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Sex & the Anglo Saxons. What’s the Matter With You People Out There?

Christine Keeler, in an iconic portrait by Lewis Morley, was the key figure in the British Profumo scandal (1963) that sacked the Tories. Fair use – click for credits

Last night I watched Scandal (1989) together with my wife. It is a British film on the Profumo affair – a big political and sexual scandal in the 60′s UK -, well done and especially instructive to me in some way. I needed reflection and data. A few days ago I realised in fact how some readers of the MoR were like disgusted, or scared, by my earlier post “Decameron Reloaded. That the Fun begin“.

I also received 8 mails expressing total dissatisfaction, to put it mildly, AND a few people on the other hand – following my invitation to write stories with some ‘licentia’ – sent me a few original porn stories (2 of them very well written) I will not publish because my blog is not a porn site.

Man of Roma is puzzled. His public is mainly from the English-speaking countries. Given the culture (society) MoR is in, he’s therefore willing to raise his voice a bit and say:

“What’s the matter with you people out there? Why the hell sex is so scary?”

Of course, in the said post some innocent, playful fun between humans and bears occurred, true, but it’s not that I believe people think I find polar bears sexy. No. I am puzzled for the lack of any in-between thing so far arriving to my mailbox, eg, outrage, dissatisfaction etc. – or porn. Nothing outside that.

Frankly, this to Man of Roma is strange.

While I am waiting from some insight from my readers, I guess it’s high time for ‘Sex and the city (of Rome). Season 2‘ new posts. We need some explaining, in other words.

Ψ

I did by the way receive an interesting e-mail from a very nice US student of archaeology, complimenting me for my blog and all and asking me thought-provoking questions, such as:

[Your opinion about] “the different ways that Roman sexuality is viewed by Americans and Europeans”. For some Americans especially – she argued – “the ancient Romans and modern Italians become the same people. When telling a friend of a friend about all the ‘sexual’ souvenirs that could be bought — replicas of herms and phalli, calendars and postcards featuring Pompeii’s erotic art — the woman’s reaction was something along the lines of ‘What kind of people would sell those sorts of things,’ to which I was quite taken aback.  But she clearly viewed the ancient Romans as sexually deviant, and thus by association modern Italians.”

I replied to these and other questions with 2 (3?) LONG letters that will provide materials for the new Sex and the city (of Rome) season. I didn’t though focus on erotic art only (of which I know so little). Being a dilettante polymath, I am afraid I have totally confused (plus disappointed) her.

Ψ

Related posts:

Sex and the City (of Rome). 1
Sex and the city (of Rome). A Conclusion
Sex and the city (of Rome). Season II. 1

Also:

Caesar, Great Man (and Don Juan)

About Man of Roma

I am a man from Rome, Italy. I’m 60 and a Roman since many generations. In my blog, manofroma.wordpress.com, I’m writing down my meditations. The idea behind it all is that something 'ancient' is still alive in the true Romans of today, of which few are left.

62 responses »

  1. My dear naïve Mor,

    USAers and Britishers even North American ones when in private can be most crude and impudent, but in public no way they will be that way. How could you but one minute imagine that a sexy blog would not scare them away?

    Playboy and Hustler are US publications but they have to be stored out of reach for the under 18s and not in public view, even in Canada and in Québec.
    This is clearly not Decameron territory. Sorry but that is how it is. Just reread Commentators comment on my rather innocuous piece on le Déjeuner sur L’herbe…and he is first generation Italo-Canadian and married to a Lebanese girl.
    I’m afraid the Decameron is a strictly Italian thing and not export material. Sorry…but it was great fun.

    Reply
    • Paul, that a French guy like you was the first to react on the other post, I couldn’t but notice :-)

      How could you but one minute imagine that a sexy blog would not scare them away

      Sexy blog? Paul, my blog discusses also sex, in a proportion of 1/30 (figures arbitrary) – there’s a difference. Sex is an important part of life – or so it appears to me.

      I’m afraid the Decameron is a strictly Italian thing and not export material.

      Well, we have exported Espresso and pasta, we’ll export that too. You made me laugh, Paul, as usual.

      Reply
    • Which comment? The one about “c’est chaud?” Hm. Methinks you took it differently than intended?

      Yes, Jennifer is a Maronite but her mother’s family is of Italian heritage – Naples to be exact. Marciano. And her maternal great grand mother is from Long Island, NY.

