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Chapter One. Perspectives on Human Sexuality. Group Activity . “Discussing Sex”. Using the Textbook Real-time.

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chapter one

Chapter One

Perspectives on Human Sexuality

group activity
Group Activity

“Discussing Sex”

using the textbook real time
Using the Textbook Real-time
  • Identify current media stories (newspapers, magazines, or TV), talk shows, or specials relating to human sexuality. Relate this to the appropriate chapter in the textbook or lecture. How accurate is the material?
sexuality in popular culture is shaped by the mass media so we should ask
Sexuality in Popular Culture Is Shaped by the Mass Media, So We Should Ask:
  • What kinds of sexuality are portrayed by the media?
  • What messages about sexuality are sent?
  • Who are the messages intended for?
  • What messages are ignored or avoided?
  • What shapes the selection by the media?
mass media portrayals of sexuality occur in multiple forms
Mass Media Portrayals of Sexuality Occur in Multiple Forms
  • Television
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Magazines, tabloids, books
  • Hand held technology
  • World Wide Web
  • Advertising
media portrayals of sexuality
Media Portrayals of Sexuality:
  • Sell products
  • Produce sexual arousal
  • Increase sexual behavior
  • Provide sexual information
    • Correct or incorrect ?
media effects live by
Media Effects Live by:
  • Keeping sexual behavior visible
  • Reinforcing sexual and relationship norms
  • Including irresponsible models
mass media depictions are meant to entertain not inform
Mass-media Depictions Are Meant to Entertain, Not Inform
  • Rarely present reality scenarios
  • Perpetuate the status quo
mass media depictions are meant to entertain not inform1
Mass-media Depictions Are Meant to Entertain, Not Inform

“The various media present the social context of sexuality…” these messages “tell us what behaviors are appropriate, with whom they are appropriate, and why they are appropriate”.

  • Increasing exposure
  • Increasing sexual content
  • Rare presentation of risk
  • Rare presentation of responsible action
  • Unrealistic presentation of sexuality
  • Media reflect and reproduce stereotypical and unequal but changing gender roles
  • Influences the way men and women view themselves
  • TV is a major source of sex information for teens
  • Influences the way men and women view themselves
  • Objectification of women in skimpy clothing – negative impact on the development of adolescent girls in self-esteem and self image?
  • FCC regulation of public airwaves
  • Enforces regulations via fines
  • Responds to public grievances
  • Does not regulate cable
  • Possibility of parental control with V-chip technology
      • Educate parents
      • Allow blocking of programs based on ratings
television genres
Reality Shows

