Why my own culture is weird


#1

Quora has a great thread happening that encourages people to point out the contradictory, surprising, and downright strange tendencies within their own cultures. Naturally, one of the first posts by an American mentions that great disconnect wherein extreme violence is a-ok, but women's boobies are dirty. READ THE REST


#2

Protip: add "?share=1" to that Quora URL to side-step its bullying login demands.

http://www.quora.com/Culture-social-science/What-strikes-you-as-unusual-about-your-own-culture?share=1


#3

Some of these are kind of dull (eating pancakes for dinner my Dutch friends? we have 24/hour diners)

Others though are full of awesome. Koreans seem to have won the thread. My favorite is the Korean superstition that fan sucking out all the oxygen out of an enclosed room and not cleaning your house when you move to trick evil spirits into staying behind since they'll think you haven't left.


#4

Good to know - that's easier than chiseling away at it in Chrome.

right-click - inspect element - up a level - up another leval - oh, too far, down one - delete node
repeat until readable..


#5

I always thought fan-death was one of those old wives tales in Korea, kind of like swimming after eating is in the states — but it's oddly just assumed as truth over there by so many people. A Korean-born co-worker of mine who has been in the states for years now was shocked to hear that it's a complete myth, and proceeded to call home to let his family know.


#6

Ugh, that Netherlands guy is a piece of work. It's not "BRAG ABOUT HOW AWESOME YOUR CULTURE IS", Netherlands guy.


#7

Something that I hate even more than Paywalls are Loginwalls.


#8

I don't understand why so many see a disconnect re: violence vs. nudity. The word "disconnect" implies a relation that is being willfully or subconsciously ignored, which isn't the case here because the two topics are completely unrelated. Americans tend to be quite prudish about nudity, and Americans tend to be pretty accepting of depictions of violence. Both observations might be considered 'weird' so they're reasonable things to bring up in this context, but why compare the two things as though there is some kind of hypocrisy or moral incongruity at play? these aren't two sides of the same coin. No one would similarly find it a 'disconnect' that Americans love football, but they aren't generally good recyclers.


#9

There is much more of a relationship between violence and nudity/sex than there is with your example of football and recycling.

Violence and sex are base, essential parts of nature and life, with a long and complicated relationship - one that changes over time.

Through increased education and progressive culture, urges toward violence drop. People tend not to have a caveman-like bloodlust these days, and if they do, it's repressed for the good of everybody else.

Remember that the stereotypical (exaggerated) caveman mating ritual is the alpha male knocks out not only all the other males but also the cavewoman of his choice with a club. Violence (real or threatened) remains a part of sex to this day in many places, and of course plays a big part in history since the caveman days. But in progressive cultures, that is discouraged (to put it mildly) and we try to improve the situation for everyone.

Which takes us back to the strange relationship between violence and nudity/sex in the US. Violence is glorified and widely accepted, and nudity and sex are taboo. Except of course that they really aren't - but there are extraordinarily mixed signals in our culture.

I may not be making myself clear, but the way sex and violence are treated in American culture is significant and says a lot about us as a whole. It's perhaps easier to simply compare to other cultures - consider how these things are considered in the most progressive cultures (Scandinavia etc.) and what we'd consider the least progressive (much of the Middle East, for example), and then figure out where America fits in. It's different, but closer to repressive Middle East cultures than anything even mildly progressive, and IMO it's harmful and stunting our society and culture.


#10

I understand the sentiment against the glorification of violence but I think there's some pretty contorted logic involved in relating that to nudity. If it's that both are base, essential parts of nature and life, perhaps we also should relate them to building shelter and eating food. Should we consider that the 'foodie' trend presents a disconnect with prudish american views toward the human body? I don't think the relationship is in any way direct between violence and nudity.

And on that note, while penguinchris seeks to link violence with sex, the actual cultural issue at hand is the shying away from nudity, not sex itself. You'll find America is actually quite permissive of sex in general, just not of actually showing the naked bodies. While you won't see actual nudity in prime time television, you'll be hard pressed to find entertainment programming that doesn't depict, imply, or at least talk about sex. In my experience, it's more or less assumed here that students (in high school at least) are sexually active.

Concluding, I can agree that the ways American culture treats violence and nudity (and sex!) are, each in their own ways, significant and telling of the culture here. Even so, I think that to say the high tolerance of depictions of violence presents a disconnect when compared to censorship of nudity implies a false moral equivalence; they are simply two separate topics that American culture has different tolerances for.


#11

If you wanted to make the case for a disconnect, my most recent post suggests a good one: we in the US don't tend to think twice about implied or even actually depicted sex on prime time TV... right up until the point where any 'naughty' bits are shown! Then and only then is it unfit for public display!


#12

Probably because sex and violence form the bulk of our entertainment industry content. And that there is a vast body of research and editorial on those issues. I imagine that people don't talk about it nearly so much in France, where the entertainment industry is heavily skewed toward talky, intellectual (or pseudo) and philosophical content.


#13

Surprised and disappointed that this thread has, so far, turned into a discussion of America's relationship to violence and sex/nudity, which is the single most obvious, well-known, and over-analysed "cultural quirk" on Earth.

The Quora thread is in fact packed with esoteric information that most people would otherwise never come across.


#14

But the sex that is talked about on TV is often based on subtle coercion if not outright violence.


#15

I'm starting not to mind loginwalls (that's a word now?) so much, as long as they don't require me to faff about registering a new account.

If logging in is that easy, I can see the argument for requiring it; anyone reading has no barrier to commenting.


#16

The Netherlands is (are?) actually pretty awesome though, you have to admit.


#17

The concept linking sex and violence is obscenity.

Much of the civilised world looks at US censorship standards and thinks, really? Fucking, you find offensive. But killing, not so much? Geez... that's a bit sick and twisted.

This Film Has Not Yet Been Rated explores this pretty well.


#18

yeah, no, they are. #sourgrapes


#19

Thanks for reminding me that I popped in to say how very interesting this Quora thread is.


#20

I'm not sure how to put this, but I'll take a stab at it (pardon the violent expression). My gist is that linking nudity and violence only makes sense from the particular cultural viewpoint that violence is obscene and nudity really isn't. One attempt at defining a culture might be to list things which are considered obscene, virtuous, rude, polite, normal, etc... So finding a disconnect in the situation where a given culture finds one thing obscene, but not another only means that from the perspective of the judge, that culture is backwards on these issues. One from a culture in which showing one's bare feet is considered disturbingly obscene and everyone has a beer at lunchtime might find the same disconnect when observing a different culture with opposite values: "Look at those sick and twisted weirdos! They've got laws against children drinking a simple beer with their lunch, but everyone walks around in sandals like perverts!"

Identifying obscenity as the concept linking nudity and violence tells only that the Identifer's actual or personally ideal culture is in disagreement with the target culture on what is and isn't obscene. In a cultural vacuum, the two are separate issues; there's no inherent disconnect with American culture being permissive of depictions of violence in their entertainment while also holding nudity as obscene and limiting or restricting its use in entertainment.