Varieties of Sexual Expression

What Is “Typical” Sexual Expression?

■ PERSONAL VOICES What Is "Kinky”?

Paraphilias: Moving From Exotic to Disordered

■ HUMAN SEXUALITY IN A DIVERSE WORLD Paraphilias Throughout the World

Theories About Where Paraphilias Begin Describing the Paraphilias

■ PERSONAL VOICES The Story of a Rubber Fetishist

■ PERSONAL VOICES Vanilla’s Okay, But I Prefer Rocky Road

■ PERSONAL VOICES Reactions to an Obscene Telephone Caller

■ PERSONAL VOICES A Cross-Dresser and His (Her?) Wife

■ SEX IN REAL LIFE Megan’s Law

■ PERSONAL VOICES Pedophilia: An Autobiography Assessing and Treating Paraphilias

■ SEX IN REAL LIFE Other Paraphilias

Variations in Sexual Frequency

Hypersexuality: Does Obsession Imply Addiction?

■ SEX IN REAL LIFE Internet Sexual Addiction Hyposexuality: Lacking Desire and Avoiding Sex Variations, Deviations, and Who Gets to Decide?

Chapter Review

Chapter Resources

Sexuality U NOW Go to www. thomsonedu. com to link to SexualityNow, your online study tool.

итап sexuality can be expressed in many different ways. We tend to я я celebrate individual arid cultural differences in most aspects of human

life—in what people eat, how they dress, or how they dance, for exam – pie. Yet we have been less tolerant of sexual diversity, and we have historically considered such behavior “deviant” or “perverted.” More modern views of sexuality, however, do not categorize people as “deviant” versus “normal” but see sexual behavior as a continuum.

For example, the sexual world is not really split into those who become sexually excited from looking at others naked or having sex and those who do not; most people get aroused to some degree from visual sexual stimuli. Some people get more aroused than others, and at the upper limits are those who can get aroused only when watching sex­ual scenes; such people have taken a normal behavior to an extreme. In this chapter we will explore variations of sexual behavior, including differences in sexual desire and the paraphilias.

^ WHAT IS "TYPICAL" SEXUAL EXPRESSION?———————————– ‘

Some medical and sexuality texts still categorize certain kinds of behavior as sexual de­viance. Many undergraduate texts discuss these behaviors in chapters titled abnormal, unusual, or atypical sexual behavior. Yet how exactly do we decide whether a behavior is “normal”? What is “typical” sexual activity? Where do we draw the line? Do we call it “atypical” if 5% of sexually active people do it? Ten percent? Twenty-five percent?

Sexual behaviors increase and decrease in popularity; oral sex, for example, was once considered a perversion, but now the majority of couples report that they engage in it at least occasionally. Perhaps, then, we should consider as “deviant” only behaviors that may be harmful in some way. Yet masturbation was once believed to lead to mental illness, acne, and stunted growth, and now it is considered a normal, healthy part of sex­ual expression. If many of these desires exist to some degree in all of us, then the desire itself is not atypical, just the degree of the desire.

Social value judgments, not science, primarily determine which sexual behaviors are considered “normal” by a society. For example, in 1906, Krafft-Ebing defined sexual de­viance as “every expression of (the sexual instinct) that does not correspond with the purpose of nature—i. e., propagation” (J. C. Brown, 1983, p. 227). Certainly, most peo­ple would not go so far today. Freud himself stated that the criterion of normalcy was love and that defenses against “perversion” were the bedrock of civilization because per­version trivializes or degrades love (A. M. Cooper, 1991). Note that Freud’s objections to perversion are not medical, as they were to most other mental disturbances, but moral.

Even “modern” definitions can contain hidden value judgments: “The sexually vari­ant individual typically exhibits sexual arousal or responses to inappropriate people (e. g., minors), objects (e. g., leather, rubber, garments), or activities (e. g., exposure in public, coercion, violence)” (Gudjonsson, 1986, p. 192). “Appropriate” or “inappropriate” peo­ple, objects, or activities of sexual attention differ in different times, in different cultures, and for different people.

Despite these objections, certain groups of behaviors are considered the most com­mon deviations from conventional heterosexual or homosexual behavior. The people who engage in these activities may see them as unproblematic, exciting aspects of their sexuality, or they may be very troubled by their behavior. Society may see the behavior as either solely the business of the individual in the privacy of his or her bedroom (e. g.,

Personal Voices

 

Leave a reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>