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The Concept of Taboo

             Why don’t we say certain things or perform certain acts? What prevents us from using foul language in public? What prevents us, for example, from discussing masturbation? In every society, there is a concept known as “taboo.” A taboo is something looked down upon by society because of social custom. Incest and indecent exposure are both examples of taboos that hold a legal statute. However, many taboos are not illegal. Many actions and words are only taboo because of custom. There are no particular laws that classify things as “taboo.” In certain places in the world it is illegal to swear, but oftentimes this is not enforced. Many of the concepts we view as taboo are rarely discussed because it makes us uncomfortable to confront them. However, those behaviors that are classified as taboo usually are a major concern for our society. Taboo is a result of generations of civilizations who reject behaviors, including language behaviors, which they deem unacceptable. Various cultures have different taboos, and these rules help people to successfully assimilate into a certain society. .
             If we start with our own culture, the American society, one would realize that there are a multitude of words and actions that are considered taboo. Masturbation is a perfect example of taboo. As a common behavior among many Americans, why is it such a taboo word? Nobody wants to seem to talk about it. Yet if a lot of people supposedly do it, then it should be spoken about. We can easily talk about sex with another partner. In our society, we have to think of what the “right” thing is to say. We have all heard the phrase “there is a right time and a right place for everything.” American culture has decided that masturbation has no right place among them. Or perhaps it is the conversation about it that is deemed inappropriate. Sure, groups of boys discuss masturbation when they are together, but as soon as someone else walks in the room, the conversation quickly changes to sports.

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