Table of contents
What causes sexual arousal and why do we have different sexual orientations? That's somewhat comparable to asking "what causes hunger and why do we have different tastes", yet it's likely even more complex and complicated to answer. The reality is, there's no simple explanation. I'll start off by saying it's only natural, and I'll venture from there.
The Primary-Secondary Sexual Attraction Form helps one understand the different variables that affect one's sexual orientation as well as the importance of each by ranking them as either primary or secondary.
Fulfilling individual aspects of your sexual orientation can often result in sexual attraction without all aspects being fulfilled. For example, you can be sexually attracted to someone's body but not their personality. Fulfilling even just a part of an individual aspect of your sexual orientation can result in sexual attraction. For example, you can be sexually attracted to the physique of someone but not their face. Sometimes traits are only sexually attractive in certain combinations as well. For example, someone might be sexually attracted to females of most any age, but prefers males to be older.
To summarize, everyone has a unique sexual orientation and there are many variables involved in the totality of one's sexual orientation. Furthermore, we have little to no conscious control over our sexual orientation.
We're sexually attracted to novelty. (Brown, 1974) On a side note, about 23% of males and about 12% of females have extramarital sex and about 50% of marriages end in divorce. ("Births, Marriages, Divorces," 2010; Wiederman, 1997) Perhaps this is further evidence for the attraction to novelty.
The more we see a person, the more likely we'll feel sexually attracted to or an increase of sexual attraction towards that person, granted that we have little to no negative experiences with that person. (Rhodes, Halberstadt, & Brajkovich, 2001) This is the exposure effect at work, in regards to sexual attraction. However, this initial increase in sexual attraction is then likely to decrease over time. This is due to habituation. This can be exemplified with music, a new song might be increasingly fun to listen to for several plays, but after hundreds of plays the fun of it tends to decrease. Habituation would explain why it's rare for children to be sexually attracted to their parents and for siblings that are close in age to be sexually attracted to each other.
We're sexually attracted to those that are similar to our self. (Amodio & Showers, 2005; Penton-Voak, Perrett, & Peirce, 1999) Doesn't this seem logical in application? If a person is similar to oneself, then there's more to relate to, and there's also less likely to be conflicts. For example, if one partner is hyperreligious and the other is nonreligious, such a relationship could result in a lot of disagreements and, in turn, stress. Similarity increases attraction is especially evidenced by the abundant cases of GSA.
Where we view ourselves on a scale of 1 to 10, in terms of sexual attractiveness, is going to affect who we're sexually attracted to. Those that have experienced Ugly Duckling Syndrome or Has-Been Syndrome can probably attest to this better than others. Individuals that would universally score low on a scale of 1 to 10 will most likely only be found sexually attractive by others that would universally score low on a scale of 1 to 10. In comparison, those that would universally score high on a scale of 1 to 10, would be found sexually attractive by most any individual. However, it's a bit more complicated than this. There'd likely be an exponential curve, so that a 10 wouldn't be more sexually attractive to a 5 than to a 8, for example. Instead, the 10 would be equally sexually attractive to both the 5 and the 8, yet the 5 would have a wider range of individuals he/she could be sexually attracted to. So while the 8 might have a better chance of getting in a sexual relationship with a 10, he also has less partners he/she could be sexually attracted to. In which case, it's a trade-off, as most traits are in life. Furthermore, someone low on the scale might not even enjoy being in a sexual relationship with someone high on the scale, because such a relationship might cause much more anxiety over personal flaws.
Symmetry plays a big role in sexual attraction for both genders. We are sexually attracted to people that appear symmetrical. (Sugiyama, 2005) In regards to symmetry, the golden ratio is of much importance. The golden ratio is a ratio that's seen an amazing amount in nature. For example, a snail's shell is in accordance with the golden ratio. The golden ratio can be written as: a + b is to a as a is to b. It's a mathematical constant that can be approximated as: 1.618.
Sexually attractive faces tend to be symmetrical and fit the golden ratio in many ways. (Marquardt Beauty Analysis)
Aside from symmetry, there are other universally attractive traits for both genders. This includes clear skin, clean teeth, fluid gait, and while the amount of body fat preferred can differ a fair amount from society to society, extreme amounts of body fat is almost never seen as attractive. (Sugiyama, 2005) When it comes to the genitals, there seems to be a wide variance across societies as to what is seen as attractive. In a society where stretching out female foreskin is the norm, then it's more likely to be seen as attractive if a female has long foreskin. (Ford & Beach, 1951, p. 86) Likewise, in a society where cutting off male foreskin is the norm, then it's more likely to be seen as attractive if a male doesn't have foreskin.
For male attractiveness, a large shoulder-to-hip ratio is attractive. That involves having broad shoulders and a slim waist, resulting in a so called "V-shaped torso". Having well developed muscles is also attractive but not necessarily being too muscle bound. Being taller than average is also attractive, but not necessarily being too tall. (Sugiyama, 2005) Being physically strong is something that probably seems more masculine than it does feminine, and that's one possible reason why well-developed muscles and being taller than average are seen as attractive. Another possibility is that taller males generally have a higher socioeconomic status than shorter males which might increase their attractiveness for precisely that reason. (Judge & Cable, 2004)
For female attractiveness, a small waist-to-hip ratio, around 0.7, is attractive. (Sugiyama, 2005) Consider, however, that it's common for people to discuss how sexually attractive someone's glutes are but rare for them to talk about how sexually attractive their hips are, suggesting that waist-to-hip ratio preferences are perhaps not as strong as glute preferences. Also, the breasts can potentially be a very attractive trait, but the size and shape seen as most attractive actually varies a lot across societies. (Ford & Beach, 1951, p. 87)
Amongst married and cohabiting couples, the #1 cause of violence is suspicion of infidelity. (Ellis, 1989, p. 66) This provides evidence of both a possessive drive towards sex partners as well as sexual jealousy. The question might not be whether it's natural to be possessive towards sex partners, but whether the possession drive is linked to the sex drive, so that it's natural to be sexually attracted to signs of possession (submission and domination, anything that says "you're mine" or "I'm yours"). With the increased awareness and popularity of BDSM, it's a wonder if the possessive drive and sex drive are linked for practically all people, or if that's only the case in a minority. BDSM has been popularly dubbed "different loving", although the difference might not be of type, but simply of extremes.
Bem (1996) developed the "exotic becomes erotic" principle in regards to gendersexuality, and Money (1986) developed the "triumph over tragedy" principle in regards to parasexuality (aka fetishes/kinks). There's a strong possibility that both principles function by the same mechanism. Bem focused his principle on general anxiety experienced between genders whereas Money focused his principle on specific trauma. Notice that both anxiety and trauma are stressors, they simply vary in degree of severity. However, even what people refer to as "trauma" isn't always severe (yet can still develop as a sexual attraction).
Just as it's well-known that the body has physical defense mechanisms, it should also be recognized that the mind has psychological defense mechanisms. For example, after having suffered a cut, the blood will clot to help survive the damage. In comparison, perhaps after having suffered stress, particularly under sexual circumstances, the mind will sexually orient to cope with that stress. For example, if you were beaten as a child for masturbating, rather than becoming asexual, your sexual orientation might become seriously altered. The path it takes dependent on what the individual conceptualized as the significant aspect of the tragedy. If the individual conceptualized the beating as the significant aspect of the sexual trauma, that individual might be prone to sadomasochism. If the individual conceptualized his childhood sexuality being punished as the significant aspect of the sexual trauma, that individual might be prone to pedosexuality. The sort of triumph/eroticism (sexual orientation), if any, that might develop from the tragedy/exoticism (sexual stress) isn't always easy to predict.
On a side note, stressors are much more likely to imprint on one's sexual orientation during childhood or puberty, and that it's much more rare postpuberty.
One's sexual orientation can be conditioned to some degree. To illustrate this, if a woman had sex with a man she was strongly sexually attracted to, and that man had a specific cologne on, the smell of that cologne might then become conditioned to that women so that she'd become sexually aroused when she smelled it in the future. However, this conditioning would eventually fade out over time due to habituation. For one's sexual orientation to be conditioned more permanently, that would require imprinting.
For imprinting of one's sexual orientation, the sexual experience/s would have to occur during a critical period of sexual development, generally during either childhood or puberty. To illustrate this, let's say there's a young boy who's noticed that he's sexually attracted to women. He's also noticed that his aunt is very feminine and she always wears high heels. The association could be made in his mind that high heels and femininity go together. He's also particularly sexually attracted to his aunt, in which case, this could imprint a high heel shoe fetish in him that could stay with him for the rest of his life.
Sex hormones sculpt the brain prenatally, likely predisposing one's gendersexuality. (Bem, 1996; Money, 1997, pp. 66-70) The amygdala and hypothalamus play an important role in regulating one's sexual arousal. (Joseph, n.d.) The frontal lobe plays an important role in one's ability to control one's impulses. (Joseph, 2001) That might not affect what one is attracted to sexually, simply what one acts on sexually. The temporal lobe also seems to play an interesting role in sexuality, especially in regards to some cases of fetishism. People occasionally develop fetishes after the occurrence of a temporal lobe abnormality, and the fetishes vanish after surgery of the temporal lobe. (Darcangelo, 2008, p. 112) Perhaps this occurs due to the complex visual processing and memory capabilities of the temporal lobe. (Joseph, 2000) With abnormally activated temporal lobes, such visual and memory functions might trigger fetishism if combined with sexual arousal, through crosstalk.
Social norms can affect our sexual orientation. Consider this, in some societies, it is considered improper to eat practically any foods with your hands, you must use utensils. If you get caught eating with your hands in such a society, you'll likely feel embarrassed. This is comparable to picking your nose in America. This simply goes to show that what you feel embarrassed for is influenced by societal norms. Likewise, what you feel sexually attracted to can be influenced by societal norms. If you were raised in a society where it's normal for adults to have sex with pubescents, that'd likely have an impact on your sexual orientation. Because it's so normal, it'd not seem taboo, and you'd be unlikely to view it in a repulsive way. Instead, you'd be more likely to view pubescents as potential sex partners yourself.
It's not just the norms of society that influence your sexual orientation, but your social circumstances as well. If you live in a society that divides by age, consider certain school systems, then you might become more sexually attracted to your age group than you were before the division. There are several possible reasons for that. The age group you live with might become more sexually attractive over time as they become more familiar. Over time you might conform better to the social norms of your age group, and they'd then seem more similar to you than other age groups. Or, it might simply be that your age group is more readily accessible than other age groups, and you might even go for them out of deprivation.
It's important to make a distinction between thoughts and behavior. When it comes to sexuality, you can think of this as a difference between attractions and actions. Just as it's recognized that it's possible to desire certain foods yet avoid eating them and to dislike certain foods yet eat them anyway, it's also possible to desire certain sexual actions yet avoid them and to dislike certain sexual actions yet engage in them anyway.
Some variables can be very solid, for instance, many people become sexually attracted to a certain species, to a certain gender, or to a certain age, and it has little change over the years or even over the course of their life's circumstances. Other variables can be more fluid, for instance, sometimes what people are sexually attracted to in regards to sexual actions, physical traits, personality traits, or lifestyle traits, can change in a matter of days.
A clear example of sexual fluidity is represented in cases where people are separated by their gender for a long period of time, such as prison. Many individuals that previously considered themselves heterosexual, then engage in homosexuality. However, it should be kept in mind that some people seem to have this potential while others don't.
Most people don't think they voluntarily choose to prefer chocolate ice cream over vanilla ice cream, for example. Most people would chalk this preference up to a biological disposition? In the same way, sexuality is not voluntarily chosen, whether heterosexual or homosexal, normosexual or parasexual, or whatever else.
"You do not choose your native language as a preference, even though you are born without it. You assimilate it into a brain prenatally ready to receive a native language from those who constitute your primate troop and who speak it to you and listen to you when you speak it. Once assimilated through the ears into the brain, a native language becomes securely locked in - as securely as if it had been phylogenetically preordained to be locked in prenatally by a process of genetic determinism or by the determinism of fetal hormonal or other brain chemistries. So also with sexual status or orientation, which—whatever its genesis—also may become assimilated and locked into the brain." (Money, 1988, pp. 11-12)
"I hate the word 'Lifestyle.' It's idiotic when applied to sexual orientation - would you refer to left-handedness as an 'alternative lifestyle?'" (Angela Pattatucci, as quoted in Burr, 1996, p. 173)
"If you are right-handed, take a pen in your left hand and try to write your name. With some effort, you can probably get it down semilegibly, but the fact that you have engaged in left-handed behavior does not make you a left-handed person. Behavior is irrelevant; your orientation is what counts. And you are just as right-handed sitting still watching a movie as when swinging a tennis racquet with your right hand. Did you choose to be right-handed? No? Then prove it." (Burr, 1996, p. 9)
"As for a man being able to choose his sexual orientation, research seems to indicate that he can teach himself to suppress an erection if his brain says, "Bad choice, you'll have hell to pay." But it doesn't work the other way around. Conservative Christian counseling claims to the contrary, a man who doesn't get hard over women can't will a tent in his pants. He can force himself to wear mental blinders when it comes to checking out dicks in the locker room, but he can't will himself to become a muff man. He has to be born with that potential. It doesn't appear that it can be programmed in later."
- Paul Joannides
The line between affectional love and sexual love is blurry. To illustrate this, a parent can kiss their child on the lips and it's generally considered affectional. However, if a teacher does the same, even if the teacher's intentions were affectional and it was consensual, it can be deemed child sexual abuse.
Sexual love exists on a continuum. It's popularly been regarded that you're either "in love" or you're not, but that doesn't seem to be the case. We seem capable of experiencing varying degrees of affectional love, sexual attraction, and attachment.
There's a quote by John Money (1980) which explains the pink lens effect very well, "There is a rather sophisticated riddle about what a boyfriend (or girlfriend) and a Rorschach inkblot have in common. The answer is that you project an image of your own onto each. In many instances, a person does not fall in love with a partner, per se, but with a partner as a Rorschach love-blot. That is to say, the person projects onto the partner an idealized and highly idiosyncratic image that diverges from the image of that partner as perceived by other people. Hence the popular idiom that love is blind, for a lover projects onto a partner, or love-blot, his/her unique love image, as unique as his/her own face or finger print" (p. 65). Put simply, we see what we want to see.
Does jealousy in general or specifically sexual jealousy occur in nonhuman animals? If so, this would provide evidence that such feelings are natural rather than developed through nurture. Unfortunately, however, it's hard to know what nonhuman animals actually feel. A dog might appear depressed if you're giving attention to another dog, but does he experience jealousy too, or is he just depressed because he wants attention and he's not getting it? Male infanticide is common amongst a wide variety of species. Males will kill the children of a female partner if he knows those children are not his own (because he's never mated with her before). (Smuts, 1992) But does that mean he experiences sexual jealousy at the thought of that female having had sex with someone else, or could it just be an innate response not experienced in a comparable way to human sexual jealousy? It's also common in a wide variety of species for males to compete with each other to gain sexual access to a female. (Smuts, 1992) But do they experience sexual jealousy towards each other as they compete, or do they simply compete because they have to in order to get what they want (sex)? There are also species in which the male chases away intruding males from his female sex partner (Ellis, 1989, p. 58), and the rhesus macaque will also attack a female for mating or attempting to mate with other males. (Smuts, 1992; Rilling, Winslow, & Kilts, 2004) Furthermore, this chasing and attacking behavior is only noted in the males of such species, so whether females might experience similar feelings and simply don't act on them due to being subordinate is unknown. Regardless, is this chasing and attacking behavior simply due to a possessive drive towards the female, or are there also sexual jealousy feelings behind it? It's hard to know. It'd be more convincing to find a species in which the male attacks another male for having had sex with his female partner.
In regards to humans, when it comes to sexual relationships, people seem to get more jealous over extrarelational sexual activities than they do over other extrarelational activities. This isn't universally true, however, as some individuals do experience significant jealousy over extrarelational activities in general, sexual or not. In general, though, jealousy is generally more common and more extreme when it comes to extrarelational sexual activities. So it's a wonder why it's okay for a sex partner to play games with, have intimate conversations with, and even touch other people, but it's not okay for a sexual partner to have sex with other people. What is it that causes jealousy because of sexual activities but not because of other activities? I'll discuss some general common realities to help understand this.
First off, people are generally less jealous or not jealous at all of their partner's past sexual partners, they're more jealous or only jealous of sexual partners that appear during their relationship.
There's an exception, however. If their partner was raped (even if it's during the time they're in a relationship), then there's generally not any jealousy. So it can be deduced that the extrarelational sex must be consensual for jealousy to arise.
Primary partners are generally jealous of paramours, but paramours are generally not jealous of primary partners. Why is this?
From the perspective of a primary partner, it can make you feel inadequate if she's "yours" yet she turns to someone else for sex. From the perspective of a paramour, it can make you feel special if she's "his" yet she still wants to have sex with you.
I find it interesting that primary partners are often more aggressive towards the paramour than they are towards their partner, even if their partner was the one who initiated sex with the paramour. This provides evidence that, in cases of sexual jealousy, feelings of inadequacy might be more harmful than feelings of anger at your partner's disloyalty.
People often view jealousy of possessions in general as a negative trait that should be overcome or avoided, yet those same people often view sexual jealousy as positive or essential. That's just something to think about.