      Reply
  2. Not sure what the Profumo affair has to do with this. I recall seeing a picture of Keeler in a magazine when I was a kid and wondering what it was all about. “Profumo,” what a name for a scandal! The film, pretty good, filled me in.

    Well, UK is not the same as the USA if you can believe me, but the reaction you got to your Decameron is exactly what I expected. I can only hazard a guess that for Anglophones like me, whether or not we are into pornography, titillation lite is a bit dull. It’s not fear, it’s boredom.

    I’ve always found Boccacio puzzling. Norman Cantor, an American scholar of the middle ages, dismisses him as soft-core porn. Well, maybe, but he sure is fun to read! But that was then (1300′s) and this is now. Maybe light-hearted sexual flirtation and coupling has had its literary run. It lives on in movies though!

    Reply
    • UK is not the same as the USA, naturally.

      Of course, and even just the US are made of tons of different ‘areas’ – SF, so different from NYC or Boston, as far as my experience (I adore SF, btw, for personal reasons)

      I can only hazard a guess that for Anglophones like me, whether or not we are into pornography, titillation lite is a bit dull.

      Ah don’t tell me THAT, as all those French books you’re devouring attest – no pornography there I presume – together with some of your posts ;-)

      You know, this writing [What's the matter with you ...] was meant to provoke a bit. It is one of the bad rules of (Italian) journalism.

      I’ll confess, a few letters riled me a bit. I don’t possess the Anglo Saxon self control: one person dared to compare me to Berlusconi, saying that, behind a thin crust of refinement, I am LIKE him. Oh, THAT made me mad.

      PS
      Boccaccio soft porn? Something is wrong here. He is extremely philosophical and not very far from Dante, to whom Decameron is possibly dedicated, one should wonder why.

      Reply
      • Ah don’t tell me THAT, as all those French books you’re devouring attest…together with some of your posts

        Touché, I guess.

        I guess I’m not the fiction-writing type. I never claim to be an artist.

        Reply
      • MOR, I’m always being told nasty things. Don’t worry. It stings I know because we know who we are but it is what it is when you let yourself out in a public manner.

        I’ve been called “polarizing” (even though I started a charity and write for a magazine covering issues for exceptional people), “xenophobic” (despite my cultural background and travels and love of history) and “immature” well, ok, maybe I concede the latter.

        Seriously. Other things I’ve been called but it’s the nature of A) my subject I choose to tackle and B) my lack of fear to offer insights that go against the zeitgeist – defined strictly from the prism of the person reading. People always take my stuff out of context or with too much emotion.

        Sorry. I know it’s not about me or the topic at hand but just letting you know we’ve all been there.

        I will offer thoughts on this post soon enough; when I figure out what the heck it’s about!

        Reply
        • Please don’t worry friend. We all have affection for you [btw, Paul and I have to propose something to u: hope u will accept).

          And why do you think I’m keeping you on my blogroll? Because I respect you and I like you being honest and not afraid of going against the zeitgeist. Now it is very late here and I’m sleepy. Tomorrow.

          Reply
  3. Hi!

    Did you notice that I was not one of the e-mailers expressing concern, disgust, or confusion?

    Reply
    • Yes, I noticed. But you are from SF, that to me is very close to paradise.

      Reply
      • Yes, SF is the most beautiful city in the U.S. There are other beautiful places in the U.S. — a great many, but SF is the winning city.

        Reply
        • San Francisco is indeed engaging and cool. In one of the brochures we read (we visited in 1991), it said SFers bragged about when people visit the city they want to move there. I believe it. Great city with a “feel.”

          It was more lasting than Los Angeles. San Diego was very pretty though.

          Reply
        • @Zeus
          @Commentator
          Oh, I agree there is not only SF in the States. I love so many places there I could with full right say: I am American too.

          Reply
  4. Um, don’t you think it’s generational, rather than Anglo-Saxon?

    I’m a Germanic-Anglo-Saxon (redundant, I know, but fitting in my case) and i don’t know anybody who finds sex scary. Anybody under, say, 60 or so.

    No, the problem is not that we’re scared. It’s l’ennui. We’re jaded.

    Perhaps you can help us with that, Man of Roma.

    Reply
    • Um, don’t you think it’s generational, rather than Anglo-Saxon?

      There’s something to it, although half of my readers are young, between 20 and 30-35. Besides, many of the ’60 or so’ are boomers (or 68ers): we owe them dubious things such as group sex and drug – I wonder if *Douglas* can assist us here, he being a boomer like me.