Comedy series

Soap Operas

Crime/action-adventure programs

Drama series


Music videos



Television Genres
television genres emphasize different types of content
Television Genres Emphasize Different Types of Content
  • Reality Shows – Foster unrealistic expectations, behaviors with no consequences. (clip courtesy of “Flavor of Love”)
  • Comedy series – Taboos
  • Soap Operas – Sexual transgressions
  • Crime/action – Sexual variation
  • Drama series – Situations
television genres emphasize different types of content cont
Television Genres Emphasize Different Types of Content (cont.)
  • Commercials – Attitudes (video on Sex in Advertising Mind Control)
  • Music Videos – Individual expression
    • Dreamworlds 3: Desire, Sex & Power in Music Video (Exploitation and Aggression?)
  • Games – Exploitation & aggression
      • Video games promote sexist and violent attitudes toward women
  • Other – Variations
    • Note absence of risk or responsibility
feature length films
Feature Length Films
  • Sexy content
  • Nudity
    • Sexual double standard ?
    • Vulnerability
    • Rare presentations of risk or responsibility
glbt people in the media
GLBT People in the media
  • Historically absent from mainstream films
  • Historically presented stereotypically
    • Gay man stereotype
    • Lesbian woman stereotype
  • New trend to present GLBT in positive ways
    • New cable network LOGO
  • Media should present healthy sexual relationships
phone sex dial a porn
Phone Sex : Dial-a-Porn
  • Commercial telephone sex lines that enable the caller to anonymously “talk dirty” with someone
  • Phone worker is paid to respond to the caller’s fantasies
  • Creates a sense of “pseudo-intimacy” with the voice
online sexual activities
Online Sexual Activities
  • Global (adult web pages online)
  • Cybersex – real-time sexual activities
    • Popularity due to 3A’s
      • Access
      • Affordability
      • Anonymity
  • Online sex Web sites/chat rooms (ex. Babblesex)
  • Meet new partners (ex. Adult Friend Finder)
online sexual activities effect on culture
Online Sexual Activities Effect on Culture
  • Crosses distance
  • Promotes intimacy without physical contact
  • Creates a new level of plasticity and expression
  • Positive for expression of under represented groups
  • Negative if it becomes compulsive or addictive
online sexual activities effect on culture1
Online Sexual Activities Effect on Culture
  • Online social networks
    • Surfing the web—major recreational activity
    • Easy to obtain and distribute sexual information
    • Expanded ways for people to meet and interact
    • Well integrated into the daily lives of young adults
    • Means for displaying identity
sexuality across cultures and times
Sexuality Across Cultures and Times
  • What is considered “natural” varies between cultures
      • In America, kissing is considered erotic
      • The Mehinaku of the Amazonian rain forest consider kissing to be a disgusting sexual abnormality
  • Culture molds and shapes our sexual interests.
    • Culture defines how and to what degree we should express our sexual interest.
cultural differences mangaia of polynesia
Cultural Differences: Mangaia of Polynesia
  • Adolescents (13 -14 yrs) are encouraged by adults to experience a high level of sexual desire:
    • Adolescents are instructed on how to please their partner
    • Adolescent boys and girls are instructed by older women via sexual intercourse.
    • A woman may leave a man who does not satisfy her
    • Adolescents are expected to have many sexual experiences prior to marriage
  • Adulthood is marked by a decrease in sexual desire
cultural differences the dani of new guinea
Cultural Differences: The Dani of New Guinea
  • Little interest in sexuality
  • Sex is used only for reproduction
  • Extra relational sex and jealousy is rare
  • Female orgasm is unknown
  • 5 year sexual abstinence between pregnancies
cultural differences victorian americans
Women had reproductive desire rather than sexual desire

Women with sexual desire classified as suffering from “nymphomania, or furor uterinus”

Men were viewed as animal like

Men had raging, uncontrollable sexual appetites and their sexual indiscretions were expected.

