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Chapter 13 : Sexual Variants,
Abuse, and Dsyfunctions
In this chapter, we consider unsual sexual interests that make sexual
fufillment especially difficult (majorily for men). This includes Fetishism,
Transvestic Fetishism, Voyeurism, etc. Secondly, we consider sexual
abuse, a pattern of pressured, forced, or inappropriate sexual contact.
Finally the third cateory of sexual difficulties examined in this chapter is
sexual dysfunctions, which include problems that impede satisfactory
performance of sexual acts.
Sociocultural Influences on Sexual
Some aspects are cross-culturally universal: - Men’s greater emphasis on
their partner’s attractiveness - Taboos against sex between close relatives
But other vary, like attitudes toward premarital sex, or sexual modesty
(e.g. the amount of skin women show) Despite the substantial variability,
people typically behave as though the sexual standards of their time and
place are obviously correct, and tend to be intolerant of sexual
With this in mind, understand that some of these theories can seem
outlandish and strange, but we shouldn’t necessarily judge them as
‘obviously wrong’, no doubt at the time they thought they were perfectly
Degeneracy and Abstinence Theory
The Degeneracy Theory
Developed in the 1750s
The central belief of which was that semen is necessary for physical and
sexual vigour in men, and for masculine characteristics like beard growth.
Based on observations of eunuchs and castrated animals.
Of course we now know its the loss of testosterone that causes this
behaviour, but it lead into Abstinence theory. The most important point
of this theory is that masturbation is harmful, as it wastes semen, and that
prostitues and sex for pleasure can be harmful as well.
John Harvey Kellog, a notable student of this philosophy and
recommended very harsh punishments for children caught masterbating,
such as sewing male foreskin with silver wire, or castration without
anestisia, and in women buring the clitoris with carbolic acid. He was also
concerned with dietary health, and invented Kellog’s Cornflakes.
People of the time believed masturbation caused insanity, due to
observing the mentally insane (which obviously did not masturbate more
than other people, they were just less private about it)
Ritualized Homosexuality (in Melanesia)
A tribe in Melanesia held the same belief that semen was sacred, but did
not come to the same conclusion as Abstience theory.
Instead they held a few key beliefs:
The female body is evil, a poison to men
Men need a perfect balance of semen to be healthy
Semen can protect a man from women, allowing him to have sex with
Young men are weak and do not have enough semen to protect
Because of these beliefs, the Melanasians practice homosexuality from a
young age. But they are not homosexuals, these men are straight, and
almost all adapt a heterosexual lifestyle later in life.
The idea is that by having homosexual relations, the post-puberty males
can give more protective semen to the younger males. Once a man hits
puberty he is allowed to take the insemination role and give his semen to
Come marriage, the man has amassed enough semen to protect him from
the poision of the female body.
Homosexuality and North American Psychiatry
Consider the change in the past half-century, going from Homosexuality
being a taboo subject, to explicitly addressing the topic on talk shows, in
movies, etc. - Homosexuality was officially removed from the DSM (where
it had previously been classified as a sexual deviation) in 1973 - A brief
survey of attitudes toward homosexuality within the mental health
profession itself again illustrates how attitudes toward vartious
expressions of human sexuality may change over time.
HOMOSEXUALITY AS A SICKNESS
Popular before 1970
Such papers as “Effeminate homosexualty - a disease of childhood” and
“On the cure of homosexuality”
Relatively tolerant compared to earlier views, for example the idea that
homosexual people were criminals
In the 1800s was punishable by death