      It is an ‘outside culture’ factor, age, no doubt.
      To which I’d add a social factor: the elites (of almost any culture) being often blasé and certainly ‘never’ scared by sex. Very interesting topic. Not the place here.
      As an ex arts teacher (and ex free-lance journalist,) I speak to everybody, to my own risk.

      We’re jaded. Perhaps you can help us ..
      Ah ah ah, no, you over evaluate me. All I can do is just provoking and creating havoc a bit, it is fun.

      Reply
      • Forgive me for not responding sooner (though my strongest attribute is procrastination) but I am not so sure that being a Boomer is truly relevant here. True, we were there in the front lines of the Sexual Revolution. It was nothing more than a reprise of the sexual permissiveness that springs up from time to time in any civilization. It was the previous generation which facilitated it by developing the Pill in any event, we Boomers just joined in with much gusto.

        Group sex was an ancient Greek tradition that was adopted and expanded upon by the Romans who succeeded them, as I understand. We just re-discovered it. The drugs just smoothed the way, as did alcohol (to the less rebellious), and soothed the consciences.

        I do not view the Anglo-Saxons as all that uptight and afraid of sex. After all, it greases the wheels of commerce and we readily accept it for that.

        Reply
      • @Douglas

        my strongest attribute is procrastination

        Don’t tell me that, my latest post I had planned three years ago!

        I agree our generation hasn’t invented anything. We just rediscovered what could be most disruptive of our parents’ mores (good mores, mostly).

        I do not view the Anglo-Saxons .. that uptight .. afraid of sex .. it greases .. commerce

        I agree, adding tho one ‘but’, if one can dare say that :-)

        The Brits – the Commentator said – are more ‘freaky-freaky’ in bed compared to us (I liked that). A UK guy living in Milan, Andy, confirmed it. I confirm it. We are definitely more moderate. For the Big Big Fun one should bypass Rome (or Paris) and go to London, New York, San Francisco, Vegas etc.
        (I blabber on this in a *comment below*). I also agree commerce is a big factor for you guys.

        But (here it comes) most of my Anglo Saxon /Anglophone commenters agreed there’s a different attitude between Latins and Anglos (*below I summarize* their views) as regards sex. Should they be right, does it really matter? Life’s beautiful for its variety after all.

        Reply
        • Different cultures produce different attitudes. And there are public attitudes and private ones. In general, I have found women in America un-repressed in their sexual expression in private. It is the public expression which a culture or society controls and which provides us with our stereotypes. And that public manifestation of mores changes, fluctuates, over the life of that culture.

          I wonder, though, does our personal bias about a specific culture’s, or ethnic group’s, public expression affect our own interpretation of the private expression? Or, put simply, does what we see in the living room affect what we experience in the bedroom?

          Reply
    • just provoking and creating havoc, it is fun.

      It’s not the first time I hear that. Why is it redundant?

      Reply
  5. MoR, I have to apologize. You so gracefull invited me to your licentious game and I, all absorbed by activities far from playful, forgot to participate.
    I am making up for that immediately and sending you an email with my sexy contribution. Neither porn nor puritan, just plain titillating and fun.

    Sorry, I feel terrible, seen the chilly response.
    Lola xx

    MoR: Pls do not. And post your story directly on my blog, not via e-mail, ok? Thanks for being here dear Eleonora.
    UPDATE: She has posted her ‘story’ in the *
    previous post* just now

    Reply
  6. I have to say, MoR that I was not surprised. I can only speak for the UK but I think that, in general, people are both scared and/or completely embarrassed by sex. I’m not sure when this happened but I guess sometime in the Victorian era. Since then we’ve been ‘recovering’ but even the swinging sixties couldn’t fix the problem.

    And so, we like to laugh at it, turn away from it (at least in public) or get very angry about it. Of course, we are also a nation of ‘curtain twitchers’ so we like to see it/take part – but only if we can’t be seen :-D

    I can’t wait for the new Sex and the city season though. Particularly now that I have an Italian boyfriend :-)

    Reply
    • Andy, you are among the best commentator I’ve ever had. You are discreet, honest, and an Anglo Saxon of the purest stock. I very much appreciate your opinions! Yes, I really hope this new season can help to understand him a bit better. Where is he from, btw? Italy, tho small, is a mosaic of subcultures.

      I can only speak for the UK but I think that … people are both scared and/or completely embarrassed by sex …Not even the ‘swinging sixties’ couldn’t fix the problem.

      Yes, ‘those sixties’. It is where boomers are from, after all.

