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Basic Definitions of Sexuality

Basic Definitions of Sexuality[1]

Some Definitions of Sexuality are[2]:

“... the entire range of feelings and behaviours which human beings have and use as embodied persons in the world, expressing relationship to themselves and others through look, touch, word and action. It includes the combination of our gender (identity and role) and sex (anatomy and physiology) and is co-extensive with personality.” (Joan H. Timmerman’s Sexuality and Spiritual Growth)

“... the personal power to share (physically, psychically, and spiritually) the gift of sharing self. Sharing involves giving and receiving—not giving and getting.” (Roberto and Mary Rosera Joyce)

Human Sexuality

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For more information, surf to: human sexuality refers to the expression of sexual sensation and related intimacy between human beings, as well as the expression of identity through sex and as influenced by or based on sex. There are a great many forms of human sexuality (sexual functions). The sexuality of human beings comprises a broad range of behaviour and processes, including the physiological, psychological, social, cultural, political, and spiritual or religious aspects of sex and human sexual behaviour. Philosophy, particularly ethics and the study of morality, as well as theology, also address the subject. In almost any historical era or culture, the arts, including literary and visual arts, as well as popular culture, present a substantial portion of a given society’s views on sexuality. In most societies and legal jurisdictions, there are legal bounds on what sexual behaviour is permitted. Sexuality varies across the cultures and regions of the world, and has continually changed throughout history.

A large variety of books, educational websites, and local education/support/social organizations exist for various forms of sexuality.

Scope of Human Sexuality

The term human sexuality covers a very wide range including:

Physiological Aspects

Human sexuality can be influenced by hormonal changes in the development of the fetus during pregnancy. Some hypothesize that manner of expression is largely because of genetic predisposition. Others hypothesize it is because of personal experimentation in early life, and thus the establishment of preferences. A less divisive approach recognizes that both factors may have a mutual role to play. Human physiology and gender makes certain forms of sexual expression possible.

Sexual dysfunction addresses a variety of biological circumstances whereby human sexual function is impaired. These manifestations can be in the form of libido diminution or performance limitations. Both male and female can suffer from libido reduction, which can have roots in stress, loss of intimacy, distraction or derive from other physiological conditions.

Performance limitations may most often affect the male in the form of erectile dysfunction. Causes of this may derive from various forms of disease pathology including cardiovascular disease, which can reduce penile blood flow along with supply of blood to various parts of the body. Moreover environmental stressors such as prolonged exposure to elevated sound levels or over-illumination can also induce cardiovascular changes especially if exposure is chronic.

Sexual behaviour can be a dangerous disease vector. Safe sex and monogamy are relevant harm reduction philosophies.

Social Aspects

Human sexuality can also be understood as part of the social life of humans, governed by implied rules of behaviour and the status quo. Thus, it is claimed, sexuality influences social norms and society in turn influences the manner in which sexuality can be expressed. Since the invention of the mass media, things such as movies and advertising have given sexuality even more ability to shape the environments in which we live. Some see sexuality as distilled (often into stereotypes) and then repeatedly expressed in commercialized forms.

Gender identity is an aspect of human sexuality that can be affected by one’s social environment, and different social environments can have specific attributes they associate with each sex, such as certain types of dress, colours, behaviours. A common example in Western media could be the portrayal of a little boy in blue shorts and a white T-shirt playing with a toy truck, while a girl is shown in a pink dress playing with a doll.

Sex Education

Sex education is the introduction of sexual topics within an educational context. Almost all western countries have some form of sex education, but the nature varies widely. In some countries (such as Australia and much of Europe) “age-appropriate” sex education often begins in pre-school, whereas other countries (notably the USA) leave sex education to the teenage years and even the late teenage years. Sex education covers a whole range of topics from “where do babies come from?”, contraception, abstinence, signs of sexual diseases, and the social and psychological implications of sexual relationships.

Cultural and Psychiatric Aspects

Human sexual behaviour in most individuals is typically influenced, or heavily affected by norms from the culture in which the individual lives. Examples of such norms are prohibitions on sexual intercourse before marriage, or against homosexual sexualities, or other activities, because the religion to which the individual’s culture adheres forbids such activities (see taboo). Sometimes, if not most times, such culturally induced behaviours do not reflect the natural sexual inclinations of the individual.

Those who wish to express a dissident sexuality are often forced to form sub-cultures within the main culture due to various forms of oppression or repression. In other cases, forms of sexuality may develop into a fetish or alternately develop as a form of psychiatric disorder or paraphilia.

  1. Extracted from “Transforming Attitudes Towards Sexuality – a module for Asian women”, pg. 14 & 15. The module is published by Asian Women’s Resource Centre for Culture and Theology, 2002.
  2. Ditto.