My German acquaintances keep asking me how I could live in a country full of so many prudish people. At the beginning of September, the movie “Wetlands” started its run in U.S. movie theaters. This flick is supposed to be obviously too crass for uptight Americans?
As if seeking confirmation, Slate magazine eagerly jumped on “Wetlands” calling it “Fifty Shades of Gross,” and got pretty worked up over some of the more explicit scenes in the film.
To tell the truth, I’m somewhat surprised that Americans are considered uptight. The Americans I know are anything but prudish. I’ve never seen so much bare skin exposed in public. OK, California — and especially San Francisco — are certainly more liberal and permissive than other parts of the United States. But the biased notion that Americans are prudish is simply untrue.
Twerking and Salsa Hip Gyrations
The bottom line is that America is a melting pot made up of many nationalities. A colorful, wonderful mixture possible only in a nation of immigrants with each ethnic group adding to everyday American culture.
African-Americans, for example, have never been known for narrow-mindedness or prudery. Where do you think Miley Cyrus got twerking, her rear-end gyrations, from? She didn’t invent those moves; she got them by watching the provocative moves of African dancers that had been taken over by hip-hop artists decades ago, and which have since become part of their standard repertoire.
Or Latinos. When Mexicans, Cubans or Colombians cross the U.S. border, they don’t automatically change character and forget their typical salsa movements in an instant. On the contrary, in states like Florida, Latinos continue to passionately practice their cultures.
Just Like “Sex and the City”
When American women get together, I sometimes feel like I’m in the middle of a “Sex and the City” episode. The discussions center on men and sex in such minute detail that I can only sit on the sidelines and blush.
California isn’t the only hotbed of liberalism. I’ve met young women in usually conservative southern states giving out advice on the best way to attract men using the “Tinder” dating app. Forget about premarital chastity. The digital age is a huge blessing for those living out on the Great Plains. To meet a partner, it’s no longer necessary to be an active member of a church congregation.
And All Bavarians Wear Leather Pants
Of course in Germany, we constantly hear that young girls promise their fathers they’ll still be virgins on their wedding day — and they consider that a prime example of American prudery. In truth, however, these Christian sentiments are held by a rapidly dwindling minority.
Sure, some Mormons consider homosexuality to be sinful and think any homosexual tendencies should be exorcised from those so inclined, but they are also a small minority. In California, meanwhile, being gay or lesbian is just as normal as being hetero — just a tad cooler.
Anyone who believes Americans are prudish probably also believes Bavarians wear leather shorts and dirndl dresses all the time, dance the schuhplattler for recreation, and visit their girlfriends on ladders up to their windows. Incidentally, the German media got righteously worked up over some of the intimate details in “Wetlands” as well. How many German readers do you imagine put the book down in disgust when they encountered the term “anal fissure?”
But Americans also make assumptions about us German, too: Slate magazine claims Germans are “sexually laid-back.” That assumption probably wouldn’t withstand closer examination either. Well, looked at in general terms …