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Human Sexuality. Chapter 7: Sexuality in Adulthood. Sexuality in Adulthood. Sexual philosophy: Integrating personal, spiritual, religious, philosophical, ideological perspectives on sexuality. Sexuality in Emerging Adulthood. Cultural scripts Moral/religious discourse Familial discourse

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Human Sexuality


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    1. Human Sexuality Chapter 7: Sexuality in Adulthood

    2. Sexuality in Adulthood • Sexual philosophy: • Integrating personal, spiritual, religious, philosophical, ideological perspectives on sexuality

    3. Sexuality in EmergingAdulthood • Cultural scripts • Moral/religious discourse • Familial discourse • Negotiating a personal philosophy of sexuality • How does this happen?

    4. Solidifying Sexual Orientation • Strengthening one’s sexual orientation and gender identity

    5. Relationship Trends Among Adults • More single adults • Single-by-choice: a way of life

    6. Single Adults • Adults are marrying at a later age • 1970: 55% of men aged 20-24 were single • 2006: 84% of men aged 20-24 were single

    7. Relationship TrendsAmong Adults • More sexual experiences prior to marriage • Cohabitation is more accepted and widespread

    8. Relationship TrendsAmong Adults • Greater number of unintended pregnancies • Single motherhood is more common - 30% of families are headed by a single parent

    9. Relationship TrendsAmong Adults • More adults are separated or divorced vs. decades past

    10. The Question of Intimacy • Erik Erikson: • Psychosocial crisis • Intimacy vs. Isolation: the crisis of young adulthood

    11. Priorities in Mate Selection • Similarity • Proximity • Men- rate attractiveness as important • Women- rate success as important • Evolutionary and cultural rationale

    12. Cohabitation • Has become less stigmatized • Most people in their 20s are single

    13. Cohabitation • Typically last 5 years or less • 56% of marriages that took placed in the 90s were preceded by cohabitation (Bramlett, 2002) • Cohabitating couples who marry are at greater risk for divorce (Smock, 2000)

    14. Cohabitation • Cohabitating couples divide housework more than married couples • A “new state of courtship”?

    15. Cohabitation • Domestic partnerships • Common law marriages

    16. Marriage • Average age at first marriage: • 1950: men- 22.8; women- 20.3 • 2005: men: 27.1; women- 25.3

    17. Marriage • Why do people marry? • Personal and cultural needs • Marriage as a social construction • Most young people in the US believe marriage is important (Jayson, 2006)

    18. Marriage:Variations • Arranged marriages • Polygamy • Gay marriage • Consensual adultery (open marriages) • “swinging”

    19. Successful Marriages • Close friendship • Compromise • Maintaining a positive view of one’s spouse • Shared meaning/shared worlds

    20. Marriage: Outcomes • Unhappy marriages: increases the risk of health problems, shortens life expectancy • Happy marriages: increases life expectancy

    21. Changes in the Marital Relationship • Marriages may become better adjusted in middle adulthood • Most older adults report happy marriages

    22. Sexual Orientation • Article Discussion:

    23. Sexuality During theMiddle Adult Years • Divorce rate: • Substantial increase • High expectations of marriage (Furstenberg, 1991; Levine, 2003)

    24. Divorce • Risk factors for divorce: • Youthful marriage • Low educational attainment • Low income • Premarital pregnancy

    25. Sexuality in Middle Adulthood • Children of divorce: • Mixed findings in the research • Long term trauma and distress (Wallerstein, 2000) • Most do not suffer long term trauma (Ahrons, 2004) • The context of the divorce

    26. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • Developmental Concerns: • Biological changes • Loss of a partner • Psychological factors • Cultural perspectives on aging

    27. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • Diversity in reactions: • Increase in competence • Little movement • Seeking new relationships, serious or casual • Little interest in new relationships • Despair

    28. Stereotypes of Aging • Older adulthood: lonely and depressing • No interest in sexuality • Most older adults still regard sexuality as important • Decreases in sexuality activity are more cultural than biological (Kellett, 1991)

    29. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • “cultural illiteracy” regarding aging • the “sexless” old • socially constructed as an asexual period in development

    30. Sexuality in Late adulthood • Research- problems with generalizability • Kinsey- included few older people; 3 pages of 735 were dedicated to older people

    31. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • Age- “slows the human sexual response, does not terminate it” • Sexual activity declines with age, but sex is still important

    32. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • Physiological changes • Women- menopause- reduction in estrogen • Men- slowed/weaker sexual response; erectile dysfunction • Health plays a key role

    33. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • Sexual activity continues in later life • Need for intimacy remains • Considerable individual variation

    34. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • GLBT older adults- maintain sexual interest/activity • Very few studies on this population

    35. Sexuality in Late Adulthood • Methodological problems: • Social desirability- over and underreporting sexual behavior based on gender • Less focus on women, GLBT individuals, and the unmarried • Less open to discussing sexuality?