7400.201 Courtship Marriage and the Family
Topic 4 - Sexuality
I am assuming that everyone agrees that talking about a subject is pretty harmless. Sometimes people are a little anxious about this part of the course. But if we treat the subject scientifically, we will be fine. For openers, Sexuality is a concept that has far reaching consequences, aside from any moral or ethical ones (not that morality is unimportant). Who is having sex and what is the history of the behavior?
Like gender roles, sex is social as well as biological. And as there is in gender roles, there is variation in sexual orientation. Most people are heterosexual, preferring male-female sexual relations only. Well over ten million Americans are exclusively homosexual and many more than that have had some homosexual experience. Apart from their differing preferences for relationships, however, heterosexuals and homosexuals share many of the same meanings of sex.
Human love, according to Erich Fromm, does not reflect a Freudian sexual instinct. Rather, the need for intimacy has primacy over sex. Intimacy is a more fundamental need than the need for sex. Sexual relations may be seen as one way to fulfill intimacy needs. Actually, most people seem to sense the fact that sex needs to be an expression of an intimate relationship. Sexual activity is a natural expression of feelings of intimacy.
Some Sexuality Background
This table appears to show an increasing number of younger people experiencing sexual activity over the last half of the 20th century, particularly during the 1980s and 90s. Similarly, by 1978, among unmarried college aged women - 83% reported being sexually active - the rise occurring in areas of casual dating, as well as the normally sexual going steady and engaged statuses. 56% reported sexual intercourse by age nineteen. However, The percentage of high school students having sex has continued to decline, falling from 54 percent of all teens in 1991 to 46 percent in 2001. At the same time, the percentage of sexually active teens who reported using drugs or alcohol before their last sexual encounter increased slightly during from 22 percent in 1991 to 26 percent in 2001. from The Percentage of Teens Having Sex Continues to Decline Internet. What are we to make of these statistics? Clearly, teenagers and young adults are becoming more intelligent about their sexual choices, if less direct experience is any indication. It is doubtful that lack of opportunity is the cause of less widespread sexual experience, and more likely that young people are simply observing the consequences from their older siblings and friends.
Continuing - Statistics from public opinion surveys of all adult women suggest:
6% said they would leave the relationship ... 19% said they would seek out other lovers.
Additionally, 66% feel positive about their sexual performance ..... 40% sometimes want intercourse without cuddling
72% sometimes want cuddling and foreplay without intercourse.
We've established that sexuality, particularly among members of American society, is seen as an important aspect of the culture. One's sexuality is a personal and private attribute, but one in which that people find significant meaning. We will demonstrate later that much of the meaning we find in our sexuality comes from our primary significant relationship - marriage.
Human Sexual Anatomy and
Sex Drive (see your
Female <---------------------> Male
Clitoris <---------------------> Penis
Clitoral Hood <-------------------> Foreskin
Ovaries <---------------> Testicles
Ovum Delivery<------>Sperm Delivery
Biological/Physical/Sexual Foundations of Human Social Life:
All humans have
DRIVE - more in some
and less in others - but present in every person in varying levels over
the life span. The sex drive can be conceptualized as biological
(Freudians refer to it as libido) that is most efficiently used in
of and engagement in sexual activity. Although sex is
one of the basic drives in humans, the expression of sex is still a
phenomenon. Both gender roles and gender-role orientation affect sexual
Gender-role orientations may also influence sexual behavior. A number
different motives enter into sexual behavior.
In accommodating the sex drive, human behavior will be affected by three biological needs. These are FACTS about human sexual capabilities:
These principles have
marketing, morality, governmental sanctions, and sometimes moral
outrages. Note that these principles are merely biological drives
that may or may not be acted upon. In fact, the nice thing about
being human is that we have the intellectual capability of recognizing
that not all biological urges have to be acted upon.
In addition to the biological measurement data, these pioneers of sex research also speculated and documented sexual problems (dysfunction) and the emotions attached to sexuality. For example, they found that poor sexual communication is, from the sex researchers' data, one of the chief barriers to open sexual expression between lovers. Rigid social and personal values is another. Since many Americans have been socialized to think of sex in the context of a wide range of moral and health issues, we may not always find the person who matches exactly our personal expectations about sex. Without adequate education and a vocabulary for the discussion of sexual matters, as well as our personal needs and desires, a person most likely will encounter difficulty in the expression and understanding of their sexuality.
