I believe that honesty is almost always the best policy. However, there are some topics people don’t want to talk about. The whys, hows, dangers and wonders about sexuality is a topic that is still covered up today, but these issues were much more suppressed years ago. Growing up in the ‘50s and ‘60s in a small prairie town, I was immersed in conservative values. Cover up was the operating agreement for our farming community at that time.
To discuss, in mixed company, methods to satisfy a partner sexually or to openly talk about lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) issues would have been disturbing at that time. This is not to say that kids didn’t wonder, in private, about their sexuality, or that they did not experiment with sexual activity, but the cover up and almost denial of human sexuality was as much of the culture as was going to Sunday school.
One can say that our civilization is more open now, and I believe this honesty is helpful in many ways. For example, in recent years, LGBTQ individuals have been making their way out of the closet. Thanks to more openness, misinformed myths have been debunked by studies showing that sexual orientation has nothing to do with harming children, being a poor parent, or abusing another. Unfortunately, unethical behavior and abuse can be found in every corner of our society regardless of sexual orientation … straight, gay and everywhere in between. Openness enhances understanding, while suppression and cover up can demonize good people and even serve to protect those who abuse others.
Sexual function is necessary for our species to survive. but it can be much more than that. Treating each other with kindness brings mutual respect. Treating each other with honesty brings trust. Treating each other with reverence for the other person’s right to choose brings the liberty to truly love in return.
That said, sexual relationships can be complicated. Sometimes hurtful activity can be unintended and may result when one party is not observant or considerate of the other person’s feelings. Conversely, it is also a form of cover up when one party fails to communicate his or her hurt feelings, thus allowing the harm to persist.
Certainly, learning to change in order to accommodate our partners, along with large doses of forgiveness and open communication, can help make relationships work.
Bottom line: The closeness and joy of sexuality in our society and between individuals is greatly enhanced when we treat each other ethically, savor the respect, liberty and trust that follows and throw off the cover up so we can all learn and grow.
Richard P. Holm, MD is founder of The Prairie Doc and author of “Life’s Final Season, A Guide for Aging and Dying with Grace” available on Amazon. For free and easy access to the entire Prairie Doc library, visit www.prairiedoc.org and follow Prairie Doc® on Facebook featuring On Call with the Prairie Doc a medical Q&A show streaming on Facebook and broadcast on SDPB most Thursdays at 7 p.m. central.