      Reply
      • Is there a correlation between how the UK/USA treat corruption and sex?

        I mean, in Latin countries, corruption seems so out in the open. In the UK, the perception is that it’s extremely discreet giving the impression it doesn’t exist. But we all know it does. One British ex-pat, jolly old fellow, even suggested it’s the most sophisticated in all over Europe. Which, I guess, if we accept the correlation I asked about, means the Brits are freaky-freaky in bed.

        Here’s another question: I heard a couple of years ago that the Americans and Brits were in fact more sexually active than Latin countries. Irony abounds!

        Reply
        • @The Commentator

          “Which, I guess, if we accept the correlation I asked about, means the Brits are freaky-freaky in bed”

          I’m absolutely certain this is true! But we also seem to have the biggest hang-ups too. Freaky with feeings of guilt and shame. Wonderful combinations. I’m amazed that babies get born at all :-D

          And I think you are right, there is a direct correlation between our treatment of corruption and sex and, quite often corruption involves some sort of sex (as in Profumo).

          @MoR.

          You are too kind.

          He’s from Tuscany although I understand his father originated from Sicily. And, yes, I am aware that Italy is a mosaic of subcultures. Scratch beneath the surface and Italy is, in fact, quite an amazing country!

          Reply
  7. Well, well, well, the tide is turning. Waiting to read Eleonora.
    Andy is quite right about the English reaction to sex. They are the same this side of the big pond.

    Reply
  8. I am making up for that immediately and sending you an email with my sexy contribution. Neither porn nor puritan, just plain titillating and fun.

    Reply
  9. I am greatly amused to see the reference to the Profumo scandal and the deservedly famous picture of Miss Keeler. It is an amazing portrait. This is an amazingly thought provoking post although I don’t think it needs to be seen only in the context of Anglo-Saxon taboos and morals.

    One has to remember that a recurring lesson of this scandal was that there was a probable security breech involved in all of this. Sex in the case of the Profumo scandal (and how many others through history too!) was a point of vulnerability in a man that created a vulnerability for the state. Another famous case here is found in the book of Judith too. Holofernes certainly put himself at grave risk and lost his head over a woman for whom he lost his head because he was thinking with the wrong head. Neither Judith or Holofernes were Anglo-Saxon.

    Perhaps sexuality is often bound with security, intimacy, privacy in such a way as to make sex a sort of liability or risk? The vulnerability or weakness is exposed in a sex scandal. An intimate expression of trust (sexual contact) is put into play and the betrayal (it is actually a betrayal of trust by both parties) results in humiliating damage.

    Come to think of it, a great many Anglo-Saxons don’t include the Book of Judith (among others) in their canon of Holy Writ (they are not alone in this choice, however). Perhaps this is too uncomfortable a subject, presented in an all too blunt story for them to handle? Certainly not the only objection, and not the official objection of the reformed Christians to this work, but perhaps there is something to this? Not being an exemplary man of faith by any means, I’ll let the pious and learned take it from here.

    My jumble of thoughts. I’ll let the rest of you try to organize them:)

    Reply
    • there was a probable security breech involved in all of this.

      Yes, of course, but it sufficed for me to see – in the movie only, of course – the reaction of British society to the sexual aspect of it to notice the big difference compared to analogous situations in Italy, France or Spain.

      Reply
  10. @Zeus
    Come to think of it, a great many Anglo-Saxons don’t include the Book of Judith (among others) in their canon of Holy Writ…

    Too true! Still, the Bible does have Eve, Delilah, and Jezebel, and no doubt others I’ve forgotten or never knew. Is that enough sexually dangerous women for you?

    Let’s wait to see what the non-AngloSaxons come up with in response to MoR before we conclude on the relevance of that ethnic link.

    Reply
    • Well, I’m not (not being Anglo-Saxon either) convinced of the ethnic link. I do wonder if there exists a relationship between a discomfort with human sexuality that crops up in different ages with different cultural groups that is made manifest in their religious, artistic or linguistic customs. I also think the relationships would be ephemeral because a people’s values change over time. Where is that politically and socially conservative bastion of San Francisco today?

      “Sexually dangerous women” is not what I am discussing with the mention of Judith. In the case of Judith, what was being shown was the vulnerability — a fatal vulnerability — of a general who thought his pleasures with a nearly conquered people (in his mind) were his to take with no adverse consequences possible. He was apparently mistaken, and his mistake was the ruination of his army. Profumo didn’t take into consideration that an affair with Miss Keeler might not be a simple role in the hay with an attractive mistress, but something very different.