"First-born children often feel jealous when a younger sibling is born. Wise parents make a special point of reassuring the child that she'll always be special, that the baby doesn't represent any kind of threat to her status, and that there's plenty of love for everyone. Why is it so easy to believe that a mother's love isn't a zero-sum proposition, but that sexual love is a finite resource?" (Ryan & Jethá, 2010/2011, p. 148)
"Is it so very obvious that you can't love more than one person? We seem to manage it with parental love (parents are reproached if they don't at least pretend to love all their children equally), love of books, of food, of wine (love of Château Margaux does not preclude love of a fine Hock, and we don't feel unfaithful to the red when we dally with the white), love of composers, poets, holiday beaches, friends... why is erotic love the one exception that everybody instantly acknowledges without even thinking about it?" (Dawkins, 2007)
Communication is important in relationships. For example, if your girlfriend tells you she desires a long-term committed relationship, yet you're only interested in short-term fun, then it'd probably be immoral to continue with the relationship without telling her.
Reciprocation is important in relationships. Much of life is about give and take, striving for fair balance. For example, if you give your partner a massage, perhaps she'll return the favor.
Weighing costs and benefits can be helpful in relationships. What do you lose or gain from the relationship? What does your partner lose or gain from the relationship? If you have problems in the relationship, would it be better to try to work through them, or would it be better to break free?
Dependency can be dangerous. For example, if you feel attached to your partner and your partner died, then you'd likely suffer emotionally. Another example is if you feel financially dependent on your partner and your partner leaves you, then your living circumstances would likely suffer.
"I think it is important for people to be independent, or capable of independence, from each other; and that is that two whole, fully functioning people can bring far more to a relationship and to each other (as well as to themselves) than can two dependent "half" people. Two people who share full or "whole" lives and characters, bring to a relationship more than two people who share "half" lives. (Garlikov, 2005, p. 214)
Sternberg's Theory Of Love helps explain relationships based on 3 variables which he referred to as intimacy, passion, and commitment. (Sternberg, 1988) However, I've modified it for simplicity's sake. Instead of "intimacy" I use "affection", instead of "passion" I use "attraction", and instead of "commitment" I use "attachment". This results in 7 types of relationships. These don't have to apply to strictly sexual relationships, but can apply to relationships in general. I've modified some of Sternberg's terms again, using "friendly" instead of "liking" and "lustful" instead of "infatuated". This is a useful theory because of its high practicality.
There are many reasons why someone would be a serial monogamist. Some individuals might go from one relationship to the other because, though they might like their partner, they don't feel that person is right for them to commit a life time with. Others might like their partner for the time being, but they eventually get bored and desire to meet someone new, so then they'll end the current sexual relationship and start a new one. In such cases, perhaps it's an alternative to cheating. Some individuals choose serial monogamy while others seem to be that way unintentionally.
Notes: Confusingly, the term polygamy is also used to refer to individuals that have casual sex with a lot of different partners. However, it might be better to define such individuals as serial monogamists to avoid this confusion.
"I've got no strings to hold me down,
To make me fret or make me frown,
I had strings but now I'm free,
There are no strings on me.
Hi-ho the me-ri-o,
That's the only way to be,
I want the world to know,
Nothing ever worries me.
I've got no strings so I have fun,
I'm not tied up to anyone,
They've got strings but you can see,
There are no strings on me."
In regards to sexual relationships, it's interesting to note that monogamy and serial monogamy is extremely rare amongst nonhuman animals. When it comes to humans, approximately 23% of males and approximately 12% of females have extramarital sex (Wiederman, 1997). However, those statistics say nothing about whether the sex occurs in an open relationship or a closed relationship. They also say nothing about the occurrence of extrarelational sex between partners who aren't married. Furthermore, approximately 50% of marriages end in divorce. ("Births, Marriages, Divorces," 2010) The biggest problem, in my opinion, when it comes to divorce statistics and extramarital sex statistics, is that they say nothing about happiness. Consider those individuals who don't divorce and who don't have extramarital sex, are they any happier than the ones who do divorce and who do have extramarital sex? Perhaps it's a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation. You can be unhappy struggling against your inclinations, or you can be unhappy suffering from guilt for cheating. The alternative is to have an open relationship, but then there's still the variable of sexual jealousy with that.
"When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part."
- George Bernard Shaw
The paramour is a moral conundrum. If the paramour was lied to or led to believe that his partner was actually single or in an open relationship, then the paramour would be dismissed from moral responsibility. If the paramour simply didn't bother to ask if his partner was in a closed relationship or not, then the paramour might or might not have some degree of moral responsibility. If the paramour knew that his partner was in a closed relationship, then the paramour would probably have some degree of moral responsibility. However, who initiated the sexual activity and the degree of consensuality involved in the extrarelational sex would also play a role in regards to moral responsibility.
Open relationships can vary a great deal in the degree of commitment amongst the various relationships. Some partners just have occasional casual sex, others all live together with their multiple sex partners. It's largely to do with what's most comfortable for all partners involved. One person might not be comfortable with his partner making out with someone else, but is totally fine with his partner having cyber sex with someone else. There's practically an unlimited variety of ideosyncratic rules and boundaries people are comfortable with in their sexual relationships.
Europe has better sex education than America and it also has lower rates of STIs and teen pregnancies. (Adolescent sexual health, 2009; WHO, 2008) Of course correlation isn't causation, but what other variable might account for the lower rates of STIs and teen pregnancies? After all, America is far more religious and the circumcision rates are far higher in America as well. Apparently those variables aren't helping.
"Americans (mistakenly, I believe) think sex somehow stands apart from the other things in life, and they endow it with a psychological significance far beyond the morally important considerations of pregnancy or venereal disease. Sex education in the schools is a live issue; math is not." (Garlikov, 2005, p. 103)
"Parents usually tell their children all there is to know about things like blowing noses and wiping rear ends, but rarely do they mention that genitals can be the source of good feelings. As a result, children learn that it's OK to seek their parents' wisdom on just about everything but sexual feelings. This is unfortunate, because kids need their parents' guidance on sexual feelings as much as they do on wiping their rear ends or learning to drive a car."
- Paul Joannides
"In this day and age, the first time parents mention sex to children is often through warnings about sexual abuse—complete with those deep, measured parental tones that barely hide mom and dad's fear and concern. Consider how dumb it would be if the first thing parents told kids about bike riding is how many scraped knees, broken bones and fractured skulls they are likely to get."
- Paul Joannides
"Vows of abstinence break far more easily than do condoms." (Reiss & Reiss, 1997, p. 127)
"The "Just say no" approach to sex simply ensures that young people who say yes will be unprepared to prevent disease and pregnancy." (Reiss & Reiss, 1997, p. 22)
"We need to get away from our focus on prevention of sexuality and concentrate on preparation for this exciting part of life." (Reiss & Reiss, 1997, p. 69)
Many people worry that talking to children about sex will give them ideas they never had and cause them to become hypersexual. The thing is, children are going to have sexual thoughts regardless if you talk to them about sex or not. However, if their sexual curiosity is left unsatisfied, they're likely to dwell on the subject and then it can become an obsession. On the other hand, if you're able to talk to children about sexuality, then they're likely to feel relieved to have their curiosity satisfied, in which case it will be less likely to become an obsession. You can't just ignore a situation and hope it will go away or solve itself. To illustrate this point, if your room is disorganized or cluttered, ignoring it won't make it disappear or clean itself.
Sex education doesn't turn children into perverts or sex offenders just as learning about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ doesn't turn children into torturers or murderers.
It's often difficult to discern sexual repression from sexual abuse. After all, an experience deemed as "sexually abusive" might only be experienced as sexually abusive because of the way that individual was sexually repressed.
A practically limitless amount of symptoms can plausibly be the result of sexual trauma. What's complicated, though, is that there are so many variables to consider in regards to the context of the sexual trauma. Different experiences of sexual trauma can have different implications. Such variables to consider includes the relation of the offender to the victim, the age of the victim, the personality of the victim, the type of acts, the frequency of the acts, the time-frame/length of the acts, the severity, etcetera. Because so many variables are involved, it makes it difficult to pin point what type of effects sexual trauma might have on an individual.
Sexual repression can also increase the risk of developing parasexualities. (Money, 1986) Somewhat relatedly, it's generally found that sex offenders have had less exposure to porn than nonoffenders as children or adolescents. (Diamond, 1999) Also, the 2 variables most likely to lead to a violent society are 1) affectional deprivation (neglect), primarily in early childhood, and 2) sexual deprivation/sexual repression, primarily in adolescence. (Prescott, 1975) Christie Hefner (1990) emphasized this last point when she stated, "If one examines countries that have serious problems of violence and abuse against women—such as South Africa, Iran, or the Soviet Union—you discover that these are countries that are not only politically repressive but sexually repressive." (p. 70)
Sexual repression can cause sexual functioning problems. Masters, Johnson, & Kolodny (1988) found that having an antisexual upbringing increases the risk of vaginismus and orgasmic dysfunction in women, as well as erectile dysfunction and ejaculatory dysfunction (which they seemed to use as synonymous with orgasmic dysfunction) in men. (p. 478)
"In a sex-negative culture such as ours all children are conditioned from a very early age to regard their genitals as qualitatively different from all other parts of the body. Even if they have been brought up by enlightened or "progressive" parents, they soon learn that the majority of adults regard these parts as "dirty" or "obscene," and that they must not display them, touch them, or even talk about them in public. The child's sexual curiosity is therefore driven underground, to manifest itself only in the dirty jokes of the playground or in furtive gropes behind the school bicycle shed. When puberty is reached the rising levels of the sex hormones make it almost impossible for the erotic impulses to be contained any longer, and the growing boy or girl embarks upon a double life, carefully concealing from parents and other adults the numerous sexual experiments in which he or she is engaged. The result of all this furtiveness is to turn a previously pleasant child into the surly, rebellious teenager depicted in many novels and films. Most people in the western world are so familiar with this pattern that they have come to regard it as the norm, the "natural" way in which a child's sexuality develops. It does not occur to them that our civilisation might be anomalous in this respect, and that there might be other, healthier ways of bringing up children." (Randall, 1992, pp. 151-152)
"Childhood sex play is not harmful under ordinary circumstances and is probably a valuable psychosocial experience in developmental terms. However, psychological harm can come from harsh parental reaction. When children are discovered in sex play, either solitary or with others, negative parental reaction may be difficult to understand but easy to perceive. From the child's viewpoint, play is play, but for the parent who discovers a child masturbating or engaging in sex play with others, SEX in capital letters flashes across the scene." (Masters, Johnson, & Kolodny, 1988, p. 129)
"It's one thing to deny your own sexuality but another to proscribe it in others." (Scott, 2004, p.33)
I find it interesting that children instinctively know that touching fire is bad, yet they have to be taught that touching their genitals is bad.
Sexual repression sweeps the dust under the rug, but eventually the rug can't contain the dust anymore, and it overfills, and you end up with a lot more problems than you started with.
In a meta-analyses of numerous child sexual abuse (CSA) correlates such as depression, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, drug use/abuse, etcetera, Rind et al. (1998) found that adults with CSA experiences were only slightly less well-adjusted than adults without CSA experiences. However, they also found that when you take into account family environment problems, such as physical abuse, neglect, etcetera, then the slightly less well-adjusted finding no longer holds. I think that, in the end, the only thing we can conclude is that most studies on the effects of CSA have been too messy thus far to confidently conclude anything from them. 1) There's a lot of definitional variations on the terms "child", "adult", and "child sexual abuse" and 2) families in which adult-child sex occurs are probably more likely to be dysfunctional in important ways. On another note, Rind et al. (1998) also found that males were less likely to be harmed by adult-child sex than females were. This is inline with social memes, which would cause males to feel more like they were being initiated by the adult and females to feel more like they were being taken advantage of by the adult.
Gebhard et al. (1965/1967) provide data on childhood sexual experiences which increase the chance of committing sex offenses. These were all compared to a general prison population as well as a control population. This study does an efficient job at distinguishing between different ages and different types of offenses and experiences, which are likely to have different implications.
All of these sexual experiences can actually be viewed as sexually liberating, and if sexual repression increases the risk of developing parasexualities and committing sex offenses, then theoretically these experiences should decrease the risk of developing parasexualities and committing sex offenses. However, I hypothesize that it depends very much on the context of the experiences. Only if the child ends up feeling traumatized by the experiences will he be more likely to develop parasexualities and commit sex offenses. This would explain why children or adolescents who view porn (which is unlikely to be traumatic as long as they're not caught and punished for it) are less likely to commit sex offenses (Diamond, 1999), whereas children who witness sex are more likely to commit sex offenses (since they very well might be punished by the adults for walking in on them having sex).
Sexual abuse seems to be the scapegoat for all problems these days. Whatever your problems in life, if you can appeal to sexual abuse, it seems to be taken by most as a legitimate excuse. The question isn't so much whether sexual abuse can cause so many symptoms as it is whether sexual abuse should cause so many symptoms. Is nonforceful and nonviolent sex, by itself, really so often so damaging, or is it more often the way we're nurtured that causes it to be so?
Where does erotica end and pornography begin? That's an important question to be asked, especially for those who are against porn. I don't like splitting hairs, I think the sexual language is already far more confusing than necessary. I think it'd be simpler to just call anything that's sexually arousing or intended to be sexually arousing as porn. However, I get the impression that many people believe there's a point in which sexual material becomes harmful (or potentially leads to harm), and that's the cut off point between erotica and porn. But when does sexual material become harmful? That's the tricky question. Is watching someone pose in clothes harmful? Is watching someone pose nude harmful? Is watching someone have sex harmful? It should also be asked, "in what way is it harmful?".
It should be understood that what's nonsexual for one person can be sexually arousing for another, and vice versa. As the maxim goes, "one man's trash is another man's treasure". For example, the video of your child dancing might be cute to you, but it could be child porn for another. Furthermore, even though porn is generally considered to be more sexually charged than erotica, that's not the case for everyone. Some people get stronger sexual feelings by looking at pictures of clothed individuals posing seductively rather than by watching videos of nude individuals performing explicit sex acts.
Where do sexual fantasies play a role in all of this? Even if, hypothetically, all sexually arousing materials could be banned or avoided in your external surroundings, you can still have sexually arousing materials play in your mind.
"Sexual objectification" is often a poorly defined and misunderstood term. Our sexual orientation has certain qualities it likes: physical traits, gender, species, etcetera. When we meet someone, those traits are objectified and if they match with our sexual orientation, we experience sexual attraction. That's just how it works. It's only a problem when these sexual qualities are zoned in on while other qualities of an individual are ignored (such as their thoughts and feelings). This can be a genuine problem in real life situations. However, when it comes to porn the term "sexual objectification" seems to take on a new meaning.
In regards to porn, the term "sexual objectification" is frequently used when discussing the memes spread. The thing is, memes aren't just spread about females, but about males too, though you rarely hear sexual objectification discussed in regards to males. The memes said to be spread include:
The thing is, excluding the nudity and explicit sex, these memes already persist in society even without porn. Such memes can be found in mainstream media. (Stroud, 2014b) What's important is to realize that porn is fantasy not reality, and that the memes represented in porn are mostly an extension of what's already extant in society.
It should also be considered that individuals can be objectified in ways other than just sexually, yet it seems you never hear about that. Individuals can be objectified for their athletic abilities, their artistic abilities, their intellectual abilities, etcetera.
"Personally, I don't like pornography, but it's not because I think it will turn me into a raging fiend; it's because I find it tasteless, embarrassing, and boring. But that's no reason to ban it, because if being tasteless, embarrassing, or boring was a crime, we'd have to get rid of 90 percent of the television shows, hit records, close down most of the franchised fast food joints, muzzle the politicians, and prohibit any preacher from talking more than ninety seconds." (Royko, as quoted in Hefner, 1990, p. 73)
Milton Diamond (1999) provides evidence for a deterrent effect of porn. Milton compared sex crime statistics in Japan between 1972 and 1995 which is a time period when pornography changed from sexually prudish to sexually permissive. Milton found that "sex crimes in every category, from rape to public indecency, sexual offenses from both ends of the criminal spectrum, significantly decreased in incidence. Most significantly, despite the wide increase in availability of pornography to children, not only was there a decrease in sex crimes with juveniles as victims but the number of juvenile offenders also decreased significantly." Meanwhile, in China, as the laws regarding the prohibition of porn became increasingly harsh, there was no significant difference in the incidence of rape. (Diamond, 1999) Either a deterrent effect or no effect at all has been found in all places studied which includes Denmark, Sweden, West Germany, Japan, U.S.A., and Shanghai, China. (Diamond, 1999)
During the 1700s and 1800s, people with mental illnesses would masturbate in public and it was assumed that masturbation made them mentally ill, when really they were already mentally ill, which is why they would masturbate in public. When it comes to porn, it seems many people have cause and effect reversed in this same way. John Money (1980) put it this way, "Reading about drinking urine 100 times won't make you want to drink urine, just as watching urine erotica won't make you a urophile." (p. 203) People probably don't watch porn then become influenced to commit a sexual offense, they probably have deviant sexual attractions in the first place and porn can actually serve as a release for them. To put it simply, porn isn't a case of "monkey see, monkey do", porn is an outlet. On the other hand, sometimes people view a sexual action in porn that they hadn't thought of before and then become curious to try it.
In addition to having a deterrent effect, some people find porn to be informative. Furthermore, some people who've had a sexually repressive life find porn to be helpful in becoming more comfortable with sexuality.
Many people say that rape isn't about sex, it's about anger or power. At the same time, they'll also say porn promotes rape. This is popularly exemplified by Robin Morgan's quote, "Pornography is the theory; rape is the practice." The thing is, not all porn is aggressive. So if someone's watching nonaggressive porn for the purpose of sexual arousal, how will it increase his chances of raping women if rape is only due to anger or power?
