For those who have not yet read Greta Christina's blogs, I highly recommend them. While I often disagree, she is both intelligent and articulate, and often quite entertaining. Earlier today, I read this entry about the nature of public discourse on sex (how's that phrase for pseudo-intellectual hyperbole). Her basic question (and she only hints at the answers that she herself is unsure of) is: why do we treat sex as an especially taboo subject, beyond other subjects? Why is it that we can talk about almost any other aspect of culture and life, and express it openly, but not sex?
She suggests that it may be because sex makes us feel out of control in a way that other biological drives do not (though I wonder if this is the case in a time and place where the subject of other drives, such as food, are not as readily accessible), and that this makes us nervous and prone to not only feel uncomfortable about our own sexuality, but also that of others.
Oh, and if you think that only a wacky leftist could think that sex is really comparable to other biological drives, you might want to read C.S. Lewis's best known apologetics work Mere Christianity, where he makes similar observations (though coming to very different conclusions than Greta Christina).
I would add that there may be one other reason, a biological reason, why sex makes us uncomfortable. Sex is the vector by which our genes are transmitted or stifled, by which our genetic base is broadened and secured or becomes inbred and flawed. It has to do with the survival of the species in a very literal way. This gives sex a power that drives such as hunger do not have. By recognizing this, though, it seems reasonable to suggest that we should not allow our unease to keep us quiet - after all, keeping quiet prevents us from dealing rationally with the issues that face us.
Anyway, read the entry, think about the subject, and be aware of your own knee-jerk reactions (I know that I kept thinking "but of course sex shouldn't be spoken of as publicly" while not being able to come up with much in the way of good reasons why). It's worth considering why this subject makes so many of us so uncomfortable, and whether or not we should work to change that.