Women are more sensitive to taboos than men

Women are more sensitive to taboos than men

6th November 2010, Comments 2 comments

Taboos come and go in the Netherlands, but according to experts one thing always stays the same: women are more sensitive to taboos than men.

Experts and trendwatchers discussed  taboos at a symposium at Tilburg University last week.

Top 100

While some taboos disappear, they are replaced by others. Expert Marchel Maassen has listed the top 100 most frequent taboos.

"Smoking has become a taboo in some circles. I know for certain that people change their smoking habits, because they fear negative reactions from friends."

One of the most remarkable things about taboos, according to Mr Maassen is the difference between men and women: "Women are much more sensitive to taboos than men. There are 50 taboos that are very important to women, but men only have two: crying at work and discovering you have homosexual feelings."

New taboo

Trendwatcher Justien Marseille predicts a new taboo, “manly behaviour”, as a result of aging. Both men and women take on more feminine characteristics as the years go on, explains Ms Marseille. That means competitiveness will make way for cooperation.

"As we will have more and more men and women above the age of 45 compared to young people there will simply be more oestrogen and more femininity in society. That could lead to a taboo on everything that is manly."

This might mean men being forced to sit on the toilet when they urinate rather than stand. It is likely that urinating in a standing position will be added to the list of taboos in the future.

Current list of taboos

Dutch people are known for their free sexual morals, nevertheless there are six subjects related to sex in the taboo top ten. Top of the list is having sexual desires towards your own child.


Top ten taboos in the Netherlands

1. Having sexual desires towards your own child.
2. Abusing your partner or children.
3. Stealing something valuable from your employer.
4. Neglecting or abusing your pet.
5. Making unwanted sexual advances towards colleagues.
6. Needing alcohol to function at work.
7. Having an extramarital relationship.
8. Visiting a prostitute.
9. Having a sexually transmitted disease.
10. Exerting physical/psychological pressure on your partner for sex.

This is a list of the main taboos of both men and women in the Netherlands. Taboos concerning homosexual feelings and crying at work, which mostly men tend to fear, are in position 50 and 57 in the top 100.


Johan van der Tol/ RNW

Photo credit: Ciudadano Poeta, flickr.com 

2 Comments To This Article

  • Geoff Naylor posted:

    on 10th November 2010, 12:00:46 - Reply

    Does this article suggest that men are more left wing, or socially sensitive, than women?
    Most people are aware that as the average person gets older their voting tendency shifts noticeably to the right; they become more conservative if you like. If, as it says here, men become more like women as they age, that would seem to prove that men are less conservative.
    A logical conclusion I would think.
    Geoff Naylor
  • Steve posted:

    on 10th November 2010, 11:57:51 - Reply

    What's wrong with urinating standing up?!
    Women would if they could.
    OK some half do..