Jan. 17, Global Q&A: “What subjects in your country are taboo to discuss with someone you don’t know well?”
Domestic violence, intimate relationships, and poverty are sensitive topics in some circles. This is what Epoch Times reporters from Slovakia to Chile discovered when they asked locals: “What subjects in your country are taboo to discuss with someone you don’t know well?”
Susanne Algotsson, 40, Assistant Nurse
Hmm … I can ask about their occupation and even salary is not so sensitive to ask about anymore. I would not ask people at my workplace what they earn, but in society, that is okay nowadays. I would not ask a person about their relationship with his or her partner.
Daniel Pappas, 24, Youth Pastor
I’d say any major moral thing, something like abortion or gay marriage. It’s something that is easy to talk about in headlines, but hard to talk about one-on-one with a person, because it just tends to be prickly because you just don’t know their background or their experiences or personal preferences. So, I reckon that’s a prickly one to bring up with someone you don’t know well.
Milan Pekár, 28, Artist
I think that nowadays no subject is taboo anymore, unlike during our past (before 1989 when there was a communist regime in Slovakia), when one had to be careful about everything one said.
Madiha Sandhu, 35, Freelance Designer/Textile Designer
With someone you don’t know well, you can’t talk about sex. It is hard having a conversation about physical relations. Menses is another topic that is taboo and pregnancy matters, especially in mixed company. Domestic abuse is also a very sensitive topic, and very few women have an awareness of their basic rights, or that they even have a way out. There is a lot of societal pressure about maintaining respect within the family, and community, and saving face. On another level, people of my generation would not even know that talking could help them, or that they even have a problem, say like depression.
Carolina Vergara, 30, Executive Secretary
Intimate relationships between couples is taboo in my country. I think the source is the education they get at home. Most of our mothers were raised thinking about sex as prostitution. And I don’t even think the information we receive in school is good, where they teach about our sexual organs, their functions, sexual relations within and outside marriage, pregnancy and abortion, but not about [the] intimate relationship in a couple. As adults, it is best not to touch the subject. I feel that by changing things as basic as education, we could grow up feeling that the issue is not bad, not filthy, but is a worthy subject.
Adela Boniface, 18, Secondary School Student
Issues we don’t discuss with strangers are health problems, such as if someone is HIV positive or not—people don’t discuss it that much. And also people don’t talk about certain individuals or a group of people conducting themselves badly, like a political leader or leaders, how they are doing, etcetera.
Laura Baban, 22, Journalism Masters Student
I guess it’s taboo to talk about poverty in Romania: About second-hand [purchases], about necessary books borrowed from the library instead of being bought, about the ‘wonderful’ weekend spent with the neighbors; about music, movies, and game piracy, about not going to yearly medical consults or a monthly visit to the dentist.
Olga Gutierrez Arroyo, 40, Administrator
Here in my country, there is no taboo subject because there is freedom of expression. A different thing is what you should say regarding good manners and common sense. Concerning religion, there is nothing really to discuss, you either believe or not. Also, talking about religion often leads to political issues, and these are very sensitive to bring up when you talk to someone you don’t know.
Juan Pablo Morales, 18, Student
I think that in my country what's taboo isn’t a subject that people don’t want to talk about. Taboo for us is actually what is frowned upon by society, for example, if you use drugs or if someone is in another kind of religion that is not common, people see that as taboo.
New York, USA
Lincoln Boehm, 23, Ad Copywriter
Money, sex, anything that is too opinionated like religion or politics.
Carmen Rosa Martinez, 50, Fashion Designer
A taboo subject for me is inside politics, because of the partisan option, especially referring to corruption. I couldn’t talk about this with a person if I didn’t get to know him/her well; for example, talking about a corrupt president with someone implicated in government and the possibility that he may govern again. I wouldn’t talk about this because it could hurt that other person’s feelings.
Wellington, New Zealand
[A taboo subject is] family sexual abuse, but I think in our country, pretty much people are open to discuss[ing] nearly everything really, except for private details. When I said sexual abuse before? I actually think there are such caring people around; you could probably just talk to them about that sort of thing. You can pretty much talk about anything, and well, you find that most people just want to help.
Look for the Global Q&A column every week. Epoch Times correspondents interview people around the world to learn about their lives and perspectives on local and global realities. Next week’s global question: “What are you looking forward to?”