"I think there is an important issue here of individual responsibility. I think part of the strength of this nation is its dedication to the rights and responsibilities of individuals. We base our laws on the idea that people are responsible for their actions. When the murderer of Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone says that Twinkies made him do it, we don't let him off. When a psychopath pulls a sword on the Staten Island Ferry and kills two people and says, "God made me do it," that isn't an alibi. Why is it so different when we deal with areas of sexuality and sexual imagery? We don't let someone blame alcohol for drunk driving. We say you are responsible if you become abusive." (Hefner, 1990, pp. 75-76)
Some people feel depressed after watching porn because they want sex like they see/hear/read in porn and they're not getting it. Some people also feel unsatisfied after watching porn because their partner might not be as sexually attractive or as willing to do certain sexual acts as some of the porn stars are. However, I wonder if these people would be depressed with their sex lives even without porn serving them reminders.
There's the possibility of porn becoming a compulsive behavior. Then again, so can eating food. However, most people don't try to starve themselves simply to avoid becoming a compulsive eater. Trying to starve yourself might simply make eating become even more of a compulsion since you obsess over it. The same can be true of porn. For your consideration, porn and masturbation can actually decrease built up sexual thoughts and feelings. If it does become a compulsion, then surely that can be problematic, but you should realize that basically anything can become addictive or compulsive. If we look at television, video games, gambling, food, and alcohol, we can see that porn is clearly just one of many.
First off, I want it to be clear that "child" is a varied term that's often used to refer to anyone under the age of consent. As Harris Mirkin (1999) put it, "When we argue that children can't give consent to be photographed because they are easily controlled by adults we probably don't have the image of the rebellious adolescent in mind." (p. 503) With this noted, I'll generally be referring to those under the age of 13 in discussing this section.
"The concept of child pornography covers a broader range of material today than it did in earlier periods, and there has been a sexualization of images that would previously have been considered non-sexual. In the nineteenth century pictures of naked children, as angels and cherubs, were viewed as images of innocence. It was the display of pubic or body hair that was forbidden. These attitudes have now been reversed, and adult nudity is more acceptable than unclothed youths." (Mirkin, 1999, p. 504)
So a lot of people are uncomfortable with child nudity and child sexuality, but is that any reason to make it illegal? A lot of people might be uncomfortable with looking at someone vomit, but if another person finds it entertaining then shouldn't he be allowed to look at it? As Harris Mirkin (1999) said, "Usually it is permissible to represent the forbidden, and it is legal to have shows in which actors are cut up by chain saws or terrorists blow up things, while it is illegal to actually do these things." (p. 502) However, child porn is taken as a special case. I refer to Harris Mirkin (1999) again, who stated, "Unlike adult pornography, which is treated as speech, child pornography is equated with the act of hurting a child." (p. 504) Does viewing child porn actually increase harm to children!? It's a case of acts by proxy which we'll have to scrutinize closely.
If you opt not to buy a child porn film, the adult might still have sex with the child, if not for financial gain then for his own sexual satisfaction. However, more buyers might mean increased demand for production, which might mean more acts of sex. So in the end, the answer would seem indefinite. However, most people who view child porn don't purchase it! They find it for free, in which case financial gain isn't promoting pedosexuality through its production. The acts have already been done and will probably not increase just to please unknown free loaders!
Some people might believe that a child will still be harmed simply by knowing material of his/her childhood sexuality is being seen by so many people. If that's the case, then unless everyone stops viewing it, an individual probably won't make a difference. Furthermore, you should also consider nonsexual videos of children's misery that people watch. Such videos have been featured on popular TV shows and many go viral online. These videos might involve children throwing tantrums and crying which adults find "cute". I'm not saying that viewing sexual misery of children is okay because people also view nonsexual misery of children, I'm just making the point that it's probably more trivial than people make it out to be.
Is filming a child for sexual purposes always abusive? Many people don't believe a child could consent to being filmed if that film is used for sexual purposes (not necessarily nude or engaged in explicit sex acts either). I find it interesting that parents will film their child crying over the dinner they have to eat because they think the child's tantrum is "cute" and they don't consider it abusive. Do you think the child is consenting to be filmed while she's crying? In comparison, a child might actually be excited to get to wear new clothes and do poses for a camera. But what about the future? Maybe a child could genuinely have fun posing for a camera, perhaps unaware that adults masturbate to it, but how will that child feel when she's older? Again, I could use a nonsexual example. How would an adult feel to know that there was a viral video of her crying over dinner put on America's Funniest Home Videos and Youtube? Chances are, most people don't care that much about their childhood fame, whatever that fame was for, as long as it doesn't affect their adult life.
Thought policing is supposed to be illegal (protected by the First Amendment) yet it seems there's an exception when it comes to child porn. If parents happen to have a picture of their naked child taking a bath, that's okay. If a stranger somehow got a hold of that picture, it could be deemed illegal in his hands if it was thought he had sexual motives for having that picture. Based on the evidence for the deterrent effect of porn (Diamond, 1999), it's quite possible making child porn legal could serve as an outlet for pedosexuals and thereby decrease incidents of adult-child sex.
An often neglected point is that making child porn legal could potentially help reduce harm to children. If child porn was legal, it'd likely become easier to find and access. If it were easier to find and access, more people would likely view it. If more people were to view child porn, there would be a greater chance of sexually abused children being recognized in real life. Those recognized children could then be reported and potentially saved from further sexual abuse.
Making child porn illegal might not just foster child sexual abuse incidents and punish harmless people, it might also stunt artistic, scientific, and otherwise important growth of knowledge and expression. Children can sometimes be sexual, yet American society tries so desperately to hide that. Censoring nude and sexual children could very well be harmful, a subtle form of sexual repression. It essentially hides an entire, and important, aspect of humanity.
"It is ordinarily said that criminal law is designed to protect property and to protect persons, and if society's only interest in controlling sex behavior were to protect persons, then the criminal codes concerned with assault and battery should provide adequate protection. The fact that there is a body of sex laws which is apart from the laws protecting persons is evidence of their distinct function, namely that of protecting custom." (Kinsey et al., 1948, p. 4)
Sex offenders very often commit nonsexual crimes as well. (Gebhard et al., 1965/1967, p. 698; Hanson & Bussière, 1998) This suggests that whatever increases the risk of criminality in general, also increases the risk of sex offending. However, criminals in general aren't equally as likely to commit sex offenses as sex offenders are. (Hanson & Bussière, 1998) This suggests that there are additional variables that specifically increase the risk of committing sex offenses. Those variables likely include having experienced sexual trauma (Diamond, 1999; Gebhard et al., 1965/1967; Money, 1986; Prescott, 1975) and having a deviant sexual orientation.
Hanson and Bussière (1998) did a meta-analysis on sex offender recidivism. The follow-up periods ranged from 6 months to 23 years. They found that the average sex offense recidivism rate for sex offenders in general was 13.4%. Specifically for rapists it was 18.9% and specifically for child molesters it was 12.7%. Logically, studies with short-term follow-ups are likely to have lower recidivism rates and studies with long-term follow-ups are likely to get higher recidivism rates. However, they noted that even in studies with thorough record searches and long-term follow-ups, the sex offense recidivism rate rarely exceeded 40%. Still, this paints a complicated picture. In the short-term, sex offenders are either 1) not likely to reoffend or 2) are unlikely to get caught. Because sex is so much more secretive than other offenses, it's hard to know which is the more likely case. Long-term follow-ups give higher numbers, but 1) do most sex offenders just not reoffend until several years after release, or 2) could they have been reoffending all through out the years and just didn't get caught until several years later? Another issue is the possibility that sex offenders are more likely to get in trouble for innocuous actions or false accusations. For example, if a sex offender is well-known in the community, he could be filming at a park for nonsexual reasons, yet because of his sex offender status, people might assume he's filming children and he could get in trouble for it.
This makes for a troubling issue since it's difficult to truly know how many will reoffend as well as how long an individual might have been reoffending before he got caught. There's also a significant amount of sex offenders that don't reoffend, contrary to popular belief, and it should also be considered that there's probably a significant amount of sexual deviants that never offend in the first place. So while it'd only be fair to not put all sex offenders in the same basket, society in general treats sex offenses with such extremely harsh contention that it's difficult to treat sex offenders fairly because the chance of reoffending is considered too great of a risk. In which case, those that won't reoffend end up having to suffer because of those that do.
"Since society is so deeply concerned about adults who engage in sexual activity with children or young people in their early or middle teens, it is worth noting that the problem is not so much one of a predilection for youth as it is one of lack of discrimination against youth. Thus our data show the great majority of so-called "child molesters" would prefer sexual activity with adults, but are willing to turn to children if adults are unavailable or if the man is intoxicated or under stress. The lower age limit every male sets for himself in his own mind is to some degree elastic, depending upon the situation and physical appearance of the female." (Gebhard et al., 1965, p. 660)
There are 5 typical physiological measures of sexual arousal: 1) electrodermal, 2) cardiovascular, 3) respiratory, 4) pupillary, and 5) phallometry (penile plethysmography) for males and yonometry (vaginal photoplethysmography) for females. In the case of sexual deviance, however, they'd probably not be very useful. That's because 1) individuals can consciously skew the results and 2) the results are open to interpretation. To extrapolate on the latter, how can you know for sure what variable/s the individual is getting sexually aroused by? It should also be considered that many individuals might experience such testing as sexually traumatic. Self-report measures are less likely to be experienced as sexually traumatic, however, they're also easier to skew the results of, by lieing.
The data on psychosurgery is lacking and is heavily prone to self-selection bias. The results are also dubious, and the knowledge and precision of psychosurgery for deviant sexuality is probably not developed enough. (Schmidt & Schorsch, 1981)
Surgical castration shows a strong deterrent effect on recidivism but is heavily prone to self-selection bias. (Seto, 2008, pp. 180-181)
Drug treatment could potentially have a deterrent effect on recidivism, but the data is lacking and is heavily prone to self-selection bias. (Seto, 2008, pp. 177-181) Leuprolide acetate (LPA) could potentially be even more effective than surgical castration on account of surgical castration removes the source of testosterone from the testes, but testosterone is still produced by the adrenals. LPA inhibits testosterone production by overriding pituitary regulation, regardless where that testosterone comes from.
There's been a wide variety of psychological/therapeutic treatments. The behavioral therapies include aversion therapy, covert sensitization, shame aversion therapy, masturbatory satiation, orgasmic reconditioning, and systematic desensitization. The cognitive therapies include recognition of cognitive distortions, recognition of denial, empathy training, anger management, social skills training, assertiveness training, sex education, stress reduction, autobiographical awareness, values clarification, and relapse prevention. Studies on the effect of psychological/therapeutic treatment on recidivism have shown mixed results and, in addition, they're heavily prone to self-selection bias. (Seto, 2008, pp. 167-176)
So based on the data for all the treatment methods: psychosurgery, surgical castration, drugs, and therapy, I think we simply don't know what works. They're all heavily prone to self-selection bias. However, I think it's dangerous to coerce or force treatment on someone. Furthermore, many of the treatments have a fair chance of being experienced as traumatic. I think a sound approach would be consensual use of medication in addition to the consensual use of cognitive therapy. Medication is less likely to be experienced as traumatic, is non-permanent, and is possibly more effective than psychosurgery and surgical castration (if using LPA). Furthermore, cognitive therapy seems a better choice than behavior therapy since it's less likely to be experienced as traumatic and it's probably more effective as well.
When it comes to hypersexuality, it's a wonder how many of these people have a genuinely stronger sex drive than the norm, how many simply lack inhibitions in regards to their sexuality, and how many have an obsessive-compulsive personality in regards to their sexuality.
Castration can potentially decrease sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
An adrenalectomy, in combination with castration, has an even better chance of decreasing sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Leuprolide acetate (LPA), Cyproterone acetate (CPA), and Medroxyprogesterone acetate (MPA) can potentially decreasing sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior. LPA is likely the most effective, probably even more effective than physical castration.
When it comes to hyposexuality, it's a wonder how many of these people have a genuinely weaker sex drive than the norm, how many simply have a partner that they aren't very sexually attracted to, and how many are simply aversive to sex due to past sexual trauma.
The "use it or lose it" principle functions for practically all areas of our being, if we don't use a certain quality of our being, it weakens. This has been well-researched in many areas, so it's a wonder if it applies to sexuality as well. It could very well be that if we lack sexual stimulation as children or during puberty, we might have a damaged ability to function sexually. (Ellison, 2000, p. 36; Money, 1978)
It's a wonder if there's really a difference between asexuality and hyposexuality. Asexuality suggests that you have no sexual orientation but you could theoretically still have a sex drive, and so you could still get horny and masturbate to... well, nothingness. Whereas, hyposexuality suggests that you still have a sexual orientation but you simply have little to no sex drive to act on whatever you find sexually attractive. What I find interesting is that many self-labeled asexuals have attempted courtship and they generally attempt courtship with someone of the other gender. You could claim that's simply because courting the other gender is more socially acceptable and maybe easier access to most, but you could also claim that they were driven to the other gender by a sexual orientation. It's hard to know for sure and I think evidence is lacking to say at this point whether there's any significant difference between asexuality and hyposexuality.
Any testosterone increasing drugs can potentially increase sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Psychosurgery of the hypothalamus might affect sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Basically any psychoactive substance has the potential to effect one's sex drive. However, some are more likely to have an effect than others. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's), serotonin anatagonists, carbamazepine, clonazepam, buspirone, lithium carbonate, and guanethidine commonly affect sexual thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
It's difficult to organize different sexual orientations. Many are closely related, many could easily fit in multiple categories, and many could easily have variable ontologies. I've tried to keep it simple.
There are many outlets for voyeurs, such as watching porn, going to a strip club, etcetera. Voyeurism is generally only a problem when there's a pathological desire to invade on someone's privacy. There might be sexual attraction to the curiosity or nonconsent of it. To give some examples, staring at someone when they don't want to be looked at, or spying/eavesdropping on people having sex.
There are many outlets for exhibitionists, usually requiring above average sexual attractiveness though, such as dancing, stripping, porn, etcetera. Exhibitionism is generally only a problem when the desire is towards unsuspecting individuals. There might be sexual attraction to the shock or nonconsent of it.
Exhibitionism is generally thought to affect males more than females, but it could just be that female exhibitionism is either more subtle or just overlooked. For example, many females wear especially revealing clothing as a form of exhibitionism, and few recognize it as such. Another example involves females that flash people at parties. While it's also common for males to flash at parties, males are more likely to be viewed negatively as perverts for doing so, whereas females are more likely to be viewed positively as wild.
There's a fine line between toucherism and rape, since they both involve tactile behavior. Furthermore, it's unknown how many toucherists are primarily sexually attracted to mere rubbing or groping, and how many toucherists would actually prefer penetrative acts but are too inhibited either by empathy or by fear of consequences.
Notes: I'm intentionally avoiding legal definitions of rape because it just makes this whole issue more complicated than necessary (e.g. statutory rape).
Rape is an extremely complicated issue for several reasons:
According to Kilpatrick et al. (2007), only somewhere between 10% and 20% of rapes are committed by strangers. This is comparable to CSA in that it's only committed by strangers in a small minority of cases. (Snyder, 2000) And while it's known that only a small minority of CSA cases are forceful and violent, it's not known how many cases of adult rape are forceful and violent, compared to how many are on the coercive or otherwise nonviolent and less intrusive side. Lisak et al. (2010) did find that between 2-10% of rape cases are false reports, and these numbers might very well cover rape reports that are due to regret (sex she consented to but ended up feeling negative about) and revenge (sex might or might not have occurred, but she wants the male to suffer regardless). However, that still leaves a high percentage of rape cases in which it's unknown in regards to the type or severity.
From the data that is available, it's possible to deduce the likely severity of most adult rapes. Considering that the large majority of rape perpetrators are known to the victim, this suggests they'd be less inclined to be forceful and violent because:
Considering these points and also considering that force and violence is rare in CSA cases (Okami & Goldberg, 1992), it seems likely that most rape cases are on the coercive side rather than the forceful and violent side.
On a side note, it should be kept in mind that there might be significant differences in severity when comparing rapes that are reported to police compared to rapes that aren't (but that the female might tell her friends or researchers about).
Rape exists on a continuum, the mild forms being on the coercive and nonviolent side, the extreme forms being forceful and violent. It's a mistake to assume all rapes are the same, yet that seems to be the tendency society has. When people hear the word "rape", they generally assume forceful and violent. It should be considered that most rapes aren't so black and white. To illustrate this, imagine a case where both partners were intoxicated and where there were mixed and confusing signals involved, perhaps because of that the female (or male) ends up feeling raped when it wasn't intentional.
Male-On-Female Rape: The primary variables hypothesized to cause male-on-female rape include:
That last variable comes with a lot of controversy. There's a significant amount of people who seem to adamantly deny the possibility that some people might rape due to being being horny. I have several considerations in regards to these variables.
"Many feminists call attention to male anger as a motive in some rapes but fail to note what is obvious in many interviews with rapists, that the anger is partly sexual, aimed at women because women incite ungratifiable sexual desire. Deliberately provocative behavior or dress is not the key issue: women inspire male sexual desire simply by existing." (Symons, 1979, p. 284)
"Most people agree that women have the right to say no at any point during sexual activity, and that if a man persists he is a rapist—but should we also believe that his motive has instantaneously changed from wanting sex to oppressing women?" (Pinker, 2002, p. 367)
There are several memes referred to as "rape myths". To call them rape myths is probably inaccurate, for there is likely a combination of truth and fiction to them.