      “Sexually dangerous women” is probably a related concept. Women’s rights didn’t come easily and still are far from accomplished and throwing nefarious women of the Bible at modern, educated, thinking, independent women is something that still happens. I think much of epic literature has a type of conquest of males over “sexually dangerous” (i.e. code for powerful or independent) women. Amazons are encountered and defeated in ancient literature for example.

      Reply
      • Yes, good point. “Sexually dangerous” probably reflects my preoccupation with les “femmes fatales”.

        Reply
        • @Zeus
          @Lichanos

          Sexy women can certainly be a vulnerability to almost any man. I mean, dangerous women, man’s vulnerability vs them is non cultural related, I believe, it belongs to the species. Why KGB employed beautiful females spies with ALL cultures or places they could to reach their ends?

          No, to me it is the peculiar, and cultural, Anglo Saxon reaction to that femme fatale (was she really? Ok, beautiful but so young, tho I lack info outside the movie) that made a difference. Here we would have reacted differently (as in France, Spain or Brazil).

          Reply
  11. Zeus raises a good point. In the Anglo world sex can bring down a public figure. In the Latin world it does not. Just look at the mistresses of France’s kings and presidents and various political men.
    In Canada two men were destroyed by a sex scandal, both conservative ministers in Ottawa and they were francophones. Had they been in the Québec governement, even a conservative one, no one would have cared. A few have quietly resigned in the ROC but no big fuss was made over it.
    In the US lately a few governors have made public apologies for their indicretions but only one resigned.
    As for Judith and Holophernes even in deeply Catholic Québec we learned her story in our “Histoire Sainte” courses and she was hailed as a saviour of her people and Holophernes as having been punished for his sins.

    Reply
    • In the case of Mr. Spitzer, he was not just involved in a sex scandal but visiting a whore. He was the once very powerful Attorney General of a state where the brutal sex slavery trade is big and brisk. He had a hand in prosecuting these slavers now one wonders if he looked the other way or became a willing “collabo”.

      It called into question not only Spitzer’s morals and judgment (the case with the idiot in So. Carolina come over to my blog see my early postings on Mark Sanford under the law and order category), but he was involved in a crime that is at the heart of the modern slavery business. Like the Profumo case, it brought down his government and the sex scandal was at least potentially about the Chief Exec of the state being involved with something more than just a young prostitute, but a crime syndicate — could the man have been blackmailed, or compromised by the Mob or by a slavery ring?

      Reply
      • I would love to see prostitutes be legally licensed, and form a union or several, part of the AFL-CIO perhaps. I think we can all agree there will be no end to sex work; the least that civilized people can do is institute a regulatory system that honors the people who do it (and crystallizes the distinction between people who are doing such work voluntarily and those who are coerced). I would love to see the continuing education courses for the higher class of license!

        Reply
    • With that, how does Clinton do it!

      Ahem.

      Reply
      • With that smooth Southern Style. But look at how uncomfortable he was — an Anglo-Saxon type for sure — about coming clean about a tryst with an intern?

        I think if he would have fessed up to it and told his detractors to stuff it, he would have suffered no damage to his career at all. The people who despised him already despised him and the people who loved him were not too likely to reject him for his dalliance. In fact, they didn’t abandon him.

        Reply
  12. While ethnicity may be technically irrelevant, religion and culture tend to pool with language, and Protestant populations distrusted sensual pleasures the same way that they distrusted splendid images, ornateness or beauty in their places of worship as “Papist” and likely to corrupt the mind away from the absolute literal devotion to Holy Writ. Sensual distraction from holy devotion! Oh Horror! America is the hothouse and breeding ground of Protestant sects splintered and re-splintered, and suffers from what has been called, after Lewis Carroll’s Cheshire Cat, the “Cheshire Scowl” of sexual disapproval: even people who do not believe they will go to hell for their impure thoughts thin their lips over erotic hijinks, as if there were a phantom scowl in the air with no cat (or priest) behind it.

    The best commentary I ever read on l’affaire Clinton was a satire apology in which, instead of contrition, the President said baldly “I banged her like a cheap screen door. Good night.”
    ________________________

    MoR:

    Dear Madame Sledpress, this comment of yours is of the gorgeous type I like.

