taboo graffiti

Eight Modern Cultural Taboos

Taboos are things we often associate with ancient history, cultural anthropology, or perhaps with aboriginal tribes. We don’t, however, often use the term as an aspect of modern society in the developed world.

But every society has its taboos, and we are no exception. Here are some we experience today:

taboo graffiti

Photo Credit: Sabeth718

Eight Modern Cultural Taboos

1. Openly discussing divorce. Kristy Campbell explores how divorced women, in particular, struggle with being able to share about their past marriage, and the painful process of divorce.

2. Streaking at sports events. I’m pretty sure you can just chalk this up to public nudity in general, but Steve Rushin at Sports Illustrated claims that it’s the ‘last taboo on television‘.

3. Breastfeeding in public and/or with older children. As the controversy stirred up by this recent cover of Time Magazine demonstrates, breastfeeding can be quite the touchy subject.

4. Re-gifting presents. Christopher Shea of the Wall Street Journal argues that the negative association attached to re-gifting presents is based on a simple misunderstanding.

5. Artistic skin-branding and scarring. Though the practice has been common in many cultures around the world, it’s now illegal in parts of the U.S.

6. Being alone. In what is probably my favorite read on the list, Susan J. Matt argues that loneliness is far more prevalent than we think, and is misrepresented because of our refusal to admit when we’re experiencing it. She also discusses the impact of social media sites like Facebook.

7. Showing childbirth in Hollywood. Steve Knopper points out how the one thing you can’t show on the big screen is a woman giving birth. This, according to Knopper, is Hollywood’s last taboo.

8. Openly discussing mental illness. Similar to divorce and being alone, mental illness remains a topic we don’t like to share with others. Author John McManamy started a blog in hope of offering a solution.

What do you think?

Is this a fairly exhaustive list or are there other important ones we’re leaving out?


*Photo Credit: Sabeth718 (Creative Commons)

This week’s topic (also known as the Weekly Curiosity) is taboos. Check back each weekday at 12:34pm for a new post exploring this idea. In the meantime, here are three ways you can join the quest:

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1 Comment

  • Tara Says

    1) divorce does NOT mean you are damaged goods.
    2) streaking is dumb
    3) Breast-feeding in public is fine – but it’s the gawkers that have the problem.
    4)no problem with re-gifting if someone else can use what i can’t.
    5) what’s the difference than a tattoo? I don’t see it other than a personal preference.
    6) this is the hardest one. No one wants to talk about it. Some it’s a choice, other’s it’s not. some thrive, some do not. it’s an individual issue NOT a taboo. I saw a poster once in a church that said — “Despite what you’ve read, God loves singles too” and it showed a picture of Noah’s Ark.
    7) while it’s a beautiful thing, it’s personal and not something that i feel needs to be shared with everyone. If YOU want to see it, either get pregnant and invest in a good mirror or get someone pregnant and stick with them through the pain to get to the glory.
    8) mental illness – outside of substance abuse, I would have to say this should NOT be taboo. People are not able to help themselves if they don’t know they are sick and/or unable to control certain aspects of their lives. Education of those around them and compassionate inividuals will lead all to a better life.

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