Male-on-male rape: This form of rape likely has nothing to do with hatred towards females, but like female-on-male rape, there's still a significant amount of people who seem to adamantly deny the possibility that some people might rape due to being horny. They suggest it's due to a desire for power (to assert dominance). However, anecdotes of male-on-male rape usually involve an erect penis. It's doubtful a rapist would have an erect penis unless he was sexually aroused.
Female-on-female rape: This form of rape likely occurs for similar reasons as male-on-male rape. However, because of the lack of noticeable erections, it's more difficult to dispute the claim that rape is due solely for the desire for power (to assert dominance).
Female-on-male rape: This form of rape is probably more likely to be on the coercive side than on the forceful side. This is because males are generally physically stronger than females, and the physiological mechanics of sex can make certain forms of female-on-male rape more difficult. If the physical strength obstacle can be overcome, a female can do a damn good job at raping a male's mouth and anus. When it comes to penile rape, however, things are more complicated.
"Paradoxically, while some believe that if a male has an erection, sexual abuse cannot have taken place, others believe that if a male does not have an erection that sexual abuse cannot have taken place." (Hislop, 2001, p. 33)
I've often encountered the meme that if a male has an erection then that means he wants to have sex and so he can't be raped, but I've never encountered the meme that if a female is wet then that means she wants to have sex and so she can't be raped.
With all that being said, it's possible for a flaccid penis to be forced inside a mouth, or stuffed inside a vagina or anus. Furthermore, sexuality is complex, and it's possible for the body to respond sexually even if the mind doesn't want it.
Female-on-male rape might actually be more common than male-on-female rape in insects. In many species of insects, the female eats the male during or after having sex. While some might argue that this behavior is different from rape, when humans behave similarly it's almost always regarded as rape. However, female-on-male rape is rare in other classes. Hamsters might be one of the few exceptions. (Payne & Swanson, 1971)
Human-on-animal rape: It could be argued that many Americans rape their animals without realizing it, by castrating them. With that point aside, it's probably easier for most people to rape animals than it is to rape humans due to viewing animals as less than, and therefore being less inhibited by empathy.
Animal-on-human rape: This is a surprisingly neglected issue. It's well-known that dogs will hump the legs of humans, which can be considered a mild form of rape (unless it's wanted), but there are sometimes extreme cases of rape of humans by animals. There are reports of rape occurring between orangatans and human females as well as between canines and human children.
Animal-on-animal rape: This is actually fairly common in some species, and some species of animals will even rape animals of a different species.
Secondary rape: This describes the process by which rape victims are handled by agencies through invasive questioning, inspecting, and taking samples from the body, the whole process of which can feel like rape itself. Furthermore, giving birth to a child conceived through rape can elicit feelings of being raped again.
Notes: This is not a complete list, but a concise one.
The concept of BDSM might benefit from being reorganized/reconceptualized. There are probably 2 fundamental aspects of BDSM: possession (domination and submission) and punishment (sadism and masochism). Even though there's probably a strong correlation between the 2, they probably have a different etiological basis. The reason they're likely to be strongly correlated is because giving or receiving pain/punishment (sadism and masochism), in itself, can be acts which show signs of possession (domination and submission).
Bondage and discipline is often discussed in the context of BDSM, but those 2 activities are just popular manifestations of either possession or pain/punishment activities. Bondage is more likely to belong to the possession category while discipline is more likely to belong to the pain/punishment category, but either activity could belong to either category depending on how they're used.
There's the popular foreign phrase "veni, vidi, vici" which translates to "I came, I saw, I conquered." When it comes to domination, it's more along the lines of, "vidi, vici, veni". In other words, "I saw, I conquered, I came."
Sex in its most basic form is a game of give and take, in more extreme forms it's a game of submission and domination.
"The men who seek this out are on a higher level. I just sense that some of them actually have guilt for an entire society. They want to be punished because of the rules that most of society has placed upon women. They're frustrated that men have had the position to make all of the decisions and be in control, so if they go to a dominant woman and get punished by her, then they are healing not only themselves, but a part of the world. They actually find a great release. It's a kind of mental enema." (Queen Adrena, as quoted in Gates, 2000, p. 126)
The above quote is in reference to males that hire dominatrices. However, probably any gender can be inclined toward sadomasochism due to guilt or vengeance toward another gender or toward sexuality in general.
"Safe, sane, and consensual."
- The BDSM motto.
Many people think that nonhuman animals are incapable of consenting to sex with humans. Consent to sex might actually be much simpler with nonhuman animals than it is with humans since it's not rigged with social implications (on the nonhuman animal's side at least). If an animal doesn't want to have sex with you then it will run away, or scratch you, or bite you, but if an animal does want to have sex with you then it will tackle you to the floor and hump you.
Carol Queen (1997) rhetorically asked, "If I writhe with pleasure while a snake crawls on me, will the snake find that experience any different from slithering across me when I'm not turned on?" (p. 15) Similarly, Queen (1997) suggested it absurd that, "a dog who licks peanut butter off your hand is getting a treat, while the same dog licking peanut butter off a dick is being sexually abused." (p. 15) Queen (1997) went on to say, "In Dog World, sex doesn't mean the same thing it does to us. It certainly doesn't come laden with notions of abuse and shame, as anyone who's ever met a leg-humping dog must surely recognize. Animals don't wear clothes, they don't go to No-Tell Motels to fuck, and they definitely don't invest their genitals with the kind of special status humans tend to do." (p. 15)
It's often said that nonhuman animals wouldn't actually want to have sex with humans. In response to nonhuman animals that will hump humans, it's said they do it only to assert dominance. To such claims, I ask, how do you know that's why they do it?
You might bear some degree of moral responsibility for an animal's future behavior. For example, some nonhuman animals might not be naturally inclined to mount humans, but can be trained to do so, and might voluntarily try to mount humans only after learning to do so. This has implications if there's the possibility of small children being around that wouldn't be able to fight off a nonhuman animal's sexual advances.
Whoever's concerned about consensual sex between humans and nonhuman animals should consider that some species of nonhuman animals rape other nonhuman animals.
Whoever's concerned about consensual sex between humans and nonhuman animals should also consider: animal labor, confinement of animals as pets, confinement of animals in zoos, animals being hunted and killed for sport, animals being hunted, confined, tortured, and killed for food, animals being castrated, and the possibility that animals might not be happy having no sexual outlet which is often the case when there's an inability to masturbate and no other animals around.
Notes: This is not a complete list, but a concise one. Also, many of these infections can be spread through nonsexual human-animal contact as well.
"Males do not represent two discrete populations, heterosexual and homosexual. The world is not to be divided into sheep and goats. Not all things are black and white. It is a fundamental taxonomy that nature rarely deals with discrete categories. Only the human mind invents categories and tries to force facts into separated pigeon-holes. The living world is a continuum in each and every one of its aspects. The sooner we learn this concerning human sexual behavior the sooner we shall reach a sound understanding of the realities of sex." (Kinsey et al., 1948, p. 639) (Though only males were referenced, that's simply because this book cited was focused on males, the same applies to females as well.)
"Whether we have expansive or narrow definitions of heterosexuality and homosexuality, love and lust, or clothed and naked sex, depends on the cultural significance that these dimensions have in both our personal lives and the collective expressions of sexuality around us. Definitions should not be created to exhaust reality, to stand for all time, or to account for all meanings in all circumstances. The utility of a definition is the directions it gives us for looking at the world. The definition should not be confused with the world itself. The map is not the territory." (Gagnon, 1977, p. 237)
"Some bisexuals seem to be "really" gay, whereas others seem to be "really" straight; that some are attracted to both genders, and others are inattentive to gender altogether; that some experience their bisexuality as a distinct orientation, and others as the lack of an orientation; that some experience it only in the realm of emotional feelings, and others only in the realm of sexual feelings; that some experience nonexclusive attractions all the time, and others only under certain circumstances. There is no point in trying to figure out which one of these characterizations represents true bisexuality - they are all true." (Diamond, 2008, p. 135)
The terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" are troubling when it comes to transgenders, transsexuals, and some intersexuals as well. If a female has a male gender identity, yet still finds herself primarily sexually attracted to males, should she identify as "homosexual" since her sexual orientation matches her gender identity even though it doesn't match her anatomical sex? To settle this problem, the terms "androsexual" and "gynesexual" can be used.
Studies show that monozygotic twins are more likely to both be homosexuals than are other siblings. However, studies vary widely in their concordance rates, anywhere from 0% and 100%, with studies that exclude self-selection bias fairing on the lower side. (Bearman & Brückner, 2002)
Twin studies have provided strong evidence that nurture must play a role in gendersexuality. The fact that there are so many twins that end up amongst such different ends on the gendersexuality continuum, despite having the same nature, shows that there must be other factors that play a role besides genes. What's interesting is that not only do monozygotic twins share the same genes, their prenatal environment is probably similar as well, and their life experiences are likely to be more similar than other siblings, considering that they are synchronous in chronological age and they generally share much in physical appearance. So what factors are left that could possibly result in monozygotic twins varying so much in gendersexuality? It's possible that, despite sharing the same egg, their prenatal environment could still differ somewhat. Aside from that, each twin still has their own unique life experiences.
It's been found that gender noncomformity is by far the biggest predictor of homosexuality. (Bailey & Zucker, 1995) However, whether or not a child will be gender conforming or gender nonconforming is predisposed largely by the child's prenatal environment. It's not that prenatal hormones have a direct effect on our gendersexuality or gender identity, it's that they have a direct effect on the child's personality, which then inclines the child to be gender conforming or gender nonconforming, which then effects the child's gendersexuality and gender identity. The reason gender conformity and gender nonconformity play such a strong role in gendersexuality is because of the "exotic becomes erotic" principle. (Bem, 1996)
A child notices the differences between the genders. The differences are what's exotic and they can then becomes erotic to the child for that reason. So why do some children end up being sexually attracted to the same gender? That's because the other gender doesn't seem as exotic to the child as the same gender does. If the child is gender nonconforming, then he feels more similar to the other gender, and so the same gender seems more exotic, maybe not in physical appearance but at least in personality, and that difference can then make the same gender erotic. Bem (1996) made a temporal sequence of events to help visualize this.
Bem originally only stated that a child would first feel "nonspecific autonomic arousal" to differences and wouldn't feel sexual arousal to differences until puberty. I don't know if this was a social maneuver on Bem's part to avoid explicitly discussing child sexual arousal, or if he had asexual children in mind. For an asexual child, that's probably how it works. For a child that's sexual since birth or since a young age, step 5a would be skipped and it'd go straight to sexual arousal. I've modified Bem's sequence to add the sexual child.
It's been found that each additional older brother increases the chance of homosexuality in males by approximately 33%. (Blanchard & Klassen, 1997) This is true only for older brothers, not for older sisters. (Blanchard & Klassen, 1997) Also, this is only true for biological older brothers, not for nonbiological older brothers. (Bogaert, 2006) What could be the explanation for this!? It's somewhat speculative as of now, but it's thought that a male infant produces H-Y antigens, and that the mother's body responds to such H-Y antigens with H-Y antibodies. These H-Y antibodies have an inhibiting affect on the masculinization of the male infant's brain. With further male infant pregnancies, the mother's immune response strengthens to the male infant's H-Y antigens, which means even more H-Y antibodies are produced, which means there's even less masculinization of the male infant's brain. (Blanchard & Klassen, 1997) The less masculinization, the more likely the male will have gender nonconforming behavior.
Social circumstances can also play a big role in gendersexuality. If a society regards homosexuality as normal to engage in, then it will be more common in that society than in one that scorns it. Childhood sexual experiences with either gender can probably have an impact as well. (Gebhard et al., 1965/1967, pp. 58, 445-450, 474-478) The research shows that females are more likely than males to be bisexual. (Diamond, 2008) As children, it's seen as okay for females to hug and kiss other females, and they might continue that as they get older, simply as a way of showing affection. Males are more likely to be shamed or scorned for showing affection to other males. Perhaps these childhood experiences of affection can increase their potential for sexual attraction to the same gender, then this can account for the gender differences in bisexuality.
"Consider the possibility that most males come out of the womb with an orientation that says "Seriously Straight" or "Seriously Gay." For these guys, it's the sensation in their dicks rather than anything culture has to say that charts their sexual course in life. But what about boys who come out of the womb sitting on the sexual fence? Perhaps culture has a significant influence on their sexual choices."
- Paul Joannides (Though he references males, I'm confident his point would apply similarly to females.)
It seems there are 4 basic concerns when it comes to children of same-gendered parents.
There's a fair chance that children under the age of 3 won't remember their sexual experiences (though they sometimes do). You could argue that even if they don't remember it, the experiences could still have a lasting subconscious effect that could harm them. If that's the case, you'd also need to consider that breastfeeding and cleaning a child's genitals and anus after changing their diaper could be harmful.
Like nonhuman animals, infants have a limited ability to communicate through spoken language. However, also like nonhuman animals, they can still communicate through body language.
Notes: Mainstream society often uses pedosexuality/pedophilia to refer to any sexual thoughts, feelings, or behavior from or between an adult and someone who's under the Age of Consent, regardless how much or how little. It's sometimes used even more loosely to refer to any sexual thoughts, feelings, or behavior from or between an older adult and a younger adult.
Pedosexuality is an extremely complicated issue for several reasons:
According to Snyder (2000), only 7% of adut-child sex is committed by strangers. Force and violence is rare in child sexual abuse (CSA) cases. (Okami & Goldberg, 1992)
In many societies, you're seen as a child until you hit puberty, then you're seen as an adult. In current American society, not only is there "child" and "adult", but there's also "teenager/adolescent" and "tween/preteen/preadolescent".
The Age of Consent was 10 in America until the 1880's. There are a couple of interesting contradictions I've noticed. 1) As the Age of Consent has been increasing, the age of puberty has been decreasing. On a side note, children are also dressing more provocatively these days. On another side note, pop icons are also getting younger. 2) As the Age of Consent has been increasing, the age at which a delinquent child can be charged as an adult criminal has been decreasing.
"We can say neither that 'children are asexual' nor that 'children are sexual'. We can only say that children develop sexual curiosity and sexual interest and pleasure at differing rates. Just as the sexuality of women has historically been misrepresented, either discounted altogether in the myth of 'frigid' passivity or else construed as the randy nymphomania so beloved of pornography, so we are in danger of misrepresenting children's experiences." (Goode, 2010, p. 171)
Reynolds, Herbenick, & Bancroft (2003) found that 63% of females and 70% of males experienced sexual arousal prepubertally. The mean age of prepubertal sexual arousal for females was 9.2 and for males it was 8.8. (p. 142)
Reynolds, Herbenick, & Bancroft (2003) found that 38% of females and 67% of males experienced sexual attraction prepubertally. The mean age of prepubertal sexual attraction for females was 10.2 and for males it was 11. (p. 142)
The age at which children first masturbate and first orgasm varies widely. However, it can confidently be said that prepubertal masturbation and orgasm isn't rare, and it's generally found that females are more likely than males to masturbate and orgasm as children. (Stroud, 2014c)
I find it interesting how so many people regard children as asexual, yet they try so desperately to shield them from sexuality. Adults block TV shows and internet sites because they're scared of their children looking at them and the impact it might have on their psychological well-being. If children are asexual, then why would they want to look at something sexual? Perhaps by accident or out of curiosity, but if that were the case, it doesn't seem like it should be much concern as they would get bored once their curiosity is satisfied.
Another contradiction I've noticed is how parents will think of children as asexual, yet scold or hit a child if they catch that child playing with his/her genitals or looking at sexual media. If children seem asexual, perhaps it's because they've learned to hide their sexual behavior due to such scorn.
"A lot of parents would probably feel more relaxed if sexuality magically appeared at puberty or, better yet, marriage. Many parents have mixed feelings about their own sexuality and any recognition of sexuality in their children may arouse their own unresolved anxieties." (Reiss & Reiss, 1997, p. 39)
"Doctors and scientists are unremitting in poking and prying into every other facet of child development. We poke with needles, pry under the microscope, measure with radioactive tracers or nuclear magnetic resonance, analyze chemistries in the laboratory, and subject children to long-term scrutiny and statistics. By contrast, sexuoerotic development is blanketed by an avoidance taboo." (Money, 1986, pp. 17-18)
It's difficult to get accurate statistics for CSA for many reasons. For instance, there's a lot of definitional variations on the terms "child", "adult", and "child sexual abuse". If you define "child" as anyone under 18 then that clumps together a lot of pubescent sexual experiences with prepubescent sexual experiences which are likely to carry very different implications. Furthermore, if "child sexual abuse" can be anything from consensual noncontact sexual experiences (such as voyeurism and exhibitionism) to forceful and violent penetration, then that clumps together very different experiences which are also likely to carry very different implications.
There's a fine and blurry line between affectional love and sexual love. For example, parents that kiss their children on the lips are more likely to be considered affectional, but a teacher that kisses any students on the lips is more likely to be considered sexual, even if the context and manner of the kiss is similar.
