Between men and women there is no friendship possible. There is passion,
enmity, worship, love, but no friendship.
– Oscar Wilde, writer (1854-1900)
Strange, I believe, for someone whose sexuality went against the norm to express an opinion about relationships between the sexes with such conviction.
Wilde’s opinion certainly went with the flow of society on this subject, though on many others it didn’t. He lived during the Victorian period of England, the glory days of the great British Empire.
These days the Victorian period is best known in some circles for its severe restrictions and limitations about what was acceptable and what was not in human relationships, especially between the sexes.
What it preferred to express no opinion about was homosexuality, which made Victorian nobility so aghast that the subject dare not be mentioned in proper company. Not, at least, until Wilde flaunted his homosexuality and was charged by the police. The social darling that so many loved became a social outcast when his homosexuality became public knowledge.
The inhibitions of Victorian England were so strong that people became convinced that nearly everyone was a closet sex maniac waiting to be outed and exposed given the opportunity to have unapproved sex. Similar thinking today forces women in some Muslim countries to wear burqas that cover every possible part of skin that could be exposed.
Not that sexuality wasn’t exploited in some parts of England. Paper flyers of the day show drawings of women bare to the waist inviting men to visit entertainment parlours in certain parts of London and other cities to see dancing, acting and supposed other eventualities.
Today’s relaxed attitude toward sexuality, relationships and sexual preferences has shown that once sex is removed from the restricted zone of topics able to be discussed between men and women friendship is indeed possible.
In the Netherlands, where prostitution and exposure of bare skin in public is the least restrictive in the western world, not only is friendship between men and women more common and widely accepted, rape is much lower than in most western countries.
The problem or question of friendship between men and women, it seems, was not that it wasn’t possible, but that society raised the risk factor to the highest level, thus making unapproved sex between unmarried men and women more exciting and more of a challenge. Sex, it was thought, was on everyone’s mind if not on their lips.
Given the opportunity to engage in friend relationships where sex or the “dangerous” potential of it is not a high priotity, men and women can become the best of friends. In many marriages where sexual tension is not a factor husband and wife can be best friends, something which was not considered likely by Victorian Brits.
The attitude promoting sexual inhibition that carried on from Victorian times surely has done far more harm than good. Today sex crimes are more common and often more violent in places where sex is a public issue of morality.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, striving to put today’s values into perspective with history.
Learn more at http://billallin.com