Sex I generally don't discuss, not in detail anyway. Mostly because it makes me feel uncomfortable, it's private and i like to keep it that way.

Maybe it's just an American thing. Religion and politics are fairly widely discussed in the UK, although sex isn't really, unless its with close friends, and not seriously.

Those are all subjects people feel strongly about, and since a fair few people don't want to spoil the cozy atmosphere, they thread carefully around them. With sex, there's also tons of "shame" imposed by social oppression, found even in modern secular societies. The culture is still infected with the cancerous remnants of Abrahamic religious oppression.

In the end, nothing should be taboo though. A cozy atmospherics bought with self-censorship is bought much too costly, and isn't really stable either. And why would you waste your resources and kindness on people whom you might consider the worst of trash if you actually knew them?

Dags90:
I think it's a culture difference. Employers sometimes give explicit instructions that you aren't allowed to discuss salary/benefits with coworkers. Something I don't understand in the least. As an employee, I would want to know if someone who does the same thing as I do was getting paid twice as much.

Well that's why they don't want you to discuss it.

An employer knows that one person plays hard ball, but the employer knows that job being done is worth enough to the company but they pay them. It diminishes their profit but no so much per person that it's not worth employing them. Now all the other workers are lambs, they are easily pushed over and don't really complain about salary so long as they can live on it.
Making it so that you can't talk about pay benefits the employer with a way to increase their maximum profit, with lower staff wages.

In the UK employers aren't tight up bastards to that extent.

You are either in a job where there is a large supply of labour and you can be replaced if you ask for a pay rise above inflation. If you are an exceptional person in said job you will be promoted and given a higher rate of pay rather than kept on at a lower level.
In the "middle class jobs" there won't be a pay difference without a reason for it.
There is this rule in some area's of business but those are at the top end where frankly the pay is so high I don't care about them as they can happily provide for a family of 15 if they chose to.

Because they are seen as highly personal subjects and often times people cannot discuss them in a civil manner. However when you are in a group that can discuss them they are probably among the best conversations to have because they allow those discussing to learn more about each other and have a good time while doing it.

Shock and Awe:
Because they are seen as highly personal subjects and often times people cannot discuss them in a civil manner. However when you are in a group that can discuss them they are probably among the best conversations to have because they allow those discussing to learn more about each other and have a good time while doing it.

Part of this question stems from the fact that I: 1) like these sorts of discussions. 2) have trouble finding people willing to talk about these things without getting all screamy and 3) would, even with the screaming, much rather discuss these topics than who the hell got voted of American Idol or which celebrity was caught wearing an ugly hat.

These things being personal means they actually have some sort of substance.

i think that sex is a taboo topic because it's quite hard to keep having a normal conversation without turning red, bursting out laughing or swearing (I'm not going to post them here, don't want to risk getting a criminal file on this awesome site)

religion is a taboo topic because it's a very personal question, like asking how much someone's income is. also, with religious fanatics in the news a lot people get edgy and avoid that topic

politics is taboo because it has happened in history that at voting points there have been punch ups between people from different parties

the abyss gazes also:
Okay, so I'm obviously not referring to discussions on this forum. These subject have been well worn. I'm talking about the "real" world.

TL;DR summary: I believe it is because most people enjoy the anonymity of the internet and not having to deal with things being awkward, but we would be better served if people did talk about these things.

So sex, politics, religion are like the unholy trinity of conversation topics when dealing with people face to face, at least here in the US. You just aren't supposed to talk about them... unless of course you are sure that you all agree and therefore no one will feel awkward or attacked or belittled. I think this is a travesty.

When it comes to sex I think open and honest discussions about sex would normalize it. Too often it is considered taboo to even mention it in mixed company even if it is like an elephant in the room. This is one of the reasons why I think games and movies try to be edgy and "hip" by using sex for shock value. I often find this kind of cheap.

When it comes to politics you're not supposed to discuss it, again unless everyone agrees. This might explain why after elections those whose chosen candidate didn't win are often shocked and begin contemplating conspiracy theories because "No one I talked to voted for him."

Religion... oh religion. I think if we could have frank and honest discussions on religion in mixed company then maybe we could start breaking down some stereotypes: all muslims are terrorist, all christians are idiots, all atheists are assholes.

Of course, I could be painfully deluded and all this discussion would just cause more bickering because people, in general, suck.

Thoughts? Feelings? Objections?

I think it depends. For instance in my house sex was a pretty open subject and so is amongst friends. Religion is a bit more dodgy because you can easily offend someone but amongst people i know it's pretty open too, on that aspect it is indeed basically "don't talk about it unless you're sure everyone is atheist or religious (depending on your own point of view). Politics on the other hand seems to be something that people don't really mind, i have been in many debates with people who disagree and sometimes even people i don't know well. to take your example "No one I talked to voted for him." i could say, without lying, that i know people who voted for almost any major party, ranging from the greens to the extreme right wing.

IMO they're taboo because the chance that they'll irrevocably alter a relationship is extremely high with those particular subjects. With sex, it's just TMI-- do you really need to know that the guy in the cubicle next to you gets off on sucking his wife's toes? There's just too much chance of getting into a "oh god, I can't unsee it!" situation that's incredibly distracting. (This actually happened at my first job. I was fairly friendly with my next-cubicle-over coworker, and he told me that he was sleeping with a different co-worker and she liked to roleplay that she was a slave and he was her master. I'm a fairly open-minded person and not exactly vanilla myself, but damn if I didn't blush crimson every time I was in the same meeting with the other co-worker, and I lost a ton of respect for him that he'd violate her confidence by telling me this in the first place.)

With religion and politics, you run a significant risk of finding out that people you otherwise like and/or are forced to spend time with are actually terrible fucking human beings, ending casual friendships completely or rendering every workday or every family dinner awkward for the rest of the time you know these people. This is, btw, why I detest Facebook, it's full of people completely new to the internet who think that "internet" means "talk without a filter" and they'll sit there and spew the most racist, homophobic, sexist tripe without the slightest regard for the Black, gay, or female friends/family members who they know damn well are reading it-- even if they avoid talking about politics/religion IRL. Ever since I was pushed to get on that damnedable site, I've found out quite a bit of things I never wanted to know about my family members. Just think, if it's that upsetting and awkward to read it on the internet, it'd be a hundred times worse if they'd said the same things at the dinner table. And if it's bad *now*, in a time where there's a lot of mobility, imagine how it was in the ages where you couldn't easily leave the town you were living in, or the job you apprenticed in.

I don't think it's a "never, ever" taboo, I can and do talk about all of these things with friends. I'm somewhat careful how I do it, I'll tell funny anecdotes about my time volunteering in politics, but I usually try to sidestep heated policy debates. I'll have conversations about religious practices with people of other religions, but again, I try to sidestep the deeper issues of how their religion is discriminating against mine. Unless I'm with people with similar views, it's just too risky to the relationship to get into the hard things.

tl;dr: It's to avoid getting into awful arguments or being made deeply uncomfortable in situations you can't easily leave.

On the subject of politics it's because while riding in the car with my mother I critisized Sarah Palin so she told me to get out. She slowed down, I undid my seat belt and opened the door. Then she sped up and shoved me. So glad I was holding on to the seat or that could've gone badly.

tl;dr People don't talk about politics because it can be very dangerous.

because they make people angry, however I love talking religion and politics

Wait they are?
On real life I have no idea how many times I've discussed religion more times than I can count, politics are discussed all the time too, and most people I know seem to talk about sex without any problem, so I don't really think it's taboo, well at least not in México.

 

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