    “Protestant populations distrusted sensual pleasures the same way that they distrusted splendid images, ornateness or beauty in their places of worship as ‘Papist’ … [in America] even people who do not believe they will go to hell for their impure thoughts thin their lips over erotic hijinks, as if there were a phantom scowl in the air …”

    This is excellent, thank you so much. Hope for your mental health though you are not Papist either ;-)

    Reply
    • I remember that one!

      “I banged her like a cheap gone and if you think she’s the only one…”

      Reply
    • Yes, I agree about Clinton. He should have said, “It’s none of your damn business who gives me blow jobs,” or something to that effect, and his career would have rolled on. After all, many of his chief accusers had more scurrilous adultery on their records – see my blog about Hypocrite in Chief, Henry Hyde. His weakness as a leader is that he always wants to be liked and to be right. His undoing was denying it on TV…so stupid…

      As for Spitzer, if you want to run your career on the myth that your the crusader on the white horse, you better not be caught banging call girls in the sex industry in NYC. That’s all. That and his incredible arrogance that meant nobody in the the state would cut him any slack…and I liked him as governor!

      Which brings me to this Latin-Anglo divide on sex/corruption and public life. I think it’s rather self-serving the way the pro-Latins phrase it, as though we Anglophones are prudes and stuffed shirts. Really, it’s a small minority that gets upset about “immorality” of public figures. Most people get angry about being lied to publicly or politicians using their tax money to live the high life. If they just had their affairs on the side, most people wouldn’t care at all. Now, why do politicians etc. feel they have to pretend to a puritanical standard of ethics..? Perhaps that is the difference.

      On the other hand, it seems to me that there is entirely too much laxity in Italy, France, where else? about some of this. Not about the sex, but, Oh, yeah, so and so etc. had a deluxe apartment where he used to sleep with his mistress…Those elite guys, they have it good!

      Unlike the moral lapses of men and women that are to expected, and treated with tolerance, I see no reason to take that attitude towards graft. It may be inevitable, but it only gets worse if you let it. Adultery, on the other hand, probably putters along at a fairly steady rate regardless of what people say or do.

      Reply
      • If adultery putters, I would call it far too dull to be worth the risk!

        Reply
      • @Sledpress
        That could be not a bad point on adultery.

        @Lichanos

        As for Spitzer, if you want to run your career on the myth that your the crusader on the white horse, you better not be caught banging call girls in the sex industry in NYC. That’s all.”

        Oh, THAT we don’t have it here for example. We’re more advanced. Berlusconi never presented himself as the non banger, but, au contraire, as the BEST banger of us all (wonder how, he was badly operated at the prostate.)

        @All

        Pls consider only this.

        America. March 10, 2008. The NYtimes writes Spitzer is a client of a prostitution ring.
        Two days later Spitzer resigns“.

        Italy. Between april-june 2009. Berlusconi is publicly dishonoured by his wife for promoting young, attractive candidates (!!). Later an under-age girl comes out, plus an escort who basically proves she was banged by him on Putin’s bed (a gift from P to B), inside his public palace.
        10 months later, Berlusconi, still glued to his chair.

        Reply
  13. L’affaire Profumo. I remember it well – the lurid newspaper stories, newsreels, photos, cartoons, jokes. Each day a new shocking revelation.

    The dramatis personae – John Profumo, Christine Keeler, Mandy (he would, wouldn’t he) Rice-Davies, Stephen Ward, Peter Rachman, and others whose names escape me, gave birth to the Swinging London of the 1960s. Where are they all now………..?

    While national security was an issue in l’affaire Profumo, the fuss was still mainly about sex. And, were similar-goings on to happen today – forty-six years on – in Westminster, there would be the same furore.

    It’s still just not done for a cabinet minister, or a prime minister, or a President, in an Anglo-Saxon land to consort with ladies not his wife.

    A Sylvio Berlusconi, with an almost Bacchanalian lifestyle, wouldn’t have lasted a day in office, had he been prime minister in an Anglo-Saxon land.

    How does this square with the assertions of so many, that Anglo-Saxons are no longer sexual puritans?

    I suggest that, while most Anglo-Saxons would say they are not sexual puritans, they may, psychologically and emotionally, still be.

    After all, most Anglos today were raised by parents who grew up before the so-called permissive 1960s. So they would unconsciously have imbibed the sexual morality of their more overtly puritan parents.

    It explains the nation-wide fuss about the likes of Bill Clinton and Tiger Woods. It explains why prostitution is still illegal in all Anglo-Saxon lands. It explains lots of other things.

    Scratch the surface of an Anglo-Saxon, and you’ll see a puritan lurking beneath, is what I say.

