HUMAN SEXUALITY 1
Goals and Objectives
• Introduce ourselves.
• Brief overview of the course.
• Gain a better understanding of sexuality by looking at religions, scientific and media
• Learn about the contributions of Freud, Ellis, Hirshfeld, Krafft-Ebing, Clelia Mosher, Kinsey,
Ford & Beach, Masters & Johnson and John Money to sexual science.
• Become familiar with cross-cultural perspectives, including the differences demonstrated by
three societies: the Inis Beag, the Mangaia, and the Mehinaku.
• Become aware of some basic comparison information on how social class, ethnicity and
geographic region influence the sexual behavior of Canadians.
• Learn how humans are similar to and different from other species in their sexual behavior.
READINGS: CHAPTER 1
Unit One - Lecture and Course Notes
Hello everyone, and welcome to Psychology 2075 – Human Sexuality. This is by far
my favorite class to teach. I love to read about human sexuality, to talk about it, and
especially to teach it. It's also probably one of the easiest university courses to teach,
as pretty much all of the students are motivated to learn. Really, who isn't interested in
-Why Study Sex?
Why study sex? If you've had sex, you should already pretty much be an expert.
Right? When I ask this question in class, students' answers are usually pretty similar:
"I need the credit." "It fits my schedule." "I'd rather learn about sex than cognitive
mechanisms in birds and monkeys!" Here are a few of my personal reasons for
learning about and teaching sexuality, which I'm sure are shared by others:
We are all sexual, and so sex is inherently interesting and personally relevant.
Who hasn't at one time or another wondered if they're normal when it comes to
breast or penis size or shape, sexual thoughts or fantasies, or frequency of
masturbation? By the way, you'll learn that the word normal really doesn't
apply when it comes to human sexuality, as the general rule seems to
be diversity, not normal/abnormal, so in case you were wondering about one of
those things, you're probably very normal! HUMAN SEXUALITY 2
As a society, we often do a poor job of teaching sex accurately. We will learn
more about sex education later in the course, but based on our own experiences
most of us would probably agree that sex education in our society is sorely
lacking. When it is taught, sex education is typically limited to issues of
biology, contraception, and maybe sexual orientation. Rarely do we learn
about sexual behaviour, sexual attraction, sexual disorders, or sex in the media.
This course attempts to cover the gamut of human sexuality topics, including
those mentioned and many others. So no, having had sex does NOT make you
an expert! :)
Finally, you will be able to impress your friends with sexual trivia! Did you
know that kangaroos masturbate, bears can autofellate, and bonobos French
kiss, perform oral sex, and play with sex toys? Did you know that the
inhabitants of the very sexually conservative island of Inis Beag have sex and
even bathe in their underwear? When you finish this course, not only will you
know lots of useless trivia about sex, but you will be among the top 1% of
Canadians in terms of sexual knowledge. In fact, you will actually have more
training in human sexuality than most medical doctors!
What comes to mind when you hear the words 'sex' or 'sexuality'? The word SEX can
mean a lot of different things to different people, and there are many different
perspectives that can be taken when discussing sex (scientific, moral, religious,
biological, relationships). We will discuss many different concepts and perspectives
during this course, including biological, sociological, and cultural ones, but since this
is a psychology course the primary focus will be psychological issues related to
It is not uncommon for people in North America to feel uncomfortable talking about
sexual issues or asking questions about sex. We will definitely not be using terms like
"down there"Â or "private parts;"Â this is a course on sexuality and so we will be
talking about sex and learning about sex and using sexual terminology. In fact, when I
teach this class in person, the very first day I perform a classroom exercise where I
highlight words on a PowerPoint slide of anatomy, sexual behaviour, and so on, and
have the class chant them out loud. I then go back and ask students to yell out slang
terms for various words. This is a great way to set the tone of the course, to help
students overcome any anxiety people may have about sexual terms or sexuality in
general, and to get students to feel comfortable talking about sex and asking questions
about sex. You can try it yourself right now, though I don't suggest it if you're in
I realize that many people may not yet feel entirely comfortable asking questions
about sex, and so I've created a forum topic called "Ask a Sex Question" that you can
click on to anonymously submit questions about anything at all related to human HUMAN SEXUALITY 3
sexuality that you would like to know. I will do my best to answer your questions, and
you are welcome to post answers as well if you know an answer to a question and you
would like to share. This section is anonymous, so no one, including myself, will
know who the questions came from. I provide my students with index cards that they
can drop into a question box when in teach this course in person and I've received
some very interesting and very good questions in the past, and I look forward to
The textbook we are using is called Understanding Human Sexuality, 5th Canadian
Edition. I like this textbook for a number of reasons. Firstly, it specifically contains
Canadian content and statistics and figures—why would we want to know the average
age at which Texans first start to masturbate?? Secondly, the authors make every
effort to include information from a diverse range of ethnic and cultural groups, to
represent our multicultural society and to give us a better picture of sexuality in
Canada and around the world. Finally, this book also does a great job of presenting a
wide range of information on sexuality to an audience of varying levels of existing
knowledge, so there is something for everyone.
Some of the material presented in the textbook or in this course may offend some
people, and some people may be uncomfortable with some of the subject matter or
discussions (e.g., sexual behaviour, religion/ethics). It is pretty much inevitable that in
a class dealing with human sexuality there will be some material that some people are
not comfortable with, however I (and the textbook authors) would be doing everyone
a great disservice by avoiding such sensitive topics or resorting to euphemisms to
make people more comfortable with the terminology used. We don't avoid the use of
proper terminology or discussion of sensitive/contentious issues in other courses, so
we definitely will not do that in this one. It is my hope that through taking this course
and learning about these things, even the most sexually liberal among us will find
ourselves more comfortable talking about sex and dealing with sexual issues in our
We will be covering all of the chapters in the textbook, and there will be 3 exams,
covering Units 1-4 (chapters 1-7), Units 5-8 (chapters 8-12), and Units 9-12 (chapters
13-19). The exams are non-cumulative, and include everything from the relevant