Sexual Behavior Across Cultures Research Paper Sample
Brazilian and Haitian cultures represent diverse, bright, and highly religious communities with high inequality levels in different aspects. Despite similarities, every culture is a separate bubble with distinctive beliefs, values and attitudes. Sexual behavior and sexual attitudes within the culture may also differ even in cultures that profess the same religion and have similar relationships with each other. In the final project, we have examined that both Brazilian and Haitian cultures are the representatives of collectivistic societies, which implies strong family ties and close connections within community, which, in turn, may also provide the foundation for the sexual behavior of the members within those two societies.
Sexual behavior and attitudes are important factors in everyday life and in health condition of men and women in any culture. Sexual behavior can determine future life of people, because there are various types of sexual behavior, some of which may lead to serious physiological and psychological issues. Conscious sexual behavior implies safety and responsibility in order to avoid potential dangers (Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015).
Though Brazilian culture has a strong emphasis on Catholicism, many still consider Brazil to be a great example of very sensual culture and many view women of Brazil as one of the most sensual and sexually active women in the global society. However, many things lie behind the sensuality perception of Brazilian culture, because often some level of gender inequality requires women to show sexual behaviors when women require it. It may sound very conservative and old-fashioned for the modern world, and it does not mean that it is the whole picture of the sexual behavior in the country, but it still takes place, leading female part of the culture to have negative sexual attitudes and performing sexual behaviors involuntarily. Thus, we can see that other cultures may view Brazilian women as very sensual and as those who show extremely positive sexual attitudes. In reality, other things such as inequality in gender and in income levels may hinder their sexuality and shape their sexual attitudes towards negative side. (Moore, 2006).
Another important point of the culture’s sexual behavior is promoting safety in sexual intercourses and using contraceptive methods. In Brazil, the percentage of women who constantly use contraceptives for family planning or with the prevention of diseases purpose is significantly low. For example, in Brazilian culture around 18% of women use condoms with birth control purposes, while only 2% of Brazilian women use condoms in order to protect themselves. The nature of this numbers lies in the religion of the culture. Catholicism states that the only way of prevention of sexually transmitted diseases is to not have sex before marriage, and if after marriage a spouse has a disease, a couple should not have sexual relationships (Catholics for a Free Choice, 2004). In such a way, we can observe that Brazilian culture has free and open sexual behaviors only on the surface. In real life, Brazilians are more ties by their cultural beliefs and try to stick to the religious values and principles that Catholicism possesses.
What concerns HIV / AIDS infected members of the culture, Brazil takes a very good position, and many even call Brazil a successful story of fighting with HIV. Sexually transmitted diseases used to happen in Brazil because of homosexual relationships. Still, with the time there are also many cases of infection as the result of heterosexual intercourse. Despite the presence of HIV and AIDS in the culture, just like anywhere else, the situation is getting better every year. The statistics shows the following facts:
The number of people in Brazil who live with HIV was approximately 490 000 in the year 2012, which is significantly lower than around 560 000 people in 2001;
The AIDS mortality rate has dramatically decreased from 9.6 per 100 000 people in 1996 to 6.3 per 100 000 in 2011, which is also explained by the emergence of antiretroviral therapy (Avert.org).
Thus, we can track that the country is fighting with this problem and offers sexual education to its members in order to offer better life and better health and to have positive sexual attitudes.
Haiti is an example of the culture, the members of which always celebrate life and try to find positive feelings and express positive emotions even in hard times. Haiti also has high levels of income inequality and high poverty rates together with unstable economic situation, especially in rural area. In addition, just like in Brazilian culture, members of Haitian culture profess Catholicism. However, Haiti is a country that has the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, such as HIV / AIDS in western hemisphere, which implies risky sexual behaviors. In Haitian culture, the diseases are transmitted mostly through heterosexual connections, sometimes due to prostitution, which may be unsafe. Fortunately, in the recent years the situation with HIV / AIDS has changed for the better, because the culture started to promote education in this sphere, encouraging people to perform safe sexual behaviors. Education in this sphere has led to the situation where young Haitians also understand the importance of safety and tend to have one faithful sexual partner, which also correlates to religion (Hunter, Reid-Hresko & Dickinson, 2011).
