avatarJome Nartatez


The article discusses the importance of breaking cultural taboos around sex to foster a more informed and healthier society, particularly in conservative cultures.


The article "Discussing Sex in Conservative Cultures" emphasizes the need for open dialogue about sex in societies where such topics are often taboo. It illustrates the negative impact of this silence, such as increased rates of sexually transmitted infections due to a lack of sexual education. The author recounts personal experiences from a conservative Filipino background, highlighting the consequences of misinformation, such as the belief that kissing can cause pregnancy. The piece advocates for the creation of safe spaces for discussion, like Ms. Anaya's women's circle, and the inclusion of men in the conversation. It also points out the role of the internet in democratizing access to information while warning of the risk of misinformation. Initiatives like Scarleteen and Love Matters are commended for providing culturally sensitive and accurate sexual education. The article calls for a shift in how sexuality is approached, suggesting that understanding and discussing it can lead to empowerment and a stronger societal foundation.


  • The author believes that conservative cultural norms around sex can lead to harm, including the spread of STIs and perpetuation of myths.
  • Safe spaces, such as Ms. Anaya's women's circle, are seen as essential for open and non-judgmental conversations about sex.
  • Engaging men in discussions about sex is considered crucial for achieving holistic societal change.
  • Personal narratives are powerful tools for destigmatizing and normalizing discussions about sex.
  • The internet's role in providing access to sexual education is acknowledged, but with a caution about the potential for misinformation.
  • The author advocates for comprehensive and accurate sexual education as a means to empower individuals and improve societal health.

Breaking Taboos

Discussing Sex in Conservative Cultures

Foster a Healthier, More Informed Society

Intimate couple kissing in swimming pool. Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

The dimly lit room was filled with hushed voices. An older woman, Ms. Anaya, adjusted her glasses and cleared her throat. It was time for her weekly women’s circle. The ladies, varying from 15 to 60, leaned in as she began, “Today, we talk about something we don’t often discuss… sex.”

Growing up in a conservative Filipino household, I’ve witnessed firsthand the weight of sexuality, intimacy, and gender roles. I discovered books on reproductive health hidden under my mother’s bed — an unspoken acknowledgment that while such information was, it was also taboo.

Conservative cultures around the world, be it in India, parts of Africa, the Middle East, or even specific communities in the West, often shroud sex in mystery. Such reluctance can be traced to ancient customs, religious beliefs, or the simple need to maintain a society’s perceived moral fabric. In an increasingly interconnected world, it’s worth questioning: what are the implications of such, and how can we initiate a conversation without dismantling the core values of a community?

Taboos surrounding sex don’t merely suppress conversation; they actively harm society. A study in African countries revealed that regions with stricter socio-cultural norms had higher rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). The reason? Limited access to sexual education and prevention methods.

Without an open discourse on the topic, myths and misconceptions thrive. I recall my childhood friend, Rani, who believed kissing could lead to pregnancy. Such might elicit chuckles, but they underscore a deeper issue: lack of knowledge leads to unfounded fears and can adversely affect mental and physical health.

Change doesn’t mean outright rebellion against traditional norms. For instance, Ms. Anaya’s women’s circle is a beacon of hope. These women can discuss, learn, and unlearn by providing a safe space within the community.

There’s also the story of Amiirah, a radio show host in Somalia, who started a program on sexual health. While she received backlash initially, the show has become instrumental in dispelling myths surrounding female genital mutilation and its health implications.

The internet has democratized information access. Today, a teenager in a remote village may have the same access to information as someone in New York. But with this power comes the risk of misinformation.

Platforms like Scarleteen, an inclusive sex-ed site, or the Love Matters initiative, which offers information in multiple languages, play roles. They bridge the gap by providing scientifically accurate, culturally sensitive information.

Starting the Conversation

If you’re from a conservative culture, initiating this dialogue can seem daunting. Start small:

Educate Yourself: Before you can guide others, familiarize yourself with accurate, comprehensive resources.

Create Safe Spaces: Like Ms. Anaya’s circle, safe spaces foster conversation without judgment.

Engage Men: Often, discussions on sex are women-centric. Men, too, grapple with misconceptions and pressures. Involving them is key to holistic change.

Share Stories: Personal narratives like this one humanize the topic. They help in destigmatizing and normalizing the discourse.

While I was curious and often misinformed, I dream of a world where my daughter, or anyone else’s, doesn’t have to stumble in the dark.

Sexuality is an inherent aspect of humanity. Understanding and discussing it empowers individuals and creates a foundation for a healthier society.

So, start the conversation, whether you’re a parent, educator, or merely a curious soul. Break it, And in doing so, let’s weave a of understanding and acceptance.

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Sexual Education
Sexuality Awareness
Gender Roles
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