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During its heyday, people in Britain and America loudly proclaimed exactly the same attitudes toward sex that their great-grandchildren now display toward hate.If you wanted to define anything as utterly beyond the pale, you just had to label it as “immoral”—in the jargon of the time, this meant “sexual”—and the vast majority of people were expected to recoil from it in horror.
That’s where the comparison begins to bite, because insisting that sexual desire was beastly, horrid, filthy, etc.
Here again, it’s easy to lose track of the fact that people a century and a quarter ago—most likely including your ancestors, dear reader, if they happened to live in the English-speaking world—saw things the other way around.
To them, hate was an ordinary emotion that most people had under certain circumstances, but sexual desire was beyond the pale: beastly, horrid, filthy, and so on through an impressive litany of unpleasant adjectives.
Some pursued any of the other dodges, and there were plenty of them, that allowed people to pretend that they weren’t getting sexually aroused and acting on their arousal when, in fact, that’s what they were doing.
That’s what happens whenever people decide that an ordinary human emotion is unacceptable and insist that good people don’t experience it.