"One of the ways in which women commonly and regularly abuse children is by enforced kissing. At church socials I have often observed a group of women passing a baby from one to the other, each one cuddling and kissing it in turn while the poor child cried and struggled desperately to get away. I have memories of being assaulted in this way during my own childhood; when walking in the street with my mother I dreaded encountering certain of her female friends because I knew that I would be forcibly seized, lifted off the ground, and enveloped in a suffocatingly massive bosom. It seems that many women feel that they have some kind of divine right, by virtue of their femininity, to behave in this way." (Randall, 1992, p. 209)
Just because you have the ability to consent, doesn't mean you have the ability to be competent about it. Likewise, just because you have the ability to be competent, doesn't mean you utilize it in all circumstances you consent to. I'll illustrate these 2 points. I can ask an adult if he'd like an energy bar and he can say yes without even reading the ingredients. In other words, he consented to eating the protein bar without competence. Now consider this time when I offer him the energy bar, I also explain the ingredients to him and what affect those ingredients have in the body. Now if he still says yes to eating the protein bar, there's a good chance he was competent in his decision. A lot of people use the term "informed consent", but it's possible to be informed without being competent. On that note, the difference with children is that, even after having been explained the risks and benefits of something, they still might not understand it. A firm ability to understand risks and benefits probably isn't well-developed until around age 14. (Ohio v. Akron, 1990)
It's often said that children don't have the ability to consent. Does a child not have the ability to consent to eating food, to taking a bath, to sitting on his parents' lap? I think what people actually mean is that children lack the ability of competent consent. People are more likely to use the term "informed consent" but that's not as accurate. You can be completely informed of something, but if you don't understand it, then the information is practically meaningless to you. Furthermore, lacking competence doesn't automatically make any choices you consent to harmful, otherwise children would be traumatized by their simple day-to-day existence. Lacking competence only means that it's up to competent others to guide incompetent individuals' choices so that they don't choose things that put them at risk of harm.
In a 1989 amicus brief by the American Psychiatric Association (Ohio v. Akron, 1990), they stated that, "By age 14, most adolescents have developed adult-like intellectual and social capacities." They went on to say that some children as young as 11 possess these adult-like capabilities. That was their reason for deciding that underage females can competently consent to getting an abortion without parental notice. I just find it a bit odd that an underage female can competently consent to aborting a fetus that might have come from an adult she supposedly couldn't competently consent to. Some might say that having sex is different from having an abortion but my rhetoric is, why is someone deemed competent in some circumstances but not in others?
I find it interesting that society doesn't consider wooing as manipulative, coercive, or abusive in any way, yet society considers grooming as all those things even though they're essentially the same. They're both simply strategies of showing the best side of yourself in order to form a sexual relationship with someone. It should also be considered that not all cases of what the media calls grooming are legitimate. Sometimes an adult might treat a child nicely simply because he/she has a genuine desire to make that child happy, and sexual expression between that adult and child naturally develop from there as a byproduct.
Some people believe an imbalance of power is what makes sex with children wrong. If that's the case, consider that imbalances of power can occur in any relationship, even between adults. For example, males are generally physically stronger than females and have a higher socioeconomic status on average than females too, meaning they have the potential to have power over females in these regards. For another example, data suggests that males generally have a higher sex drive than females, in which case, a female could be said to have a sexual power advantage over males. Yes, people might have potential power over others under various circumstances, but just because they have that potential, doesn't mean they have to use/abuse it.
I suppose in the case of children, people might argue it's different from power imbalances between adults, since some believe children have an innate disposition to obey adults just to please them, even if they don't want to do what the adults are asking. I don't think that theory holds up under scrutiny. Sometimes children initiate sex with adults, under such circumstances it doesn't seem to be a case of obedience since the adult never asked anything of the child. Furthermore, children don't always obey adults, look at all the children that will ignore requests to clean their room. Conversely, sometimes adults will perform actions that they don't want to do, just to please another adult (or child).
"When children are constantly warned by parents and teachers against contacts with adults, and when they receive no explanation of the exact nature of the contacts, they are ready to become hysterical as soon as any older person approaches, or stops and speaks to them in the street, or fondles them, or proposes to do something for them, even though the adult may have had no sexual objective in mind. Some of the more experienced students of juvenile problems have come to believe that the emotional reactions of the parents, police officers, and other adults who discover that the child has had such a contact, may disturb the child more seriously than the sexual contacts themselves." (Kinsey et al., 1953, p. 121)
"Sex is a moral issue. But it is neither a different nor a greater moral issue than many other aspects of human interaction. Sex is not a separate category of life, it should not be regarded as a separate category of art, education, politics, or commerce, or of emotional harm or benefit. Child or teen sex can be moral or immoral. And so can our treatment of the children and teens who desire it and act on that desire." (Levine, 2002, p. xxxiv)
"The trauma of youngsters' sex, with anyone, often comes not from the sex itself but from adults going bananas over it. As for "sexual behavior problems" the trauma inflicted by the "cure" may be far worse than the "disease" itself." (Levine, 2002, p. 60)
"There is often as much harm done to the child by the system's handling of the case as the trauma associated with the abuse." (Levine, 2002, p. 85)
An especially interesting topic is of children who had consensual sex with adults and ended up feeling potentially worse about it later on in life precisely because it was consensual. As Clancy (2009) noted in her research "Victims say they feel guilty because the abuse was not done against their will." (p. 132) When there's consent, it can feel more like something you did rather than something that happened to you, and there's psychological implications that go with that. Similarly, some children also end up feeling potentially worse if the sex with the adult wasn't painful or violent. As a volunteer in Clancy's (2009) research put it "I wish it was violent. That it did leave marks or scars. Then at least I would have known that it was bad, something bad was being done to me. Then I would have stopped it.... I would feel less guilt.... I might not be feeling so shitty today." (p. 135) The fact that sex can feel good for children, yet they're told it's bad, can end up adding to the confusion and guilt for children.
"Stop automatically referring the sexually abused for therapy. CSA is not a psychiatric disorder or a syndrome. Rather it is an event or series of events in a person's life. Treatment is indicated only when there is a currently demonstrable harm. To treat the asymptomatic child/adolescent is comparable to a physician treating child/adolescent for bicycle accidents. Many who have a bicycle accident do not require treatment. When they do need treatment, it is for the clinical condition rather than the event responsible for that condition. In other words, the asymptomatic child or adolescent should not be treated." (Oellerich, 2000)
Society and religion often harm children with their antisexual messages worse than adults who have sex with children do.
Stranger danger memes are more likely to develop in individuals a generalized fear of the world rather than help children avoid actual danger. When adults are attractive, have a pleasant personality, and have aesthetic skills to show, they don't seem like a stranger to children, they seem appealing. Children are likely to interact with such adults, even though they haven't been introduced by their parents. In other words, nature trumps nurture in children under such circumstances. You can experience or witness this for yourself if you ever go to parks where children play.
If you're still worried about strangers interacting with your children, then you, as an adult or parent, can keep an eye on your children, but it's unrealistic to expect your children to be able to recognize potential danger. What you can do that might be effective is let your children know that they can tell you if anyone ever touches their genitals or otherwise behaves unusually.
Children have special laws applied just to them, which are often quite unique compared to any other variables such as race, sexual orientation, or gender. Children have curfew laws (how late they can stay out at night), privacy laws (their blogs will automatically be hidden), and plenty of sexual laws (they can't look at sex nor can they engage in sex even if they want to). Interestingly, it's often not the child who gets in trouble for breaking these laws, it's the parents or adults involved. I suppose people either don't view children as capable of making competent choices or they're viewed as lacking free will, yet people will simultaneously consider a child as blameworthy for misbehaving, which is quite a contradiction. For example, if a child gets caught by the police for staying out late at night, it's the parents' fault, but if a child gets caught by his/her parents for staying out late at night, it's the child's fault. Aside from questioning free will's role in these laws, I think it's also important to question how helpful or harmful these laws are. It probably depends a great deal on the specific law and how the case is handled. For example, in some states it's legal to have sex with a 16 year old yet illegal to have a naked picture of a 16 year old. There seems to be weak relationships between one law to another and weak reasoning behind their purpose.
How common a trait is across different times and different places provides evidence to its innate quality. Adult-child sexual relations appears to be ubiquitous, across all times and places. (Francoeur & Noonan, 2004) Like homosexuality, it can vary by time and place from anywhere between common to rare. Also like homosexuality, it can vary a great deal in its acceptance, although adult-child sexual relations are more likely to be unaccepted than homosexuality. I'll list some societies that have accepted various forms of adult-child sexual relations:
It's common amongst many species for children to masturbate and to have sex with other children, but it's rare for adults to have sex with children. There are some exceptions though, which I'll list:
The physiological development of children is more important than the chronological age of children to most pedosexuals. (Lang, Rouget, & van Santen, 1988)
Children generally find higher waist-to-hip ratios in females and lower waist-to-hip ratios in males more attractive than adults. (Connolly, Slaughter, & Mealey, 2004) This is a fascinating finding since being attracted to lower waist-to-hip ratios in women is often thought to be innate since lower waist-to-hip ratios in women are naturally better for reproduction. This finding brings up the possibility that social interaction might play a role in waist-to-hip ratio preferences. Children are more likely to interact with other children and, therefore, find higher waist-to-hip ratios in females and lower waist-to-hip ratios in males more attractive (since they're more child-like). Similarly, adults are more likely to interact with other adults and, therefore, find lower waist-to-hip ratios in woman and higher waist-to-hip ratios in men more attractive (since they're more adult-like). The other possibility is that puberty can cause changes in the brain which results in changes in waist-to-hip ratio preferences.
Homosexuality seems to be more common amongst pedosexuals than adultosexuals. Blanchard et al. (2000) found that 25% of pedosexuals are sexually attracted to males. Compare this to 1% - 11% of adultosexuals. (Gates, 2011) Perhaps there's a factor which increases the likelihood of both homosexuality and pedosexuality in individuals. Another possibility is that male pedosexuals that have sex with male children are probably reported more frequently by adults than male pedosexuals that have sex with females children since it's an even more highly scorned behavior.
Self-reports and phallometry all find surprisingly large numbers of pedosexuals in the general population. (Goode, 2010, pp. 19-20) 1) Self-selection bias, 2) the definition of the term "child", and 3) the consideration that phallometry is open to interpretation, all make it difficult to infer too much from this.
We call our sex partners "boy"friends and "girl"friends. We also call our sex partners "baby". I wouldn't grant too much significance to these observations though, they could mostly just be coincidences.
Most adolescents are probably capable of competent consent. (Ohio v. Akron, 1990) As Levine put it, "Statutory rape is not about sex the victim says she did not want. It is about sex she did want but which adults believe she only thought she wanted because she wasn't old enough to know she did not want it." (2002, p. 72) Furthermore, secondary sex characteristics develop during puberty, making it probably natural for adults to find them sexually attractive. And yet, in many places it's still illegal and there's still a lot of scorn towards adults that have sex with adolescents.
It should be considered that it's rare to find any species of animals that aren't sexually attracted to or avoid sex with pubescents/adolescents. Baboons are a possible exception, in which males prefer to mate with adult females (yet females are less picky about age). (Anderson & Bielert, 1990, pp. 176-200)
It's a wonder how many hebesexuals are actually sexually attracted to the concept of virginity more than the physiological development of an adolescent.
"Nothing seems to man to be more desirable than what has never belonged to any human being : then the conquest seems like a unique and absolute event. Virgin lands have always fascinated explorers ; mountain climbers are killed each year because they wish to violate an untouched peak." (Hamilton, 1995/2008)
The issue of adults having sex with seniors is complicated. It's generally regarded that there's a fair likelihood of mental decay that goes along with the physical decay of aging. This, along with an increased likelihood of power imbalance as well, provides reason for some to view sexual relationships with seniors as harmful. It's case by case in regards to whether seniors have "mental decay" and if that affects their ability to competently consent. Furthermore, even if their ability to competently consent is compromised, and even if there's a power imbalance, that doesn't necessarily make having sex with them harmful.
Sometimes people have a primary sexual attraction to fairly specific age ranges. For example, 20-25, 25-30, etcetera. As long as such age groups aren't considered to be minors or seniors, this is usually not problematic, though there can still be some social opprobrium towards relationships between individuals of extreme age differences.
It's a popular misconception that most furries are also furverts. In reality, only a minority are.
Notes: Mainstream society often uses fetishism in a more general manner, to refer to practically any type of deviant sexual attraction.
Common fetishes include:
The development of fetishes is dependent on experiences. Fetishes are going to vary in different times and different places. For example, British school children during World War 2 developed a fetish for gas masks. This is logical since they wore gas masks during air raids, an event that has a fair chance of being experienced as traumatic. For another example, during the Victorian Era some individuals developed a fetish for watching women wring the neck of geese. This is also logical since it was common at that time to kill geese like that before cooking and eating them, and it's also an event that has a fair chance of being experienced as traumatic.
Transvestosexuality is said to be much more rare in females. To help understand this, consider that there are little to no clothing items that are considered "exclusively male" yet many clothing items that are considered "exclusively female". This could explain why females are rarely transvestosexuals. After all, what is there to be deemed masculine and imprinted in their sexual orientation?
Transvestosexuality is practically nonexistent in homosexual males. Drag queens are examples of homosexual males that cross-dress, but they don't do it out of sexual attraction. This is further evidence of the lack of masculine clothing items to be imprinted.
There's the partly comical and partly serious argument that most females have a fetish for all clothes. Additionally, perhaps society is just less likely to recognize and label transvestosexuality in females. If a male wears his girlfriend's underwear, it's considered fetishistic, but if a female wears her boyfriend's underwear, it's not.
"Bonnie Bullough and I have used a combination of disciplines, including history and sociology, to demonstrate that though cross-dressing has been widespread in the past, most of those who did it for any length of time were women trying to escape from the role limitations put on them. This was because the masculine role gave not only higher status but greater freedom. Though there were occasional instances of males cross-dressing to serve as prostitutes and of homosexuals playing at being feminine, the heterosexual male cross-dresser seems to be a mostly twentieth-century phenomenon, and one that has escalated rapidly since 1960." (Bullough, 1994, pp. 221-222)
"In plush we thrust."
- The plushosexual motto.
Bubble Gund is vinyl cleaning fluid that's popular for cleaning stuffed animals.
"It's not the meat, it's the motion." The inflation fetishism motto. The meaning behind this motto is that inflation fetishism isn't just about the size of the body part, but how fast it gets there, which is why plastic surgery and edited images aren't especially sexually attractive to inflation fetishists.
In regards to prostisexuality, because of the saint/slut dichotomy placed on females, some males feel guilty having sex with females they have a close relationship with. This is due to sex causing the male to feel as though he's making her slutty. Some males develop a pathological sexual attraction to prostitutes for this reason, since they already view prostitutes as sluts then they don't feel as though they're corrupting them and, therefore, they feel no guilt in that regard.
Incest is rare under natural conditions in the large majority of species and appears to be common in only a small minority of species. A couple exceptions are adult mother chimpanzees and macaques which commonly have sex with their own prepubescent sons. (Pusey, 1990, pp. 207, 213-214) However, the likelihood of incest can increase significantly in captivity when little to no other sex partners are available. (Pusey, 1990, pp. 201-220)
The "novelty increases attraction" principle might explain how reverse sexual imprinting occurs, considering that those that live together at a young age would quickly become habituated to each other. This same principles would also result in parents being less likely to be sexually attracted to their own children than to other children, though the effect would likely not be as strong for parents due to lack of imprinting.
Close relatives that aren't raised together during the first few years of life, but rather meet later in life, have a strong likelihood of being sexually attracted to each other. This is the phenomenon of GSA. Lack of early familiarity prevents reverse sexual imprinting from taking place. Additionally, the "similarity increases attraction" principle has a strong chance of playing a role in sexual attraction since close relatives are likely to have similar genes and, therefore, a greater likelihood of similarity.
I'll now list the coefficient of some common relationships:
The closer the relationship, the greater the chance of harmful mutations with reproduction. However, the risks might not be as high as most people think. For example, first cousin reproductions are only at a 1.7% to 2% higher risk for congenital defects and a 4.4% higher risk for their child dying before adulthood than the norms. (Paul & Spencer, 2008) In comparison, women who get pregnant after the age of 40 are at a more than 7 times higher risk of their child having chromosomal abnormalities and at a more than 3 times higher risk of having a miscarriage than are women who get pregnant in their early 20's. (Age and fertility, 2003)
The Eve Principle and Adam Principle bring up interesting issues. If femininity takes precedence over masculinity, it's interesting to note that the American language in androcentric (e.g. the word "he" takes precedence over "she". Furthermore, such principles are in stark contrast with the Holy Bible which states that Eve came from Adam, rather than the other way around.
So what is it that's added so that a human can develop into a male, rather than stay a female? The Y chromosome is a start. The Y chromosome contains the Sex-Determining Region Y (SRY) Gene which develops the fetal gonads into testes. From there, the testes start producing far more androgens compared to a female fetus. There is a critical period around this time. During this critical period, the fetal androgens help develop the rest of the fetal genitals to form a penis. Not only that, but the fetal androgens also affect the fetal brain, thereby masculinizing it. Having a masculinized brain simply means that the brain was significantly affected by androgens, whereas having a feminized brain simply means that the brain wasn't significantly affected by androgens. So you see, prenatal hormones not only affect the physical appearance of the individual, but the brain as well! This has important implications when it comes to gender identity and gendersexuality. You see, if an anatomical male has a feminized brain, he might have a personality more similar to females and therefore relate with females better, at least during early childhood. Likewise, if an anatomical female has a masculinized brain, she might have a personality more similar to males and therefore relate with males better, at least during early childhood. This personality can effect the child's gender identity due to which gender he/she conforms to better and it can effect the child's gendersexuality due to which gender seems most exotic (different).
