Greta Christina has a good essay up on the Blowfish Blog on sexual perspective and the reasons we aren’t very accepting as a culture of other people’s sexual tastes:

So unless you’re pathologically stubborn, you eventually learn perspective. You figure out that, as much as you may personally dislike broccoli or blue cheese, Wagner or Western Swing, people who eat it/ listen to it are not mentally deranged. (Or the reverse: that as much as you may personally enjoy these delights, people who don’t like them are not pathologically cut off from the one true source of pleasure and meaning.) People still do sometimes make personal judgments about others based on their tastes in food and music; but those judgments don’t usually result in people being sent to the county jail or the loony bin.

But when it comes to sex, most of us don’t get that kind of training. People don’t come back to work on Mondays and chat about how they tried spanking over the weekend, they way they’ll chat about how they tried a new Moroccan restaurant or went to see a German funk band their brother told them about. They don’t go to parties and share a funny story about the new buttplug they just bought, the way they’ll tell a funny story about trying to make a salmon souffle for their in-laws or the weird harpist who opened for Radiohead. (Well, they sometimes do at my parties . . . but you know what I mean.) Most of us haven’t been regaled with myriad and varied stories about exactly what kinds of sex other people like, and why exactly they like it.

It’s better now than it once was, by a long shot. The amount of sexual information that’s easily available today far surpasses anything I had when I was young. But most of us still don’t get exposed to a widely varied range of sexual tastes . . . not the way we get exposed to a barrage of different tastes in music and food, simply as part of everyday life.

And I think that casual barrage is exactly what we need to break through the intensely personal, intensely visceral nature of our sensual experience and give us perspective on it. It’s what we need to teach us that other people really and truly feel differently about sex than we do.

I have to agree with this as a matter of personal anecdote. Although I considered myself a fairly free-thinking and tolerant guy when I started this sex blog more than five years ago, some of the distancing remarks in my old archived posts (like this one, where I was obviously anxious to express my distaste for bukkake) make me wince in embarrassment now, so clear is it to me that I was uncomfortable with the sexual diversity I was reporting on. But the constant barrage of sexual information that I’ve processed in the course of writing this blog has given me much of the perspective Greta is writing about. The most unusual sexual practices now typically strike me as no more problematic than a taste for live grubs or pickled beets — I’d strongly prefer not to have any, thanks, but I’m not disturbed or surprised (ok, still a little surprised, sometimes) that somebody else finds enjoyment there.