Sex & Gender
Sex has many ambiguous meanings but here it is used in context referring to sexual
anatomy and sexual behaviors, while the term gender will refer to being male or
Most Canadians have sex for pleasure rather than for procreation.
Sexual behavior: Behavior that produces arousal and increases the chance of
Influences On sexuality
Ancient Greeks believed that we were all double creatures; some double males,
some double females, and some were half male and half female. Heterosexuals were
the half male, half female creatures and the doubles were the homosexuals.
Fifteenth-century Christians believed that “wet dreams” resulted from intercourse
with tiny spiritual creatures called incubi. Wet dreams, sexual dysfunction, and
sexual lust were seen to be caused by witchcraft.
Muslims believe that sexual intercourse is one of the finest pleasures in life. They
regard sexuality primarily as a source of pleasure and only secondary as a means of
Started in the late 1800’s as a result of religious constriction. In the Victorian era
men often kept mistresses, visited prostitutes while wives usually sexually
anesthetic and poured their capacity housekeeping and raising children. That is not
to say that these housewives did not have any sexual desire, as much as 80% of
them desired sexual intercourse.
Henry Havelock Ellis, a physician from England is called the forerunner of modern
sex research, he is the first to collect information about human sexuality rather than
Sexual behavior has increased by 23% on television from 1998 to 2005, as the
media is becoming the new ‘religious’ influence in this century.
The media has 3 types of influence:
Cultivation: refers to the notion that people begin to think what they see on TV and
in other media really represents the mainstream of what happens in our culture. Agenda setting: media define what is important and what is not by which stories
Social learning: The idea that the media provide role models whom we imitate. Ex.
Characters in TV and in movies.
The Internet is now becoming the most powerful media outlet and has both positive
(provide info on sexuality and promote sexual health) and negative (sexual
solicitation or approach) effects on sexual health.
Cross-cultural perspectives on sexuality
Culture: traditional (passed down from generation to generation) ideas and values
transmitted to members of the group by symbols (such as language)
Ethnocentrism: The tendency to regard one’s own ethnic group and culture as
superior to others and to believe that its customs and way of life are standards by
which other cultures should be judged.
Different cultures do NOT regulate sexual behavior the same way, but no culture
leaves sexuality completely unregulated, because of fear of social disruption.
Incest taboo: A regulation prohibiting sexual interaction between close relatives,
such as brother and sister or father and daughter
Variations in sexual techniques:
Kissing is common in most countries, however not everywhere, as some African
cultures seen it for the first time and laughed. Cunnilingus (mouth stimulation of the
female genitals) is common in our society and others take it even further, island of
Ponape; the man places a fish in the woman’s vulva and then gradually licks it out
prior to coitus. Cultures differ in how often people have sex, the low end goes to
some Irish with once a month and southern Asians with the most at multiple times a
night. Societies don’t restrict when you can have sex, but rather when you cannot,
for example; the period after a woman gives birth.
Masturbation: self-stimulation of the genitals to produce sexual arousal.
The attitude of different cultures towards masturbation varies greatly, some
promote it from at a young age and others will give severe punishments for it if
Premarital and Extramarital Sex
Extramarital sex and premarital sex were found to vary by region. Premarital sex is
accepted in some cultures and tabooed in others. Only in Mediterranean societies
was premarital sex prohibited by 73% but African, pacific islands, and Eurasian
societies are favorable towards premarital sex. Extramarital sex is the second most
strictly prohibited type of sexual contact (74% of cultures). Sex with same sex partners
The views on it differ however 3 patterns are found worldwide
1- No matter how a particular society views homosexuality, it still occurs in at
least some individuals, in all societies worldwide.
2- Males are more likely to engage in same-sex sexual activity than females
3- Same-sex activity is never the predominant form of sexual behavior in any
Standards of Attractiveness
Most cultures a plump woman is considered attractive however in Canada and other
western nations today, the ideal woman is unhealthily and unrealistically thin. We
are a minority in this standard. One standard that is a general rule across all cultures
is that a poor complexion is unattractive.
Regional and Cultural Variation in Sexuality
Social class and Sex:
Little difference found in sexual intercourse ever and in past12 months based on
social class. However, lower social class is more likely