    But, what’s wrong with sexual puritanism, or sexual repression? Without it there would be almost no art, music, literature, and everything else that makes living meaningful. Civilisation is, as Freud said, the sum of its discontents.

    So I say, vive les puritains.

    Reply
    • I totally agree with you, but that puritanism may help the arts, arts being pleasure after all. Umm. No, I have to think it better. Pls give me time [and check my last comment that regards yours too]

      Reply
  14. @All

    Commentator: “I heard … the Americans and Brits [who are freaky-freaky in bed] were in fact more sexually active than Latin countries. Irony abounds!”

    Andy (to Commentator): “I’m absolutely certain this is true! But we also seem to have the biggest hang-ups too.”

    Lichanos: “As for Spitzer, if you want to run your career on the myth that your the crusader on the white horse, you better not be caught banging call girls in the sex industry in NYC.”

    Paul: “In Canada two men were destroyed by a sex scandal, both conservative ministers in Ottawa and they were francophones. Had they been in the Québec governement, even a conservative one, no one would have cared.”

    Phil: “The dramatis personae – John Profumo ……A Silvio Berlusconi, with an almost Bacchanalian lifestyle, wouldn’t have lasted a day in office, had he been prime minister in an Anglo-Saxon land… Scratch the surface of an Anglo-Saxon, and you’ll see a puritan lurking beneath”

    Sledpress: “Protestant populations distrusted sensual pleasures the same way that they distrusted splendid images, ornateness or beauty in their places of worship as “Papist” and likely to corrupt the mind away from the absolute literal devotion to Holy Writ.”

    ______________________

    It seems we agree on many things. Let me say my take on what the difference can be between ‘you’ and ‘us’ (see below).

    [Zeus, I'll later get to a point you made (update: see above, where I've replied to some of you too)]

    Reply
  15. [UPDATE: this debate had overwhelmed me last night (had to look up in dictionaries like mad) to the extent the image I gave of Italians was incautious, maybe too good. This is how I see it this morning. I can speak only for us Italians.]
    _______________

    We are not much inhibited, puritanical. Hypocrisy, irrevocable condemnation are (more or less) extraneous to us.

    Flexible more than strict, we can find any solution, decorous and less decorous (like changing sides ‘during’ a war). If we may have what is called *humanitas* – a mixture of human solidarity, tolerance, sympathy, mercy (and indecent compromise?) – this is independent of any form of social correctness. Especially from Roma southwards, our manners are often impolite, and, “we have little to no consideration for others” – though ‘the stranger in need’ we here help in ways possibly unknown elsewhere.

    [see a conversation on this among Italians and Anglo-Saxons *over at one* of Alex's posts. Alex is a Briton living in Milan]

    We might have less pangs of conscience when enjoying life, and we take our religion less seriously, since – I repeat it too often – we were highly civilised almost 1000 years before Christianity arrived, together with all its disgust for bodily pleasures. This must have produced some consequence, in my view, and in fact why confession was invented by Popes if not to fix almost any sin, and to continue with the bad deeds as if nothing had happened?

    By saying any sin, I include *mafia* and killings, of course: many ruthless mafiosi, it is well known, are very religious [see the link provided for a MoR's explanation of this]

    Which brings us to the so-called dolce vita, nothing to do with Fellini, only a cultural attitude vs the simple joys of life, which is common to the middle and working classes alike. The elites (politicians, celebrities etc.) may tend btw to some depravity (more temptations?), and my opinion is they are globalized and all similar no matter the country. For example, a good international bunch of them, meet chez nous in Sardinia and are often guests of our dear Prime Minister, as newspapers attest. Maybe our elite is a bit less hypocritical, they having a public that shrugs shoulders a bit (unless some lines ARE crossed, as it seems to be the case NOW.)

    So ‘dolce vita’ regards every aspect – taste for good food and clothes, infidelity not much condemned, some mild polygamy often boasted in public by the men – even politicians – and, though practised with ardour by women as well, less by them advertised. It is not uncommon in provincial towns – where boredom rules – that in groups of old friends some light swinging occur just as a tease, at times a bit more than that. No big deal, an attitude, a geste mostly, although shown overtly to everybody without any shame, which, I entirely agree, is puzzling (even to me.)

    Truth is, despite all this – I’m getting at least to one point: the reason the Brits may be more freaky-freaky in bed compared to us: oh I loved that Commentator! – we are not that soaking up all intemperances, sorry to disappoint the pervs. We love our families and mammas (though kids are less and less around.)