We shouldn't make the mistake of coloring gender identity black and white, as people often do when it comes to gendersexuality. Just as people exist on a continuum in regards to sexuality, they exist on a continuum in regards to gender identity as well. Some individuals might feel like more than one gender, they might feel it evenly or they might lean on one side more than the other, and it might change based on the circumstances or just over time. Furthermore, some individuals might feel a lack of gender identity entirely. On another note, some some societies have more than 2 genders (for example, castrated males, masculine females, and transgenders are treated as entirely different genders in some places).
Gender identity probably develops largely by a combination of prenatal hormones and early socialization. What gender the child likes to socialize with most (which provides evidence of a masculinized or feminized brain), the child's physical appearance (whether the child looks masculine or feminine), and how the child is treated (e.g. being called "handsome" or "pretty") are variables that likely all play a significant role.
It should be considered that a lot of children play roles of the other gender. Boys will dress up in girl clothes and girls will play with boy toys. Sometimes kids will continue that behavior for many years, yet eventually grow out of it and end up cisgender. My only point is not to confuse behavior with thoughts and feelings. Gender role behavior isn't bound to gender identity, though they likely correlate.
Keep in mind that transgenderism doesn't necessarily lead to transvestism nor transsexualism. Similarly, transvestism doesn't necessarily prove transgenderism. (Transsexualism, however, is likely to correlate highly with transgenderism).
"As registered on your birth certificate and other documents, your sex denotes, on the basis of the anatomy between your legs, your civil status as either male or female. You are given no other option, for the dichotomy of male and female has long been accepted axiomatically as an eternal verity. Onto it has been grafted the cultural practice, universally taken for granted in our culture, of maximizing the differences, behavioral included, between the sexes, rather than maximizing the similarities." (Money, 1980, p. 133)
"We are heirs to a long history of a cultural fixation on sex divergency rather than sex sharing. This fixation has insidiously infected sexual science so as to ensure that its focus is on explaining sex differences, not sex similarity." (Money, 1988, p. 52)
Sometimes our body image doesn't match with what we actually look like. Sometimes people will get surgery for bigger breasts or a bigger penis, they'll get their body pierced or tattooed, or they'll wear specific clothes. Sometimes people have body image desires that they live contently without. Other times, people have compulsive body image desires that they feel they need to achieve in order to be happy. Transgenders just have an incongruent body image to do with their gender, and that might seem more extreme to some people, but it's really just a variation of a fundamental aspect of humanity.
What causes intersexuality? Generally, biological errors of femininity are due to an inclusion of something masculinizing and biological errors of masculinity are due to an exclusion of something masculinizing. Intersexuals don't have both male and female genitals as some people might imagine. Instead, they generally have a mixture of different male and female parts.
When it comes to intersexuality, it's important to consider the chromosomal sex, hormonal sex, gonadal sex, genital sex (internal and external), and neurological sex. In other words, does the child have XX, XY, or some other set of chromosomes? Are the child's hormones more similar to a male or female? Does the child have ovaries, testes, or some mixture of those gonads? What internal and external genital parts does the child have and is the child more likely to reproduce as a male or female? Has the child's brain been masculinized or feminized? By understanding these variables, it can be easier to understand the child's most likely gender.
It'd be exhaustive to try to list all the different ways intersexuality can occur, so I'm limiting this to a couple common examples.
The first example I'll discuss is androgen insensitivity syndrome (AIS). (Money, 1997, pp. 64-66) In AIS, the fetal body doesn't respond to androgens. The Y chromosome still sets the course so that the child will develop testes and the testes release mullerian inhibiting hormone (MIH) which inhibits the uterus and fallopian tubes from developing. However, masculinization ceases after that. The chromosomal sex, gonadal sex, and internal genitals will be masculine, but the hormonal sex, external genitals, and neurological sex will all be feminine. Even though menses won't occur and pregnancy won't be possible (nor would the ability to impregnate) the child is often considered more female than male despite having a Y chromosome. When it comes to gender identity, practically 100% of AIS individuals end up with a feminine gender identity. (Houk, Hughes, Ahmed, & Lee, 2006) When it comes to gendersexuality, AIS individuals are very similar to any other female. (Money, 1997, p. 65)
The second example I'll discuss is XX/congenital adrenal hyperplasia (XX/CAH). (Money, 1997, pp. 66-70) In XX/CAH, the fetal body produces an excess amount of androgens. Before the excess androgens start to take affect, the gonads have already differentiated into ovaries and the mullerian ducts have developed into the fallopian tubes, uterus, and cervix. After that, the external genitals become masculinized due to the androgens. The clitoris enlarges and, depending on the severity, might even develop into a penis. Also depending on the severity, the external labia might fuse to form an empty scrotum. If untreated after birth, puberty would be induced precociously and puberty would also be mostly masculinizing, with no breast development, no menses, nor the ability to get pregnant (the ability to impregnate would also not occur). Even though the external genitals and neurological sex are masculine, the gonadal sex and internal genitals are feminine. Furthermore, with treatment the hormonal sex can be feminine and the individual can still be capable of pregnancy. Because of that, despite having the external genital appearance of a male, and despite having a masculinized brain, the child is often considered more female than male. When it comes to gender identity, more than 90% of XX/CAH individuals end up with a feminine gender identity. (Houk, Hughes, Ahmed, & Lee, 2006) When it comes to gendersexuality, about 50% end up heterosexual, about 35% bisexual, and about 15% homosexual. (Money, 1997, p. 68)
How can you know how to best treat intersexuals, especially since there are so many different types and degrees of intersexuality? Diamond and Sigmundson (1997) recommend the following:
Some people might consider the possibility of simply letting intersexuals live as their own gender without trying to conform to male or female. It sounds nice, but there are problems with that concept. You see, it's hard to know where "male" or "female" ends/begins and where "intersex" ends/begins. It's not that you should force a child to be a certain gender, you simply label and rear a child as a certain gender. As the child gets older then he/she might or might not accept the gender he/she was reared as. If so, that's okay, and what to do about it can be decided from there.
I find it interesting how there are many religious people that are against same gender sexual relations, yet there are people that aren't even so sure what their gender is.
Notes: This isn't a complete list, but a concise one.
Notes: This isn't a complete list, but a concise one.
Notes: This isn't a complete list, but a concise one.
When it comes to humans, males and females are often treated more like different species than they are different genders. This is illustrated with the popular quote "men are from Mars, women are from Venus". For your consideration, we could try to be understanding of each other as individuals, rather than as genders. After all, we're a lot more similar than we are different. As David Myers put it, "Men and women are not from different planets - Mars and Venus - but from the same planet Earth. Tell me whether you are male or female and you give me virtually no clues to your vocabulary, your intelligence, your self-esteem, your happiness, or the mechanisms by which you see, hear, learn and remember." It's not so much my contention to try to refute any gender differences of sexuality as it is to figure out what degree of our gender differences are due to nature and what degree are explicable by nurture.
"In the human species, there is no way in which to ascertain what culture-free masculinity and femininity would be like, for they are always packaged in culture, just as linguistic ability is always packaged in native language." (Money, 1988, p. 54)
"Consider that all humans grow up in environments in which everyone believes that men typically are larger and stronger than women, and yet few of us would ascribe this sex difference entirely to tradition. But many of us would ascribe sex differences in desires entirely to tradition; and yet it has not been shown that desires (as opposed to behaviors) are "farther" from the genes than gross morphology is." (Symons, 1979, pp. 251-252)
"People often say to us, "But we're human beings. We can choose how to behave." That's true, to a certain extent, but our bodies rebel against decisions that go against our evolved nature. You can choose to wear shoes that are too small, but you can't choose to be comfortable in them. You can choose to wear a corset, but you may well pass out because you can't breathe properly.... The human body and mind have evolved for a certain kind of life. The further we diverge from that path, the greater the cost in terms of mental, emotional, and physical health. There's just no getting away from this." (Ryan & Jethá, 2010/2011, pp. About 7-8)
Any evolutionary theories which research traits that can be affected by society have a fundamental problem. They automatically entail explaining a premise in a natural way when it might be social (memes, not genes). This makes evolutionary psychology (aka sociobiology) heavily prone to confirmation bias. As Allgeier (1994) explained it, "It has been argued that sociobiologists pay scant attention to cultural evolution in their attempt to reduce complex social behavior to a genetic drama." (p. 564)
"Evolutionary psychology as it has been disseminated across mainstream consciousness is a cranky and despotic Cyclops, its single eye glaring through an overwhelmingly masculinist lens. I say masculinist rather than male because the view of male behavior promulgated by hardcore evolutionary psychologists is as narrow and inflexible as their view of womanhood is." (Angier, 1999/2000, p. 355)
"Hardcore evolutionary psychology types go to extremes to promote their theses, and to argue in favor of the yawning chasm that separates the innate desires of women and men. They declare ringing confirmation for their theories even in the face of feeble data. They suffer amusing internal contradictions of their data. They pick and choose, one from column A, one from column B, and good food, good meat, holy Darwin, let's eat!" (Angier, 1999/2000, p. 357)
"They have a wild propensity to twist facts to fit their theories, and people who question the process are dismissed as fundamentalist quacks."
- Paul Joannides
An aspect a lot of evolutionary psychologists seem to miss out on is: variation. As Angier (1999/2000) put it, "Variation and flexibility are the key themes that get set aside in the breathless dissemination of evolutionary psychology." (p. 379) Some people are tall, some people are short. Some people are hyper, some people are calm. Some people seem to have a wild sex drive while others seem to have a mild sex drive. Evolutionary psychologists often look at one trait, ignore variations of it, and try to explain why that one trait is the most evolutionarily advantageous and has survived its way through the millennia. However, maybe what can be the most evolutionary advantageous is to have a lot of variation amongst a species. Individuals can have many differences amongst each other, and all such differences can have their own advantages and disadvantages, but as long as those traits survived, then perhaps they were okay for the circumstances, and so they live on, and the variations persist.
One possible reason males are generally less sociable than females is due to conditioning. Society sees it as okay for girls to have close relationships with other girls, but many people get uncomfortable if boys seem too close to each other and they might be shamed for it (e.g. fags). Regardless of the reasons for this gender difference, the greater sociability of females might make them more prone to social desirability bias. In addition to this, society shames females more than males for their sexuality (though society guilts males more than females for their sexuality). This might incline females more than males to lie about relatively normal aspects of sexuality.
Alexander and Fisher (2003) had 201 participants, 96 males and 105 females, and they administered surveys to them individually under 3 different conditions. 1 group was called the "bogus pipeline", and they were attached to a fake lie detector and were convinced it could detect lies even in written responses. Another group was "anonymous" and they could fill out the survey without fear of anyone seeing their answers. The last group was called "exposure threat" and they were told a college peer might view their responses to their survey after they were finished. The results? Females are more likely to lie about their sexuality than males are. This was most noticeable when it came to autonomous sexual behaviors (such as masturbation and viewing pornography) and their number of sexual partners. The numbers were higher in females for both categories when hooked to a fake lie detector, the numbers dropped when anonymous, and they were lowest when they thought a peer might view their responses. This is the social desirability bias in effect.
If females are similar to males in their initiation of violence and their frequency of using violence, why are males so much lower in their lifetime incidence of having experienced IPV? One possibility is that females remember incidents of IPV better than males long-term and/or males forget incidents of IPV more easily than females long-term. While it's implausible for gender differences in memory to account for this discrepancy, it could be that the memes of society suggest that males are more violent than females, and this might incline females to remember their victimization more and males to forget their victimization more. Another possibility is that males have more variance than females in regards to their quantity of lifetime relationships (Schmitt, 2012), and variance in exposure to relationships could also affect exposure to violence within relationships. If this were the case, it should be found that males vary more in the frequency in which they experience IPV (a male with 1 relationship in his life would be less likely to have experienced as much IPV as a male that's had 9 relationships in his life). There's some evidence to support that possibility. (Mirrlees-Black, 1999)
If females are similar to males in their initiation of violence and their frequency of using violence, why are females significantly more likely than males to be injured by IPV? It's likely either that males are more likely than females to hit relatively harder and/or that females are more easily injured from a hit of relatively equal severity than males.
The lifetime prevalence of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner based on both gender and sexual orientation is:
Bisexuals are the most likely to experience IPV for each gender respectively. One possible explanation for this is that bisexuals generally have a higher quantity of relationships in their lifetime than heterosexuals and homosexuals, and so experience more IPV simply through having more exposure. Some data suggests this to be quite possible considering that bisexuals seem quicker to get into relationships than heterosexuals and homosexuals (Stroud & Stroud, 2014a), but the data is still lacking to be too confident about this. Another possible explanation is that there's the meme that bisexuals are more likely to cheat than heterosexuals and homosexuals are. Considering that suspicion of infidelity is the #1 cause of IPV (Ellis, 1989, p. 66), this meme would put bisexuals at a higher risk for IPV.
The data suggest that males are victims of violence more than females and that stranger violence towards males comes most commonly from other males. What would be the cause of this? One possibility is that females are more cautious being around strangers (especially at night and in secluded areas) and so are simply less available as victims than males. Another possibility is that males more than females are required to work to survive, and so they might more readily turn to crime (with violence often going hand-in-hand) to increase their ability to survive and/or to increase their socioeconomic status. Yet another possibility is that males are often praised if they get in fights (e.g. macho), and so are conditioned to be aggressive/violent. Still another possibility is that males are more stressed, specifically sexually frustrated, than females, and they aggress other males both to alleviate stress and as a form of sexual competition to increase their chances of getting sex. There's some evidence for the latter based on anecdotes from employees that work both straight and gay night clubs (though more stringent research is warranted). It's said that male-on-male violence is much more common in straight night clubs than in gay night clubs. This is on point since gay males are more likely than straight males to get their sexual needs met and so there's both less sexual frustration and less sexual competition.
One explanation for why females are more likely to attempt suicide yet much less likely to complete suicide is that they're more sociable than males. The attempts at suicide are possibly more likely to be a "cry for help", they often have a wider support of friends and/or closer friendships that help them with their troubles. Furthermore, they quite possibly know that they'll get help from their suicide attempt. In contrast, when a male attempts suicide, he's less confident he'll get any help, and so their intention with suicide is more genuine.
This brings us to the next consideration, why do males want to commit suicide so much more than females? One explanation is that males more than females are required to work to survive, and so if work conditions are unsatisfying, this will incline males more than females to suicide. Another explanation is that males are more likely to be sexually deprived than females (Schmitt, 2012; Terman, 1938, p. 290), and this can cause constant stress which inclines males more than females to suicide.
Females might be more greatly inhibited from impulsivity by conformity-type emotions (shame, embarrassment, etcetera). Not only are they often shamed more strongly for the same behaviors as males (e.g. sexuality) but they might also be more likely to actually feel the negative conformity-type emotions since they're more likely to be sociable.
Thoughts and feelings are very difficult to measure. Such measurements generally rely on self reports, yet it's difficult to get an accurate assessment of thoughts and feelings through self reports alone. Simply put, people lie or make mistakes. Fortunately, there's a way around this social desirability bias. By looking at dream data, we can get a potentially more accurate reflection about the sexual thoughts of males and females. One of the most fundamental principles of dreams is that there's continuity between waking life thoughts and what we dream about (Domhoff, 2008). Furthermore, people generally feel less free will over their dreams and, therefore, less shame and guilt due to their dreams compared to their waking life thoughts, feelings, and behavior. This means that dream data is likely to be more honest than self reports.
So what does the dream data show? Well, there are mixed results. The original dream data by Hall (1966) found that 12% of male dreams and 4% of female dreams had sexual content. Newer research (Zadra, 2007), has found that 8% of male dreams and 8% of female dreams had sexual content. Even though Zadra found an equal percentage of sexual dreams amongst men and women, the content differed. Men were more likely than women to dream of having sex with strangers and multiple partners. I think the data's lacking thus far to make any confident conclusions from such research.
Many people look at nonhuman animals and see that in the majority of nonhuman animals, the males are the sexual initiators. The thinking is that, because it's true for most nonhuman animals, it must be true and natural for humans too. What most people fail to notice is that in most nonhuman animals, males are also the sexual advertisers, and yet, the reverse is true for humans. In most species, the male will decorate his fur, color himself, etcetera, to sexually advertise to the female in hopes that she'll copulate with him. When it comes to humans, females are the ones more likely to sexually advertise themselves, by dressing up, wearing cosmetics, etcetera.
"There can be no doubt that in our society the equivalent of the peacock's tail is exhibited by the female, not by the male." (Dawkins, 2006, p. 164)
With the consideration that masturbation experience and frequency is generally a good indicator of sex drive strength, it's my contention to speculate on the reason for any gender differences in this regard. It's a popular meme, both in mainstream American society as well as in research literature, that males are hornier than females. Based on my own meta-analysis (Stroud, 2014c), the data does indeed show that adult males are more likely to have masturbation experience than adult females and that adult males masturbate more frequently than adult females as well. However, there's conflict with this "males are hornier than females" meme in that the research also shows that females are more likely to masturbate than males as young children.
Why is this? One explanation is based on physiology. It's thought that it might be easier for a female to "accidentally" rub her genitals to orgasm than it is for a male to "accidentally" rub his genitals to orgasm, based simply on the differences in anatomy between the 2.