Understanding the opposite
likely view of sexuality.
Similarly, men tend to think of sex as an activity - something that happens in a specific time frame (such as between favorite television programs), while women tend to think of sex as a state of being - a relationship that contains a sexual side or element. For example, two people might meet, become friends, and even come to hold the idea of the other person in affectionate terms. Within the context of that relationship, the moment the two engage in more or less explicit sexuality, the relationship will likely appear different. For men, they would be likely to see themselves in a sexual relationship now - one that wasn't sexual before. For women, a sexual relationship is too specific a term for a relationship that contains a sexual component. For women, they are likely to see every aspect of the relationship to have changed once the couple moves into a sexual realm.
Coming at sexuality from different gender specific points of view, there are really only three ways to achieve complete sexual satisfaction:
Here's a little thought experiment to test this idea. Imagine you have a sweetie pie who is attractive, loving, sexy, and willing. Suppose your perfect soul mate, did something to badly offend you just now. Now imagine having sex with them knowing that they'd hurt your feelings. It isn't easy to imagine, is it? Just for informational purposes, the frequency of intercourse is highest among newlyweds and steadily decreases over the duration of a marriage. Also - single people at any age have sex less often (with less variety and continuity) than married people, on the average.
The Human Sexual Response Cycle
There are very real gender differences in the way men and women experience the HSC.
For women - the capability of multiple orgasms and the ability to respond to sexual stimulation sooner after orgasm are two differences. Women tend to take a little longer to become Aroused, and the time from Excitement to Plateau often takes longer than for men ( a few minutes longer ).
I - The Excitement Phase - or foreplay - wait!!! What should we have done before we begin this Phase???? That's right, considered our contraceptive options and chosen the one that best suits our relationship.
Physiological Response - arousal consists of penile erection in the male and vaginal vasocongestion (lubrication) in the female. This is a basic response to the human species (and a pleasurable one too). The beginnings of cardiovascular increases continues as individual is stimulated. Often partners experience a sex flush (beats three of a kind).
What do Americans find sexually stimulating? Sensory stimulation - sight, hearing, aromas, tastes, and TOUCHING . As long as the condition is culturally defined as a sex one, it will be stimulating.
3. Sexy Sounds - particularly talking and "paralanguage" are sources of stimulation, if performed in indirect ways. If a couple has difficulty talking about sex, paralanguage is a way to communicate your likes and dislikes during foreplay/excitement. "There, ahhhhh, yes, yes, yes, Oh god, Oh Ronnie, Oh Pam! Oooooooooooooohhhhhhhhaaaaaaahhh. You get the idea. Also soft lighting and Luther Vandross albums help set the scene..
4. Smell and taste - cleanliness is the best aphrodisiac. Deodorants, mouthwashes , colognes, are methods of attraction and sources for sexual stimulation. Soap and water - the taste of clean skin!
There is no known formula for insuring excitement, therefore one must be sensitive to one's partner and play it by ear (or toe or thumb or inner thigh). IMPORTANT to remember - during the excitement and plateau stages - the clitoris (women) and penis (men) are delicate little things, and can be easily over- stimulated when directly massaged.
Since we can exclude mind reading, GUIDANCE - verbal and nonverbal - is the Best (probably the only) way to make sex work really well - almost every time.
II.. The Plateau Phase
Physiological symptoms: General muscle tension (myotonia), Penis fully erect, vagina well lubricated, labia swollen and ready for penetration. It's ShowTime! WE ARE PRIMED FOR SERIOUS SEXUAL INTERACTION!!! This is the thrashing about / heavy petting portion of sex. When it comes to moving from the Plateau Stage to the Orgasm stage, Friction is our Best Friend. Direct stimulation of the genitals is most likely to bring orgasm the quickest, but that is not always the point. We aren't in a race here, unless we are teenagers sitting in our parents living room.
b. Face-to-Face Woman Above - the most likely intercourse position for female orgasm - she has so much freedom to guide her movements with two hundred pounds of manhood BENEATH her. Also allows the woman a more active part. 75% couples use this one.
c. Face-to-Face Side by Side - freedom of movement for both partners. Less chance for muscle cramps, more relaxed position for maintaining the Plateau Phase. Less likelihood of achieving orgasm quickly.
d. Rear entry - Not on women's orgasm top 10 list - is useful for couples attempting to become pregnant because penetration is maximized and sperm have a shorter distance to travel. Another pregnancy potential optimizer is use the f-f man above position and slip a pillow or two under the woman's bottom.
c. Oral-Genital Stimulation - fellatio and cunnilingus. Redbook Magazine Survey - largely young married women is the readership
Physiological response - a pulsating, spasmodic release of sexual tension. While the genitals are most affected with sensations, the entire body can be visibly shaken. Loss of voluntary muscle control. Blood rate, heart rate, breathing rate all reach a peak.