Thus, we have observed that as far as Haiti has poor economy and high poverty and income inequality that leads to social inequality, risky sexual behaviors often occur within the culture, but starts to decrease. From this point, we can connect collectivistic nature of Haitian culture to the improvement of safe sexual behaviors within the country. In such collectivistic culture as Haiti, people tend to take care of each other and have a strong sense of community. Therefore, every member of society wants to have a better life for one’s family and for the community overall and thus they actively promote practices that lead to the appropriate birth control and better health screen of the culture’s members.
Another important aspect of sexual behavior and attitudes within the culture is the desire of females and males to have sexual intercourses. In cross-cultural analysis paper, it was mentioned that even after terrible earthquake that hit the territory of Haiti, members of Haitian culture still tried to embrace life and stay positive. However, that earthquake left many people homeless, and among those people without shelter, many were women that started to become the subjects for sexual violence. There is a very bright example that gives a picture on the sexual violence within the culture. One of the reporters of Human Rights Watch visited Haiti and saw a woman who was dressed only from the top to the waistline and was trying to wash herself, while many men around were watching her. This woman shared her story with the reporter, telling that several men grabbed her and raped and when she tried to escape, they found her and beat severely. This is only one of numerous stories that happen to Haitian women and currently several organizations are trying to fight with sexual violence within Haitian community (Gerntholtz, 2010). It is hard to explain high levels of sexual violence by cultural characteristics. Most likely, inequality in the country may lead to such situation. Another factor that can influence that is that men may have more qualified jobs and feel their power over female part of the community.
Now we can underline similarities and differences in sexual behaviors and attitudes between Brazilian and Haitian cultures. The first paragraph mentions that both cultures are collectivistic cultures and both of them have certain inequalities in the society. Openness, diversity and colorfulness of Brazilian culture leads to the perception of sensuality and willingness to sexual behaviors and attitudes. Haitian culture is also bright and colorful, but because the world views Haiti as the poor economy, many perceive this culture as the one with complicated relationships between men and women. In reality, women in both cultures in many cases women show negative sexual attitudes, though it may happen due to different reasons. In Brazil, though people are very open-minded, they are still deep in their faith in Christianity and often stick to conservative views in terms of sexual relationships and marriage. Members of Haitian culture are also devoted believers, but difficult history and many challenges and struggles for better life led the country to the position with high inequality in different aspects, and in gender as well. Thus, power of men over women in economically poor community leads to high levels of sexual violence in Haiti.
It is also crucial to remember that the fact that it is hard to get appropriate education level in Haiti lead to the situation, in which Haitian population has a high rate of those who fall under the infection by sexually transmitted diseases. However, the situation is improving with time. In Brazil, the situation with HIV / AIDS is better and is constantly improving. Despite the fact that in Brazilian culture homosexual connections could explain those diseases before, now in both cultures, mostly heterosexual connections lead to sexually transmitted diseases. We can guess that strong emphasis on religious beliefs plays a role in having mostly heterosexual intercourses.
Overall, we can see that sexual behaviors and attitudes in both culture do not represent a very positive picture and the cultures should continue taking measures in order to improve the sexual position of women within the society and to offer higher levels of sexual education, which, in turn, will help people to make healthier and more rational choices.
Catholic Attitudes on Sexual Behavior & Reproductive Health. (2004). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/prevention/documents/2004worldview.pdf
Gerntholtz, L. (2010, March 9). Sexual Violence: Help Haiti's Women. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.hrw.org/news/2010/03/09/sexual-violence-help-haitis-women
HIV & AIDS in Brazil. (2012, January 1). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.avert.org/hiv-aids-brazil.htm
Hunter, L., Reid-Hresko, J., & Dickinson, T. (2011). Environmental Change, Risky Sexual Behavior, And The HIV/AIDS Pandemic: Linkages Through Livelihoods In Rural Haiti.Population Research and Policy Review, 30(5), 729-750.
Moore, A. (2006). Gender Role Beliefs at Sexual Debut: Qualitative Evidence from Two Brazilian Cities. International Family Planning Perspectives, 32(1), 045-051.
Sexual Risk Behavior: HIV, STD, & Teen Pregnancy Prevention. (2015, March 25). Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/sexualbehaviors/