Why are males more likely to masturbate than females only once they near pubertal development? While it's easy to blame it on biology, consider that the research shows that males are less likely to figure out how to masturbate by themselves, and more likely to learn how to masturbate from others and media. For females, research shows the opposite to be true. If biology caused males to be hornier, you'd think the sex drive of males would cause them to figure out how to masturbate by themselves, right? Keep in mind that more than just "raging hormones" occur around the time of puberty, people also start to become more socially and intellectually developed. (Ohio v. Akron, 1990)
"It may be stated now that nearly all boys have heard about masturbation before they attempt it themselves." (Kinsey et al., 1948, p. 501)
"The female more often discovers masturbation independently and without any previous knowledge that any other person has ever been involved in similar activity." (Kinsey et al., 1948, p. 501)
"Since we found a sudden upsurge of sexual responsiveness and overt sexual activity among human males at the beginning of adolescence, there may seem to be some correlation with the androgen picture; but the upsurge of sexual responsiveness in the male is much more abrupt than the steady rise in the level of his androgens. As for the female, there seems to be no correlation at all between the levels of her androgens and her slow and gradual development of sexual responsiveness and overt sexual activity. Although she has nearly as much androgenic hormone as the male in her pre-adolescent and early adolescent years, her levels of sexual response and overt sexual activity at that period are much lower than the levels in the average male. The near identity of the androgen levels in the female and male at the very age at which the two sexes develop strikingly different patterns of behavior, makes it very doubtful whether there is any simple and direct relationship between androgens and patterns of pre-adolescent and adolescent sexual behavior in either sex." (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 730-731)
With the thought of socialization in mind, why are males discussing masturbation amongst each other more frequently than females are? One explanation is that the male sex drive becomes stronger at this point in life which would incline them to talk about sexuality more frequently. Another explanation is that sexual discussion and behavior is simply more taboo and scorned amongst females and so they're more inhibited by conformity-inclining emotions than males are. Yet another explanation is that anatomy inclines sexual discussions to be more genital-based amongst males. To make this point more clear, the male genitals generally bulge whereas the female genitals generally don't. On a related note, the female chest generally bulges much more than the male chest. To put this in perspective: anatomically, the penis and vulva are equivalent, but socially, the penis and breasts are equivalent.
Whatever the reason for less discussion of masturbation amongst females, the lack of masturbation might only make things more difficult due to the "use it or lose it" principle. It's been extensively demonstrated that many aspects of the body weaken in function or ability if they're not used. Furthermore, some parts of the brain even have a critical period, so that if it's not stimulated within a certain "window of opportunity" then it might deteriorate and permanently lose function. This means that if an individual doesn't achieve orgasm within a critical period, that individual might have a weakened ability to achieve orgasms for the rest of his/her life. However, this is merely hypothesized.
"I have concluded that there is also a critical period—or actually there are two critical periods—with respect to developing orgasmic responsiveness. One of these is early childhood, the other occurs during adolescence." (Ellison, 2000, p. 36)
To supplement all these considerations, anecdotes of females who take androgens and males who take anti-androgens, often claim what you'd expect to hear. Females will often say that their sex drive increases, while males will often say that their sex drive decreases. This puts more support on biological explanations.
In all likelihood, there are probably multiple factors, both of nature and of nurture, that account for these sex drive and masturbation differences amongst males and females.
"Masturbation is our primary sex life. It is the sexual base. Everything we do beyond that is simply how we choose to socialize our sex life."
- Betty Dodson
"Millions of boys have lived in continual mental conflict over this problem. For that matter, many a boy still does. Many boys pass through a periodic succession of attempts to stop the habit, inevitable failures in those attempts, consequent periods of remorse, the making of new resolutions - and a new start on the whole cycle. It is difficult to imagine anything better calculated to do permanent damage to the personality of an individual." (Kinsey et al., 1948, pp. 513-514) (The same could of course apply to females, but this quote came from a book Kinsey et al. wrote focusing on males.)
"We have recognized exceedingly few cases, if indeed there have been any outside of a few psychotics, in which either physical or mental damage had resulted from masturbatory activity. We have, on the other hand, recognized a tremendous amount of damage which has been the result of worry over masturbation, and of attempts to abstain from such activity." (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 167-168)
"When no guilt, anxieties, or fears are involved, the physical satisfactions which may be found in any type of sexual activity, whether socio-sexual or solitary, should leave an individual well adjusted psychologically. But in view of the more than two thousand years of religious condemnation of masturbation, fortified by the ostensibly scientific opinions of physicians and other professionally trained groups, it is not surprising that many individuals, both female and male, are considerably disturbed when they masturbate." (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 169-170)
"Don't knock masturbation, it's sex with someone I love."
- Woody Allen
You don't have the aspect of connecting with another person when you masturbate, but you do have the aspect of connecting with yourself.
As the data shows, homosexual females have the lowest frequency of sex, then heterosexuals, then homosexual males. Homosexual females are also the least likely to have extramarital sex, then heterosexuals, then homosexual males. Lastly, homosexual males are much more likely to have a high number of sex partners than homosexual females are. (Stroud, 2014x)
"If men today appear to be more interested in all manners of sexual stimuli than women are, if they are the major consumers of pornography and prostitution, and if they say in surveys they'd like to dabble around with as many gals as will approach them on the street with a clipboard in hand, we gals can only reply, It's a man's world, designed for the pleasures of men." (Angier, 1999/2000, p. 372)
The results could be explained by saying that females naturally have a lower sex drive than males. However, another possibility is that females are conditioned to have a lower sex drive than males. On the one hand, females have a much higher chance of being slut-shamed for their sexual behavior than males do. On the other hand, hypothetically, slut-shaming should be less frequent amongst homosexual females, and yet, homosexual females not only have a lower quantity of sex partners, but lower frequencies of sex even within relationships too. If females truly are conditioned to have a lower sex drive, it seems likely that it must be imprinted during a critical period.
1% of husbands and 9.6% of wives very frequently or frequently decline their partner sex, 8.2% of husbands and 27.9% of wives sometimes decline their partner sex but not frequently, 30% of husbands and 41.8% of wives only rarely decline their partner sex, and 60.7% of husbands and 20.7% of wives never decline their partner sex. (Terman, 1938, p. 290)
"Among the sex factors investigated are two that not only correlate markedly with happiness scores but are in all probability genuine determiners of them: viz., the wife's orgasm adequacy and the husband-wife difference in strength of sex drive." (Terman, 1938, p. 374)
"Equality or near equality in sex drive is an important factor in happiness. As the disparity in drive increases to the point where one spouse is in a more or less chronic state of sex hunger and the other in a state of satiety, the happiness scores of both drop off significantly." (Terman, 1938, p. 374)
Common memes, both in society in general as well as in the research literature, suggest that female sexuality is more specialized than male sexuality. It's made to sound as if nature made male sexuality simple and female sexuality complex. Some of these concepts include:
When people say males are more easily sexually aroused by visual stimuli, consider that visual stimulation just so happens to be the first stimulus. To say that a female is more sexually aroused by tactile stimulation than males, you should consider that tactile stimulation generally occurs in combination with other sexually arousing variables (visual, auditory, emotion, etcetera), which means the female now has at least 2 sexually arousing variables working for her instead of just 1 (because visual stimuli more often stands alone). A similar case is made in regards to saying females are more sexually aroused by emotional content/context than males. Consider that a lot of males will report being highly sexually aroused by stimuli that's nonvisual too, and without other variables in combination with them: phone sex, cyber sex/sexting, and even touch by itself (such as from a partner in the dark of the night or from a gloryhole). It might not be that males are more sexually aroused by visual stimulation than females, it might be that males are sexually aroused by anything and everything more than females, and that females require a higher combination of variables to experience the same degree of sexual arousal or for sex or masturbation to feel needed or to be satisfying.
Not only are females less likely to orgasm during sex but they're also less likely to feel the need to orgasm during sex or to feel stressed if they don't orgasm during sex. (Stroud, 2014d; Stroud & Stroud, 2014b) A general reality is that the more intensely a drive or emotion is experienced, the more likely there's to be a behavior/outlet for it. Mild sadness might do nothing, but extreme sadness is likely to result in crying (the outlet). Mild anger might do nothing, but extreme anger is likely to result in shouting, breaking stuff, or violence (outlets). If someone experiences extreme sadness and doesn't cry, or extreme anger and doesn't shout, they tend to feel nervously disturbed for a while. Considering that more females than males aren't stressed/don't feel a need for orgasm (the outlet) suggests that they simply don't experience their sex drive/sexual arousal as intensely. A rebuttal to this is to say that penile-vaginal sex doesn't directly stimulate the head of the genitals of females but it does for males, thereby not causing as intense of sexual arousal simply due to the physiological mechanics of sex. However, anecdote suggests that even homosexual males who strictly bottom (engulf/receive during penile-anal sex) are still highly likely to orgasm (though more stringent research is warranted) even though their penis (nor the head of their genitals by logical extension) isn't being directly stimulated. Either their partner stimulates them by hand and/or they stimulate themselves by hand to orgasm. It seems to be less commonly the case for females to function this way.
"Most males, particularly younger males, may be nervously disturbed unless they can regularly carry their responses through to the point of orgasm. Most females are not seriously disturbed if they do not have a regular sexual outlet, although some of them may be as disturbed as most males are without a regular outlet." (Kinsey et al., 1953, p. 682)
Females don't just want/have less casual sex than males, they also want/have less sex within relationships than males (despite there being a greater likelihood of emotions and attachment/commitment within relationships). (Bell & Weinberg, 1978, pp. 69-72, 85, 93, 100, 162-163, 166-167, 298, 308-312, 382-384; Blumstein & Schwartz, 1983, pp. 196, 273; Jay & Young, 1979, pp. 161, 324; Petersen et al., 1983, May, pp. 215-216; Terman, 1938, p. 290) If females were simply "picky", they should still want as much sex as males once they've picked their partner. It might not be that they're pickier in choosing a partner, it might be that they're simply less motivated to choose a partner.
It's generally the case that a stronger sensation or feeling is more noticeable than a weaker one. For example, as you go about your day, the sensation of your clothes touching your body gets screened out and you won't notice it, but if someone comes up behind you and touches you on the shoulder, you'll likely notice it. More than just a meme, research does seem to indicate that females are more sexually fluid than males. (Diamond, 2008) However, it might not be that a female's sexual orientation changes more easily or more often than a male's, it might just be that females either think about their sexuality less and/or feel their sexual attractions less intensely than males, thereby noticing certain attractions more slowly than males thusly making it seem like they're more fluid when in actuality the attractions were always there.
Considering all these points, it seems less likely that female sexuality is a difference of type from male sexuality and more likely that it's just a difference of extremes. In other words, all these specializations of female sexuality could simply be a function of having a lower sex drive. Finally, keep in mind that males suffer more stranger violence from other males than females do (Cooper & Smith, 2011; Harrell, 2012; NCVS, 2011; Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000) and that males are about 4 times more likely to suicide than females (WHO, 2012). It's plausible that the discrepancy between male and female sex drives could contribute to this. On a side note, homosexual males commit the least amount of violence of all gender and sexual orientation combinations, while they have by far the most sex (Walters, Chen, & Breiding, 2013; Stroud, 2014) (see section Aggression), and bonobos are arguably the most peaceful species of mammal in existence, and both the males and females generally have sex several times a day and with a high quantity of partners in their life.
While males are, in all likelihood, more prone to certain types of sexual deviance (e.g. rape), there are many other types that are more difficult to be confident about and the answer's perhaps not as obvious as most people think. I'll simply try to provide some food for thought. Keep in mind that this is a difficult topic to analyze on account of 1) there's such a variety of sexual deviance, 2) male and female sexuality are often treated very differently by society, and 3) sexuality, in general, is shrouded in secrecy.
"If a man watches a woman undressing before a window, he can be arrested as a Peeping Tom. If a woman watches a man undressing before a window, the man can be arrested for indecent exposure... The Mrs. Robinsons are given points for initiating inexperienced males, while the Humbert Humberts are ostracized as dirty old men." (Strainchamps, 1971/1972, p 360)
"It has long been an article of both popular and professional belief that women, including lesbians, are less prone to paraphilias than are their male counterparts. The evidence quoted in the media, popular and professional, is obtained from criminal and clinical statistics. These statistics may, however, be warped by the sexological platitude, still extant in our culture, that women are sexually inert or anerotic as compared with men. For example, a women who sleeps in the same bed as her nearly pubertal son or daughter is not at much risk of being charged with sexual child abuse, whereas the father who does the same with either a daughter or a son would, if reported to the sexual child abuse squad of the police department, be instantly charged with incest and pedophilia. On the basis of the faulty victimological dogma that children never lie about sex, he would then be considered guilty until proven innocent." (Money, 1986, p. 155)
"Attitudes supporting the view that women who perpetrate sexual abuse are rare are inaccurate and may limit the recognition of female sexual abuse. Such attitudes ensure that ignorance about female sexual abuse will continue to prevail, leaving victims undetected and ultimately unprotected." (Logan, 2008, p. 493)
"It was time to gather at a big table where we were asked to introduce ourselves. One after another, the women identified themselves and their abusers. "Hello, my name is Carol and my perpetrator was my uncle," a young women said, softly. "My name is Roxanne and my father molested me," offered a middle-aged survivor. "I'm Tina. My older brother abused me," volunteered another. And so it went. Then it was my turn. "My name is Julie," I said. "I was sexually abused by my mother." You could have heard the proverbial pin drop. The warm smiles vanished. Women squirmed in their seats. Their once-sympathetic gazes shifted to the floor and the ceiling. Where had the empathy gone? What had I done or said? In those few awkward moments my mind raced for an answer. I'd revealed as did the others, but what was the difference? Oh, no! My abuser was the wrong sex!" (Brand, 2006, pp. 7-8)
"I tried to tell my therapist, when I was 35. She told me that I was having fantasies about my mother and that I needed more therapy to deal with it. In reality my mother had physically and sexually abused me for as long as I could remember. The abuse was horrific, including beatings and sadomasochistic sex. It took a lot of courage for me to tell. When she [the therapist] didn't respond, I quit therapy and spent the next 15 years in hell." (anonymous male, as quoted in Elliott, 1993/1994, p. 8)
A lot of self-proclaimed feminists, and many females in general, want to be recognized as sexual beings, that they can be just as sexual or even more sexual than males. However, this view might be a double edged sword. The more females are recognized as sexual, the more they might also be recognized as sexual abusers. While this might seem negative for their image, ultimately it will probably be helpful in recognizing cases of sexual abuse more easily.
Many men feel like women are prostitutes no matter what. Either you can directly give money to a woman to have sex with you, or you feel obligated to take her out on a date before she'll have sex with you, either way you pay. For this reason, it can jokingly be said that they call them "fe"male for a reason, because you have to pay a "fee". On the flip side, many women feel economically dependent on a man. If a man takes her out on a date and spends a lot of money on her, she might feel obligated to have sex with him. Another example is if the woman is married and the husband provides her with food, shelter, and other essentials or niceties, she might feel as though she owes him sex. However, times are changing, and these socioeconomic issues aren't as severe as they used to be.
"For many women marriage is one of the few forms of employment that is readily available."
- Redstockings, from the 1970's
"If you marry for money, you will surely earn it."
- Ezra Bowen
Money isn't the only issue, time is as well. Courting a female often costs a lot in time, even if it costs little to nothing in money. Whereas the money spent on paying for sex can be made up for in the time saved.
"The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less."
- Brendan Behan
Why do males have nipples? What's the purpose of female ejaculation? The answer to both of these questions is that, because one gender has it the other receives it as a byproduct. However, female orgasm often falls under this category due to misunderstanding.
It's said that the female orgasm is not necessary for reproduction, and so the question is what evolutionary purpose it serves. However, it could also be asked, "what's the purpose of the male orgasm?". Many people seem to regard male orgasm and male ejaculation as one and the same thing, but they're not! They're separate processes. Ejaculation occurs as a reflex response, similar to sneezing. Just because a male can be observed ejaculating, that doesn't say much about what he's feeling. He might experience a wild orgasm, a mild orgasm, or no orgasm at all when he ejaculates. Some people might try to claim that even if a male could ejaculate without orgasming, he'd not care to have sex if he couldn't have orgasms. However, there are plenty of people who have never orgasmed, or who have lost the ability to orgasm, yet they still desire plenty of sex. So even without orgasms, we'd still want to have sex, but I also think that orgasms add to the enjoyment of sex. And so, orgasms can provide extra motive to bring us closer, or something to look forward to from sex, and that can serve purpose not just for males, but for females as well.
Females have a lot more variance than males between periods of high frequencies of orgasm and little to no orgasms in their lives. (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 681-682)
Males are more likely to have the most orgasms during adolescence and their amount of orgasms then decline gradually with age, whereas females are more likely to have a relatively stable amount of orgasms through out their life span. (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 714-715)
Females are more likely to have nocturnal orgasms in late adulthood while males are more likely to have nocturnal orgasms during adolescence. (Kinsey et al., 1953, pp. 201-201)
Sexual phrases often carry negative implications, which perpetuates shame and guilt associated with sexuality. Perhaps it'd be beneficial to the sexual well-being of people to use less sexual phrases with negative implications and more sexual phrases with neutral or positive implications.
Notes: This isn't a complete list, but a concise one.
Virginity is arbitrary. Some individuals define virginity as never having experienced an orgasm, some individuals define virginity only as never having experienced penile-vaginal sex, and there's many other various definitions. Also consider that "losing" your virginity says nothing about the significance of the event to an individual. For example, many societies mark the breaking point of virginity at penile-vaginal sex because they consider that the peak of sexual satisfaction, but it should be considered that not everyone feels the same. For example, some people get more sexual satisfaction from rubbing their genitals against a partner's feet than they do with genital-genital sex.