2. The male orgasm consists of two events:
Physiological Symptoms: organs & body return to normal status. Traditionally the position for sexual activity has been the missionary position - male-on-top. This position, coupled with the female's heritage for non-enjoyment of sex, and the female's historically passive role in lovemaking means that She expends less energy, on the average during sex than he does. Thus: The complaint that "He gets through with me and then rolls over and goes to sleep. I want to be held and cuddled."
Interestingly, any given female subject could respond to sexual stimuli along any of the three paths - depending on a myriad of factors - including the feeling she had for her lover and her ability to focus on the event. Thus, women were/are much more complex than previously thought. This is news to anyone who would like to be (or have) a superior sex partner where women are concerned.
Sexual Problems - How much sex is enough? Surveys tell us that frequency of sexual activity seems to vary by age. On the average for:
However, most sexual problems not related to the quality of the relationship tend to stem from inexperience and lack of education. Sometimes sexual dysfunction has its root cause in past experience, instances of sexual abuse, or psychological problems from past relationships. They may also be physiological in nature. The five most frequently cited sexual dysfunctions are:
2. Premature Ejaculation - going from arousal directly to orgasm - mostly a male problem - anxiety and inexperience is the common cause, and fear of failure is the culprit of continued problems. Without the ability to talk fairly frankly, solution is difficult. There are some techniques used for teaching control, see a sex therapist or other qualified instructor. PE is easily remedied - and widely encountered, especially among younger males.
3. Vaginismus - female-involuntary contraction of the outer vaginal muscles, making penetration very difficulty and painful. Remedy is patience, understanding, and non-demanding practice and possibly therapy. A
4. Impotence - inability of male to achieve or maintain erection - if psychological it is easily detected and treated. If physiological, will require medical intervention - blood pressure, diabetes.
5. Female Orgasmic Dysfunction - similar to premature ejaculations in the cure. Symptoms are an inability to achieve orgasm and a concomitant disinterest in sex. Other Issues in Sexuality
50% of all men currently married admit to having cheated at least once.
25% of all women now married have cheated at least once.
25% of all men make it a practice to cheat
2.5% of all women make it a practice to cheat
25% of the women who cheated loved the man
63% of women who cheated repeated the experience more than once.
Health Risks of Sex in the 90's
Sexually Transmitted Diseases: (a.k.a. "Venereal Diseases) There are about 26 different diseases, rashes, and infections known to be transmitted through intercourse, heavy petting, and/or oral sex. Most are neither dangerous or life-threatening. Here are a few of the most common and/or dangerous to your health, listed at the far right of the page --->:
AIDS is cause by the Human
Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It primarily
affects you by making you unable to fit other diseases.
No matter what you may have heard the AIDS virus easy to avoid. For a time during the hysteria about AIDS, there were questions about whether or not the virus could be carried by mosquitoes that had just feasted on an HIV positive person. STD's are hard to transmit! You don't become infected from clothes, telephones, toilet seats, kissing, saliva, sweat, tears, or from giving blood. The AIDS virus is transmitted through:
Of all the contraceptive technology, only condoms provide any protection against STD's. Keep in mind that this protection is minimal, at best, and must be used every single time. How Do You Approach the Subject of STD's with Potential Sex Partners?
First, be selective in your choices for sex partners. Know them well and know their history. Wait to begin a sexual relationship until you are ready - then only proceed after all the contraceptive choices are discussed (this will mean condoms for most of you!). Think of it this way: You are about to engage in one of the most intimate activities known to Western Culture. Do you really want to have sex with someone unwilling to use a condom? No glove - no love! Talking about safe sex requires the same trust that engaging in meaningful relationships requires. Telling someone you'd die for them is a dramatic gesture, but usually a completely needless demand.