    I do believe we are the real (debased) heirs of the Greco Roman populace, this being the theme of this blog after all.

    Our sweet life – so lazy and mild – is enough for us. We suffer less hung-ups so we possibly need less excesses to ‘wildly break free’. We are culturally moderate in short (the famous golden mean,) and our young may even appear boring, conservative to the adepts of Spring Breaks (or of Russian vodka parties). Since, as for drinking, we basically do it to enhance the taste of food, less to socialize, get drunk or bang whatever is moving about the place.

    So, for the Big Big Fun, unless you belong to the happy few, do yourself the favour not to go to Rome, Milan, Florence (or Paris). Go to London, New York, San Francisco, Vegas, St. Petersburg – or to Yaroslavl & the entire Volga region.

    I know, globalisation and the Internet are changing things, the young are starting to get really drunk and Spring Break might arrive here too – all seems more homogeneous, or compatible, I would say.

    But, deep down, I don’t think the Italians (or any other strong culture) will ever change much. The skin maybe a bit, but not the core. Or at least so I do hope.

    Reply
  16. “Our sweet life – so lazy and mild – is enough for us. We suffer less hung-ups so we possibly need less excesses to wildly break free. We are culturally moderate in short (the famous golden mean), and our young may even appear boring, conservative, to the adepts of Spring breaks (or of Russian vodka parties).”

    OK, possible new topic one of these days, how Italians, especially modern Romans are viewed by non-Italians in films and books? The movie “Roman Holiday” for example.

    Reply
    • Ok, I’ll write ‘what do you think of us as it appears in movies etc.’ in a way to provoke a bit, and I’ll wait till you start throwing stones.

      Suicidal, a cupio dissolvi thing, but it can be done.

      Reply
  17. I’m reading the thread above but, frankly, I’ve got the impression this discussion is a bit unconclusive. Speaking of ‘sex’, I can only see minor differences between the ‘Anglos’, the ‘Saxons’, the ‘Italians’ (not sure such a term has a real meaning), etc. As you all know, Federico Garcia Lorca wrote “Teoria y Juego del Duende” (1933). Nobody knows, even in Spain I suppose, the actual meaning of ‘duende’. But everyone knows the duende lives in the remotest mansions of the blood, the duende sometimes wounds. I would say that ‘eros’ is a major part of duende, and eros is a word, or a concept, much more important than sex, these days. As a concrete example of what I’m talking about, I can post this ‘visual’ link http://masteroftheuniverse.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/i-lied/

    Reply
    • Caro amico Extropian,

      so happy to officially reveal you to the company!!
      Since we are buds and schoolmates 45 years ago, all I needed is to have u back with this ‘duende’, after such a marathon :-)

      What did you think rega’? These are discussions over a glass of vino, or café talks, if you prefer (Mario said that many times, as you might know).

      Now the ‘duende’. Like anything you say – or might ever say – is of course intriguing, but we have discussed of generalizations ad vomitum here with Lichanos, or *there*, in case u wanna leggere (read).

      [the visual link has some peculiar charm, by the way]

      Un saluto al capitano – al caro, ma dimentico degli amici, captain. E digli che visto che ormai è stato ‘nominato’, non potrà sottrarsi. In centinaia ormai (non esageriamo), usando lembi di veste o effetti profumati, co’ cani cercheranno di stanarlo, di quelli dal fiuto bono, e liunge liunge…..

      Ad maiora
      :-)

      Reply
  18. @ MoR – re your e-mail seeking to know why some readers expressed total dissatisfaction with your Decameron piece, and why so many people sent you porn stories.

    Sex is is inherently a laden issue to a greater or lesser degree, regardless of culture. Therefore for you to get only 8 hostile responses doesn’t sound like a lot.

    Were these responses from males or females? This might be relevant.

    Your Decameron piece did hint at human-animal (bear) sex, which is arguably a taboo in an Anglo-Saxon culture.

    I, myself, oppose human-animal sex, not for prurient reasons, but because an animal isn’t a willing participant. Human-animal sex is, in my opinion, cruelty to an animal. Did any of those who sent you hostile responses bring this issue up?

    That many of your readers sent you porn stories, is a reminder that there is a difference between porn, and what is genuinely erotic (I think the two are mutually exclusive). Many people, on the other hand, may find porn erotic, which may account for so many readers sending you porn stories.

    Were those who sent you porn stories, male or female? This may be important, for, what may be erotic for a man, may not be so for a woman.

    Reply

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