Celebrity sex scandals and porn sales aside, puritanism is still ingrained in American culture.
Remember when Gwyneth Paltrow said that stuff about Americans being immature, conservative and work-obsessed? Well, a new study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology (summarized on Alternet) finds that there may be some truth to those labels.
Typically used as an adjective to imply sexual prudishness, the word "puritan" actually comes from the Puritans, whose beliefs were said to embody hard work, non-promiscuous sex and high moral standards. So when the study suggests that Americans are still "puritanical" when it comes to sex, what researchers are referring to is the fact that many Americans still connect both a strong work ethic and a conservative attitude toward sex with the Protestant view of salvation. What does this view of sex have to do with hard work? Obviously, sex—and any other kind of indulgence—could be perceived as a distraction from work. How Many People Have You Slept With?
One interesting tidbit from the study: Participants' religious affiliations did not significantly impact the results of the study. Rather, the mental link between salvation and hard work appears to come from American culture... not from any particular church or denomination.
In terms of how this affects our lives and sexuality, it seems that making a conscious effort to reject unconscious programming could lead to a more balanced (and fun!) life. In short, working hard is great, but having a drink with friends or a roll in the hay with a lover doesn't negate that hard work, or make you irresponsible. Prude To Nude: Learning To Love My Womanly Parts
Remember learning about the hysteria that created the Salem Witch Trials? Puritans. I'm just saying...