Thesis: Pre-Marital Sex View in Different Cultures

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Pre-Marital Sex - Different Cultures & Views

By means of universalistic assumptions, it was possible to compare the views on premarital sex of Western and East Asian cultures. Using a number of empirical and discursive articles on this subject matter, this work was able to present the views of Western cultures such as United States, Sweden, and Turkey. We also showed the East Asian views of societies like Vietnam, Taiwan, Japan, China, and Korea. Certain similarities have been pointed out: these two views are products of concrete socio-historical specificities and other social forces. Openness to the idea of premarital sex was identified for both cultures. Difference in the timelines of the emergence of liberal views to premarital sex was raised in the discussion. Analysis of the study pointed out to the bi-directional relationship to the society and individual of such kind of cultural beliefs and views on premarital sex..

Introduction

Most of us are aware of the fact that our subject matter, i.e. premarital sex, has long sparked debates related to cultural, religious, and even the political arena. It has since become a popular topic among social science researchers because of its important implications in the way we understand certain socio-cultural beliefs and practices. An in-depth understanding of this issue, particularly its implications on population trends and state-funded methods to control the population also benefits demographers and even political scientists.

This paper will begin by laying down our important research objectives. Firstly, we shall look at the views of East Asian cultures and Western cultures on premarital sex, particularly their similarities and differences. After presenting these views, we shall try to provide a bidirectional understanding of these traditions using macro and micro sociological perspectives. By macro sociology, we will look at the implications of upholding such premarital sex values to the larger social context of these two particular societies. By micro sociology, we will try to look at the effects to the individual of such cultural premarital sex values.

Some Conceptual Clarifications

There are three important conceptual clarifications that I wish to make before proceeding to the detailed discussion of this subject matter. The terms premarital sex, Western culture, and East Asian culture shall play a great role in the entirety of this research work. Hence, I believe that it is fitting to present the definitions and assumptions by which this research work shall operate on.

Premarital sex, by definition, is an engagement to sexual activity that takes place before marriage (Asadi, 2000).

For the purpose of this article, we shall use both cultural and geographical boundaries when we define culture to be able to come up with a comparative understanding of the Western and East Asian culture. Western culture is defined as the culture that "currently dominates in many Western and Central European nations and several nations settled by European descendents, especially the United States" (Western Culture Global, n.d., par. 8). East Asian culture, on the other hand, is defined as the culture of those residing in China, Japan, Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan (Nations Online, 2008). We will also be including Vietnam under East Asian culture because according to the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in the United States of America Website (n.d., par. 8), "Though sharing the same Southeast Asian cultural origin, the Vietnamese culture was transformed and bore East Asian cultural characteristics because of the long domination of the Chinese Han dynasty and the imposition of its culture on Vietnam."

II. Method

The process of selecting specific research contributions that were included in this research work was conducted through three steps. First, bibliographical databases were searched for relevant journal articles, theses, and dissertations using specific research queries (the keywords used are the following: premarital sex + views + culture). Library and internet research techniques were also employed in this research work. Second, the sources were listed and analyzed in terms of their content. Third, the analyses that resulted from these search processes were included in the review process.

III. Data Presentation

Our discussion shall begin with the presentation of Western cultural views on the issue of premarital sex and will be shortly followed by their East Asian counterparts. To be able to understand cultural views on this subject matter, we will look at empirical studies done on these societies which will narrate to us such particular beliefs and attitudes towards premarital sex.

Premarital Sex: Western Cultural Views

Premarital Sex Trends

Previous research in the field of premarital sex attitudes in U.S. society suggested that it has not changed much between 1930s to 1960s, and that they have became more liberal (permissive) around 1960s to 1970s. This attitude has remained fairly stable during 1980s to 1990s (Glenn and Weaver cited in Harding & Jencks, 2003). We can try to understand current premarital sex issues on two levels - that of belief and that of behavior. On the level of views, 2001 results of Gallup poll state that sixty percent of Americans say that premarital sex is acceptable. On the realm of behavior, a 2002 study by the National Survey of Family Growth, on the other hand, indicate that 95% reported they had had premarital sex prompting one media outfit to run its headline in this manner: "Most Americans have had premarital sex, study finds" (Jayson, 2006). Not only has premarital sex existed for decades already in the American society but it also occurs early on. Song (2004) reported that findings of a study among 12,000 adolescents by Columbia and Yale researchers showed that U.S. teens who pledged to remain virgins until marriage have had trouble keeping such promise as 88% of them had premarital sex. Moreover, those who vowed to remain chase until their wedding were the ones who are less likely to use condoms during intercourse. They are also more likely to contract sexually-transmitted disease and are often unaware that they have contracted such infection.

On Social Institutions

At this point, trends have established that Americans tend to have very open and liberal views on premarital sex, but what are the factors associated with the emergence of such frame of mind? The study of Eyal and Kunkel (2008), offers us some light on this issue as they maintain that, "[previous] studies have shown that there is a considerable amount of sexual messages across the television landscape" (p.163). Results of their own experimental study among freshmen students indicated that there is a "causal relationship between exposure to televised portrayals of sexual intercourse and merging adults' sexual attitudes and moral judgments... This study reveals that viewing shows with negative consequences of sex leads to significant effects on emerging adults immediately after viewing and that these effects persist two weeks later. Viewing negative outcomes of premarital sex intercourse leads to more negative attitudes toward sex and to more negative moral judgments of the characters who engage in this behavior" (ibid, p. 175). Hence, if our current trends show that Americans are being more engaged now in premarital sex, and upon drawing insights from this previously-mentioned study, we can say that media may have shown lesser sexual portrayals that have negative outcomes which is why we continue to have high premarital sex engagement among our teens.

From the media institution let us move to another social institution, i.e. our religious institution and how it fares in this whole premarital sex discourse. Issues of secularization, or the "long-lasting process that involves a turning-away from religious bonds, from transcendental attitudes, from expectations directed to other-worldly life, and from cultic arrangements as well as fixed, foreseeable changes in private and public everyday life." (Varga, n.d., p. 237-238) is a significant point of discussion when we talk about premarital sex and religious teachings. Religion's now has lesser control among its adherents (Bruce, n.d.:86-87), This is strengthened by the results of the study of Petersen & Donnenwerth (1997) which showed that Protestants who have had strong church attendance during the period covered by the study, i.e. 1972 to 1993, did not register decline in support for church ideals and teachings on premarital sex. However, support for church ideals on premarital sex has decreased for mainline Protestants and Catholics who have had declines in church attendance.

Premarital Sex in Other Western Nations

The comparative study by Schwartz (1993) showed that certain differences still exist within Western cultures. For example, American culture is more sexually restrictive than Swedish culture as reflected in the findings which indicate higher negative affect during their first premarital sexual intercourse for American women than Swedish women. Such negative affect involves fear, guilt, anxiety, and/or regret. This negative affect is not directed to the sexual experience itself but more so to how it lines up with the cultural sex standards of American culture, which as mentioned earlier, is more restrictive than in Swedish culture. In a study in Turkey, on the other hand, women who engage in premarital sex were predicted to receive more negative views. Those who are likely to see these women in a rather negative light are both older… [END OF PREVIEW]

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