Cultural Differences: Victorian Americans
victorian americans long lasting effects
Victorian Americans: Long Lasting Effects
  • The polar beliefs about women and men and sexual desire lead to the separation of “love” and “sex”.
  • Women’s responsibility to tame men’s impulses, men could not control their sexual desires.
  • This belief and system of practice began the sexual double standard for men and women where men are sexually aggressive and women are sexually passive.
Sexual Orientation: The Pattern of Sexual and Emotional Attraction Based on the Gender of One’s Preferred Partners
  • Heterosexuality: sexual and emotional attraction between men and women
  • Homosexuality: sexual and emotional attraction between persons of the same sex
  • Bisexuality: sexual and emotional attraction between both males and females
contemporary american culture
Contemporary American Culture
  • Heterosexuality is the only sexual orientation receiving full social and legal legitimacy
  • State by state recognition of civil unions
  • Same-sex marriages do not generally receive social accepatance.
homosexuality bisexuality and culture ancient greece
Homosexuality, Bisexuality, and Culture: Ancient Greece
  • In ancient Greece, homosexuality was as naturally accepted as heterosexuality is in the US culture today
  • Roles for men in Ancient Greece
    • Highest form of love: Same-sex relationships between men (older mentor and young apprentice)
    • Young men were then socialized into the professional society of other men
    • Men were also expected to be married but were expected to have courtesans
  • Roles of women
    • Child bearing was associated with marriage to continue the family and society.
homosexuality bisexuality and culture sambians of new guinea
Homosexuality, Bisexuality, and Culture: Sambians of New Guinea
  • Sexual orientation is malleable across lifespan, beginning with sexual activity between boys (beginning at age 7-8), betrothal and sexual activity with pre-adolescent girls, then fully involved with adult women in adulthood
  • Semen ingestion is required for a boy to grow into a man
  • Adulthood marks the end of sexual activities between males
gender and culture
Gender and Culture
  • Gender:
    • What makes a person a man or woman goes beyond simple anatomy.
      • Having male and female genitals is anatomical, but does not necessarily make a person a “man” or “woman”. Culture and other factors help to shape masculinity and femininity.
      • Gender is the set of culturally-influenced characteristics associated with being male or female
transsexual and transgender persons
Transsexual and Transgender Persons
  • Transsexual - Genitals and gender identities are discordant
    • A person born with a penis self-identifies as a woman
    • A person born with a vulva and vagina self- identifies as a man
  • Transgendered – Have an appearance and behaviors that do not conform with the gender roles ascribed to a particular sex
transsexual and transgender persons1
Transsexual and Transgender Persons
  • Transgendered
    • These differences may involve cross-dressing only to obtain psychosocial gratification, not sexual gratification as seen in transvestites.
  • Transsexuals may have genitals altered for gender congruency.
transsexual gender and culture two spirits
Transsexual / gender and culture: Two spirits
  • Biological males who assume female dress, gender role, and status
  • Accepted as a “man-woman” and given spiritual status in several cultures worldwide
      • Includes some Native American, Filipino, Lapp, and Indian cultures
      • In South Asia the third gender is known as the hijra, and are regarded as sacred.
      • Some females considered “two-spirit,” but more rare than with males
societal norms and sexuality
Societal Norms and Sexuality
  • Diversity across cultures and times
    • Calls into question what is inherently natural or normal
      • Words like “natural,” “unnatural,” “normal,” and “abnormal” are value judgments
      • They often state how we feel about behaviors, rather than objectively describing those behaviors
natural sexual behavior
Natural Sexual Behavior
  • How do we decide if a sexual behavior is natural or unnatural?
  • What is natural?
  • What is unnatural?
    • “When we label sexual behavior as “natural” or “unnatural” we are typically indicating whether the behavior conforms to our culture’s sexual norms. Our norms appear natural because we have internalized them since infancy”.
normal sexual behavior
Normal Sexual Behavior
  • Behavior that conforms to a group’s average or median patterns of behavior. “Although “normal” has been described to imply “healthy” or “moral” behavior, social scientists use the word strictly as a statistical term.
  • Thus, “NORMAL sexual behavior is a behavior that conforms to a group’s average or median patterns of behavior.”
normal sexual behavior1
Normal Sexual Behavior
  • Many people feel pressure to behave like the statistical norm
  • Ironically, most of us actually don’t know how others behave sexually
    • Most people do not talk about their sexual activities, especially those that they perceive as being outside the norm.
    • If people do talk, they talk about behaviors that comply to the “norm”.
    • Thus, the “conventional” self masks actual feelings, attitudes, and sexual behaviors.
normal sexual behavior2
Normal Sexual Behavior
  • A comparison of “normal” sexual behavior in one culture would be considered “abnormal” by another.
  • There is one concordant belief across most cultures that reproduction between men and women is essential.
sexual behaviors and variations
Sexual Behaviors and Variations
  • Researchers view human sexuality as characterized by sexual variation, i.e. sexual variety and diversity
  • Understand sexual activities as existing on a continuum of frequency and behavior
  • People’s activities can be typical or atypical of the group average—does not necessarily indicate deviance
sexual behaviors and variations1
Sexual Behaviors and Variations
  • Many activities thought of as “deviant” are engaged in by most of us to some degree:
    • Exhibitionism
    • Voyeurism
    • Fetishism
sexual behaviors and variations2
Sexual Behaviors and Variations
  • Standards for evaluating sexual behavior do exist
  • Many sexual behaviors are harmful to oneself
    • Masturbatory asphyxia
    • Rape
    • Child molestation
    • Obscene phone calls
  • Psychological standards for determining the harmfulness of sexual behaviors
    • Issues of coercion
    • Potential harm to oneself or others
    • Personal distress
authors standard
Authors’ Standard
  • The authors of the text believe that the basic standard for judging various sexual activities is:
    • Whether they are between consenting adults
    • Whether they cause harm
  • It is up to the individual to evaluate the ethical or moral aspect of behavior in accordance with his or her values.
  • “Because everyone’s sexuality does not completely overlap with the norm, the only liberating approach is to envision it with some perspective of variation”