Bodily taboos: how they can manifest in our lives

Taboo — a term borrowed from the religious and ritual institutions of Polynesia and is now adopted in Ethnography and sociology to denote a system of religious prohibitions specific system features which under various names is found among all peoples standing at a certain stage of development.

In modern society, the word "taboo" is used to denote the ban on a certain type of behavior and is associated more with socio-cultural norms than religion. In this part of the taboo is fixed by law and remain just part of the unwritten cultural rules.

And if approved norms are quite stable and are mostly the same in different cultures and countries, in the field of unwritten rules every nation and culture has their own perspective on a taboo. So often, being in another country, the person experiences an awkward mismatch unwritten taboos between the two cultures.

Photographer Silvia Grav

Also the differences in the taboo, there are different families or communities. When a person violates a social taboo, the consequences may vary in severity, but is always a punishment.

For example, if the violation of the taboo that is the law, the punishment can be measures from fines to imprisonment. But if it was an unwritten taboo, the punishment is public censure, estrangement from others, up to the deprivation of belonging to a group.

Let's look at examples of what bodily taboos are present in our lives and how they may vary in different groups and cultures.

Taboos associated with the interaction between bodies. Sexual taboos.

It bans the manifestation of aggression and violence, sexual attraction to certain objects (blood relatives, children, Pets, etc.) as well as a ban on certain forms of sexual behavior (aggression in the partner's address, non-traditional forms of sex, coercion, etc.).

Here we see that some of taboo – hard and confirmed by law, and the other part may be different in various cultures or families. If we talk about physical aggression, fighting or even murder – hard taboo in peacetime, but during war, the ban is removed. About sexual behavior can give you an example: in one culture promiscuity is the norm, and in another taboo.

Such are the unwritten taboos including homosexuality in some countries, and the simultaneous presence of multiple sexual partners. In General, the list is quite large, even of different sex positions to one culture or family might be the norm, and another is taboo.

Taboos associated with food selection of the body and the involuntary physiological reactions.

Relationship to bodily fluids (feces, urine, sweat, snot, etc.) is also in many cultures a taboo. The main products of the selection in countries with a European culture is somehow banned. But if the defecation, for example, is taboo hard, the perspiration stands on the brink between the norm and the unwritten ban.

In this category may include involuntary physiological reactions such as hiccups and belching, which is also in many cultures are valid, but to condemn the phenomena.

Taboos, associated with interaction with your body.

This category may include such things as scratching, blowing your nose, picking your nose, ugryzenye nails and things like that.

All of them are or to the category of unwritten taboo, or not acceptable and blameworthy actions. With a valid action or is still under a ban, would depend not so much on country and culture, but from family or environment. For example, for a teenager to pick your nose may be acceptable with friends, but is banned in the family or school.


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Group, host, or prohibiting the conduct, is quite small, so, for example, in public transport the big city, you can meet representatives of very different groups.published


© Anna Kostina




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