Contraceptives - See http://www.aafp.org/afp/20040215/853.html for the latest medical opinions about contraceptives.
There are Four Methods of Contraception:
Abstinence - Though not particularly popular in these days of instant gratification, abstaining from some (or all) forms of sexual activity is being rediscovered by many. Usually abstinence is not even mentioned as a situational lifestyle. Some people are actually returning to abstinence after their initial forays into the sexual frontier.
Spermicide, often placed in carriers such as vaginal sponges, suppositories, jellies and creams. Alone, spermicides do a pretty good job of reducing/preventing pregnancy if used as directed. However they offer no real protection against the sexually transmitted disease. Spermicides are best used in combination with condoms.
(IUD) 97% effective - $90
for device, $65 a year for doctor visits. Technology - made of plastic
or copper/steel, the device is placed in the uterus inhibiting the
of a fertilized egg. The Uterine wall is irritated, making cervical
hostile to sperm.
Barrier Methods-Diaphragm -
- $170 for the
doctor's visits and spermicide.
Condom - 98% effective - cost $3 to $6 a dozen. Technology - prevents passage of sperm to female. Advantages - available without a prescription at low cost. Not side effects, protects against AIDS and other STD's. Disadvantages - lovemaking must be interrupted to use, reduces sexual pleasure in some men.
Sterilization-Tubal Ligation - 100% effective - requires surgery ($1000). This is a permanent situation, although reversals are possible. Vasectomy - 100% effective - requires surgery ($350). permanent. 5. OTHER METHODS (NOT ADVISED)!
Not mentioned as a form of contraception are: Natural Family Planning (a.k.a. the Rhythm method) calendar based on the woman's menstrual cycle, basal body temperature, cervical mucous observation - 50-70% effective - no cost - requires abstinence during woman's fertile period. Advantages - does not violate religious rules against artificial birth control, requires no medication or devices. Disadvantages - restricts sexual activity to specific time of woman's menstrual cycle, much less reliable, requires strict discipline from couples. Withdrawal - highly unreliable - sperm may be present in fluids secreted before ejaculation.
Innovations in Birth Control:
Pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases have been increasing among teenagers.
The majority of
teenagers become sexually active between the ages of sixteen and
nineteen. Substantial numbers begin sexual activity earlier. The
proportion of sexually active teenagers declined in the mid-1990s, for
the first time in two decades. The probability of being sexually active
varies according to race and ethnicity and other demographic
variables. One of the consequences of teenage sex is a high rate
of unwanted pregnancies and giving birth at an early age. Many
teenagers give birth to children who are unwanted at the time of
conception, in part because the mother is unmarried.
Birth control measures are readily available in most communities, but no contraceptive is foolproof, many young people fail to use birth control, not all teenagers find the prospect of pregnancy to be unsettling, certain parental attitudes and behaviors significantly reduce the likelihood of out- of-wedlock pregnancy, and the chances of pregnancy are much higher if a girl is going steady and if she has had discipline problems in school.
Whether wanted or not, the children of teenagers differ in important ways from other children. Teenagers who father or give birth to children are more likely that those who become parents at later ages to experience a variety of negative consequences. This is not to say that all children of teenage parents have negative outcomes. Clearly, little positive can be said for teenage pregnancy and childbearing.
Premarital sex occurs in all societies. One outcome of the power struggle in terms of interactions between men and women is the double standard, a long-standing fixture of American society that favors male interests. To some extent, the double standard has changed: Premarital sexual activity is nearly as acceptable for females as for males. Although the double standard accepted the fact that most boys would have premarital sexual experience, it did not mean that such behavior was considered ideal. Whether people believe that premarital sex is wrong depends on sex, age, education, race, and religion.
Attitudes do not necessarily reflect behavior.
Most Americans say that a good sex life is
very important to a successful marriage.
Clearly, most Americans practice fidelity but many people engage in extramarital sex. Many married people fantasize about what it would be like to have sex with someone other than their spouse, but fantasies are not usually enough to motivate someone to have extramarital sex. For women, the main motivator seems to be a sense of emotional need; for men, it is more likely to be a purely sexual motivation. On the positive side, some people report that the extramarital experience provided them with a brief, but meaningful thrill, but there is also the possibility of crisis in marriage if the extramarital activity is discovered. Various outcomes of infidelity are possible, including divorce.