It's widely recognized that you're doubtful to be good at most sports the first time you play. Instead, it takes a lot of practice until you get good at something. This general reality in athletics is popularly compared to sex, which is to say that the first time you have sex probably won't be great but you'll get better the more you do it. While this concept seems logical, I don't think it's too analogous. Unlike most sports, sex has no specific rules.
The first time having sex isn't always the best nor is it always the worst. It's just that many people who've never had sex before seem to have a delusional concept of sex as something akin to angels singing and magic butterflies filling the room. Sex can be fun and satisfying, but try to be realistic about it.
If you concentrate too much on the performance of sex, you miss out on the fun of sex. Anxiety can also incline sexual functioning problems for many people.
"Good sex is not goal orientated, good sex is pleasure orientated."
- Nina Hartley
What reasons do people have for faking orgasm? 1) They might want to stop having sex or 2) they might feel expected to orgasm. Communication is key to get rid of these pressures that most often occur in the context of female-male sex. It might help to ask/tell you partner what it'd take to orgasm or if you don't feel like you want/need to orgasm. On a side note, it's probably not as rare as you might think for males to fake orgasm. If he wears a condom he can hide the lack of evidence more easily. Furthermore, even without a condom, males can lie, saying that they masturbated earlier and have run low on ejaculation, or that they're on drugs that prevent them from ejaculating.
People are sexually attracted to different things and they respond to physical stimulation differently. Just because you know how to have great sex with 1 person, doesn't mean you know how to have great sex with every person. With that being said, there's usually some carryover, and there's often actions you might pick up from 1 person that you might then try on another.
Females are more likely than males to have extreme difficulty or an inability to orgasm through sex. Males are more likely than females to experience multiple orgasms during or before adolescents, but females are more likely than males to experience multiple orgasms in adulthood. Orgasms are self-reported as having more importance to males than to females. (Stroud, 2014d)
It's somewhat of a myth that masturbation conditions individuals so that they will have difficulty orgasming during sex. If that were the case, consider that many females masturbate by hand for years before they ever try masturbating with a vibrator. If they masturbated for so long by hand, and if such practices conditioned them, then it should be difficult to orgasm by a vibrator. However, that's not the case. Even after spending years masturbating by hand, females often orgasm very easily the first time they use a vibrator. Masturbating can actually help some people orgasm during sex, for the better they know how they respond sexually, the better they can apply it to sex. On the other hand, some individuals do report that after developing a particular method of masturbating and being limited to that method for a long period of time, they then have difficulty orgasming through other methods.
People vary in the way they experience multiple orgasms. Some people find that each consecutive orgasm they have becomes increasingly powerful, granted that they occur within a short time period and that the stimulation provided is comparable or even better than the previous. Others find that the first orgasm is the most powerful, and each orgasm there after gets weaker.
Some individuals experience different types of orgasms, that is, not just different in intensity, but a different feeling altogether. In contrast, there are many individuals that are able to experience orgasm through different forms of stimulation, yet they still experience orgasm as fundamentally the same sort of feeling (e.g. orgasming through nipple play, yet still feeling the orgasm primarily in the genitals). Types of orgasms reported include penile orgasm, clitoral orgasm, vaginal orgasm, anal orgasm, nipple orgasm, and emotional orgasm. Some individuals also report blended orgasms which occur as a result of more than one area being stimulated to orgasm at the same time (most commonly vaginal and clitoral). People are especially prone to achieving orgasm in different/unique places following genital damage. On a related note, there's a difference between having "vaginal orgasms" and having orgasms through vaginal sex.
Both males and females can ejaculate, but not everyone is capable of it. Furthermore, there are no reports of prepubescent females ejaculating. (Ladas, Whipple, & Perry, 1982/2005, p. 81) Therefore, it seems the ability to produce cum develops through puberty for females just as it does for males. For reproductive aged males, it's rare for them to not ejaculate when they orgasm, and if they don't then it's likely due to a hormonal abnormality or a blockage of the urethra. When it comes to reproductive aged females, it's typical for them to not ejaculate when they orgasm, however, they might injaculate without even realizing it. There was an interesting study that tested the bladder of women for prostate specific antigen before and after orgasm. 75% of the women who did not ejaculate had higher levels of prostate specific antigen in their bladder after orgasm compared to before. The study suggests that a lot of females who aren't ejaculating are actually injaculating. (Cabello, 1997)
Prostate stimulation might also play a big role for females to ejaculate. The female prostate is generally close to the urethral opening. The prostate is often very small, especially when unstimulated, so it might be difficult to find. It might also be hard to notice any sensations from it, for people vary in their sensitivity to prostate stimulation. However, if you spend some time stimulating the prostate, it tends to swell up and might become more noticeable. Once the prostate has been stimulated, ejaculation is more likely to occur. However, since the prostate is near the urethra, putting pressure on the prostate has the potential to put pressure on and block the urethra as well, thereby preventing ejaculation. Therefore, stimulation can be stopped right as orgasm is about to occur to prevent blockage. Furthermore, contracting your pelvic muscles during orgasm can help expel the ejaculation. When it comes to males, practically all of this information also applies, except that the prostate is located in a different location for males. It's generally about 2 inches inside the front portion of the anus, towards the genitals.
Now, what about the taste? It depends on the person producing it and the person consuming it. Different people will produce different tasting cum and different people enjoy different tastes. The taste of cum can be affected by diet. I'm not aware of any scientific studies that have tested the impact of different diets and the taste of cum. Therefore, my research was composed of by gathering bits of information together from a wide variety of sources. Males are probably more prone towards bitter tasting cum than females are. That's because sperm itself is going to be bitter tasting, and females don't have sperm in their cum. However, sperm only composes about 1% of cum, so it's impact can be minimal if the rest of the cum is sweet. Many psychoactive substances are said to make cum bitter which includes cigarettes, marijuana, alcohol, and coffee. Also, meat, dairy, and any foods high in salt can make cum bitter as well. Things that can make cum sweeter includes lots of water, fruits, and probably carbohydrates in general. Of the fruits said to make cum sweeter, pineapple is widely stated. Foods with high sulfur content are said to make cum bitter while foods high in chlorophyll content are said to make cum sweeter. However, many foods are simultaneously high in both sulfur and chlorophyll. Infections can also affect the taste of cum. Lastly, being diabetic can result in sweet tasting cum.
Orgasm and ejaculation generally occur together for males (and for some females too), but even when they do, they can occur in different sequence. Some people experience ejaculation before orgasm, others experience orgasm then ejaculation, and still others experience orgasm and ejaculation synchronously. It can also vary in the same individual from time to time.
Both males and females get erections, the female erection simply might not be as noticeable as the male erection and it's also not deemed as important as the male erection is for sexual activity. Erections can occur spontaneously, but they usually occur due to sexual arousal and/or physical stimulation. It's also natural for erections to occur while sleeping and it can be a sign of sexual dysfunction if they don't occur during sleep.
The vaginal glands and cervical glands lubricate the vagina. The Bartholin glands produce precum in females and the Cowper's glands produce precum in males. It should also be noted that the genitals can produce a small amount of sweat during sexual activity which can serve lubricating purposes. Prepubescent children also have genitals capable of lubricating, though the quantity of lubrication generally increases upon reaching puberty.
Not everyone produces precum, and those that do can vary a great degree in the amount they produce. For males, sperm isn't produced by the Cowper's glands, instead the lubricant produced by the Cowper's glands simply has the potential to pick up sperm as it travels through the urethra. This means that it's possible to become pregnant through precum.
Now, what about the taste? The taste of lubricant depends on the person producing it and the person consuming it. Different people will produce different tasting lubricant and different people enjoy different tastes. I'm not aware of any scientific studies that have tested the impact of different diets and the taste of lubricant. I already discussed the taste of cum, and much of what I said there applies here. However, hormones might play a bigger role for females when it comes to lubricant than it does for cum. The taste of the lubricant can change a fair amount depending on where the female is at in her menstrual cycle. As far as I can tell from various sources, lubricant is less likely to be affected by diet than cum is, it's also less likely to be bitter since it lacks sperm, and it's also less likely to have any distinct taste to it than cum is.
Interestingly, if a female contracts her pelvic muscles, it can sometimes increase her lubrication. (Ladas, Whipple, & Perry, 1982/2005, pp. 100-101) There are also products for females, such as Estrace, Estring, Premarin, and Vagifem that can increase the natural lubrication produced by the genitals. Aside from natural lubricants, there are also plenty of synthetic lubricants which can be used as well.
The genitals (especially the glans penis and clitoris), nipples, and anus are naturally prone to produce a heightened sexual response due to their sex corpuscles. (Winkelmann, 1959; Duthie & Gairns, 1960) In addition, the perianal skin, the lips of the mouth, and the conjuctiva are hypersensitive to physical stimulation due to their innervation and so can possibly be more responsive or more easily conditioned in sexual contexts. (Winkelmann, 1959; Duthie & Gairns, 1960) Aside from that, areas of the body that produce a heightened sexual response are highly individual. Just because an area of the body isn't hypersensitive that doesn't mean it can't also become an area of sexual significance to an individual. Conversely, just because an area of the body is hypersensitive that doesn't mean it's going to produce a heightened sexual response to an individual.
Mechanoreceptors are sensory receptors of the body. There are many different kinds that detect different types of stimuli (for example, rapid vibrations, fine touch, deep pressure, etcetera). There are unique mechanoreceptors of the glans penis and clitoris which are also found in the nipples and the anus. (Winkelmann, 1959; Duthie & Gairns, 1960) This provides evidence that the nipples and anus are naturally programmed to provide sexual feelings as the genitals are. So aside from the genitals, nipples, and anus, all other areas of the body are probably highly individual in regards to producing a heightened sexual response. Some areas might be more responsive or more easily conditioned due to their hypersensitivity, but it's still likely to be highly individual nonetheless. I quote Kinsey (1948) who said, "For different individuals, the erotic responsiveness of different areas may vary, depending in part on the psychological conditioning of the individual as a result of his previous experiences, but probably as often depending on differences in the innervation of the same area in different individuals." (p. 573)
There are different ways you can test to see if you're properly contracting the pelvic muscles. You can do the finger test, in which you insert a finger into your vagina or anus and squeeze against the finger with your vaginal or anal walls. If you're doing it with your anus, it shouldn't be your glutes squeezing against your finger, try to relax your glutes and see if you can squeeze your finger solely with the inside of your anus. Another option is to just press your finger against your perineum and feel the contractions in this area as you do this exercise. There's also the urine test. When urinating, see if you can stop the flow of your urine simply by contracting your pelvic muscles. There's also the penis test for males. When you have an erection, see if you can make it move upwards simply by contracting your pelvic muscles. This might also be possible while semierect or even flaccid, but it'd probably be less noticeable.
Some people with weak PC muscles might not be able to stop their flow of urine by contracting their pelvic muscles. Many of these individuals have urinary stress incontinence, and the main reason they have such a condition is largely because of their weak pelvic muscles. If the urine test doesn't work for you, then the finger test is probably best for learning how to use your pelvic muscles. If you suffer from urinary stress incontinence, then you might want to see a doctor. They might have you do something similar to the finger test except with biofeedback equipment. They might also recommend surgery which is generally not necessary, Kegel exercises being a better option.
How much should you exercise these muscles? There's no specific guide-lines. Start with brief contractions and low repetitions then build up from there. As far as can be told, Arnold Kegel would have his patients work up to somewhere around 300 repetitions a day consisting of 6 second contractions with 6 second rest periods. (Perry & Hullett, 1988) You can do these exercises practically anywhere: in the shower, while watching television, etcetera. You can also do these exercises while masturbating or having sex and it might make such activities even more fun!
Conception can occur in a few different ways. Conception usually occurs through penile-vaginal sex during a time when the female is fertile, but it can occur through any form of sex in which sperm reaches the female's egg/s. Another possibility is artificial insemination, in which sperm is placed in the female's reproductive tract through means other than sex. Yet another possibility is in vitro fertilization in which an egg and sperm are fertilized outside of the female's body, and afterwards placed in her uterus.
Humans typically have 23 pairs of chromosomes, making 46 in total. The egg of a female will randomly contribute 23 of her different chromosomes, 1 of each pair, while the sperm of a male will randomly contribute 23 of his different chromosomes, 1 of each pair. So when a sperm fertilizes an egg, they form a single cell called a zygote. On a side note, X and Y are the sex chromosomes, all the others are referred to as autosomes. Females are generally paired with XX while males are generally paired with XY. Because of this, females can only contribute an X chromosome to their child whereas males can contribute an X or a Y.
"Gene" is often confusingly referred to in plural form even when it's not specified that way. For example, one might speak of the "gene" for eye color, when there's not actually a single gene for eye color but rather there are several genes that play a role. In such cases, the terms "polygene" or "genes" should be used to avoid confusion.
Each gene has 2 alleles, one from each chromosome. This allele combination is referred to as the genotype. If both of the alleles for that gene are the same, they're referred to as homozygous. If the alleles for that gene are different, they're referred to heterozygous. For a heterozygous gene, only 1 allele produces the phenotype. The allele that produces the phenotype is called the dominant allele and the allele that doesn't produce a phenotype is called the recessive allele.
If the genotypes of a specific gene are known for both parents, you can figure out what the chances of the offspring's genotype will be using a Punnett Square. The dominant allele is generally upper-cased while the recessive allele is lower-cased. The letter used doesn't really matter, but is generally the first letter of whatever dominant phenotype is being predicted based on the genotype.
The zygote starts in the fallopian tube. It divides rapidly and the outer cells form membranes that nourish and protect it while the inner cells become the embryo. Around a couple weeks after conception, the zygote reaches the uterus. In the uterus the placenta begins to form which will nourish the baby. Pregnancy is generally considered to begin on the first day of your last menstruation. The first trimester is generally considered to be weeks 1-13, the second trimester weeks 14-26, and the third trimester weeks 27-40. The developing body is referred to as an embryo for the first 1-8 weeks of pregnancy and is referred to as a fetus there after. Near the end of the first trimester, movement of the fetus begins and sexual differentiation of the fetus's brain and genitals occurs. Pregnant mothers might experience tender breasts, nausea, fatigue, hyperurea, heartburn, gastrointestinal problems, and dizziness during the first trimester. They might experience larger breasts, larger abdomen, Braxton Hicks contractions, skin color changes, stretch marks, nasal problems, gum problems, leg cramps, vaginal discharges, bladder infections, kidney infections, shortness of breath, and dizziness during the second trimester. Finally, they might experience similar symptoms in the third trimester as well as possible back aches, varicose veins, swelling of the legs and feet, and increased weight gain.
Once the fetus is born, it's referred to as a neonate for the first month of life. A baby/infant refers to ages 0-1. A toddler refers to ages 1-3. A child, in chronological terms refers to ages 3-13, in developmental terms it refers to any prepubescent individual, in kinship terms it refers to any individual born or raised by another, and in legal terms it refers to anyone under the age of consent. A tween/preteen/preadolescent refers to ages 8-13. An adolescent/teenager, in chronological terms refers to ages 13-20, in developmental terms it refers to an individual in the midst of puberty, and in legal terms it refers to around age 13 until reaching the age of consent.
Only a small minority of baby boys are born with a foreskin that's already retractable. The majority will defuse from the glans by age 3 to become retractable, but there are still a significant amount that don't become retractable until sometime during puberty.
Don't try to force retraction of a child's foreskin. Some parents think they need to do this in order to clean the glans. Urination by the child will clean the glans, so nature will likely take care of that for you. Trying to force the foreskin back before it's ready can potentially cause severe damage.
It's common for babies, both male and female, to have mild breast development, but this generally disappears within a few days or weeks. It's also common for babies, both male and female, to lactate during the first few days or weeks of life, but this also disappears.
Teach children to wipe from front-to-back after they defecate rather than back-to-front. This is especially important for females due to their urethra being in closer proximity to their anus. Wiping back-to-front can result in trace of amounts of feces ending up in the genitals which can then result in e. coli bacteria infecting the urethra which can then result in a urinary tract infection (UTI).
Somewhere between the ages of 2-3, a toddler learns to differentiate by gender.
It's common for babies and toddlers to play with their genitals. Most might do so without sustained volitional intent typical of masturbation, though others might very well be capable of experiencing sexual arousal through their genital touching and might even experience orgasm. Pelvic thrusts can also be observed amongst babies and toddlers, especially when cuddling with a family member, friend, doll, or plushie. It's common for many babies and toddlers to experience an erection or vaginal lubrication.
Babies are typically oral compulsive, and frequently put all sorts of objects in their mouths.
Babies and toddlers strongly require affectional love, largely through touch, in order for healthy psychological development to occur. Lack of affectional love can result in severe and permanent psychological dysfunction. (Prescott, 1975)
The nipples are erotic receptors and can elicit sexual feelings in some breastfeeding mothers. This might or might not mean they're sexually attracted to their own child. Regardless of what it might mean, it results in shame or guilt in some mothers. This is unfortunate because that can then lead to them not wanting to breastfeed, and breasfeeding is important not only for nutrition, but as a form of affectional love for the baby and toddler. In some societies, such as the Aka of Central Africa, it's even common for males to breastfeed babies and toddlers, mostly so when the mother is busy. They generally can't provide nutrition to the baby or toddler in this way, but it still provides comfort and affectional love.
How long an individual should breastfeed is a controversial and important issue. Looking at nonhuman animals might give us some insight as to when it's natural to stop breastfeeding a child. Most mammals wean their child around the time their child has tripled in birth weight, however, larger mammals and primates generally don't wean their child until their child has quadrupled in birth weight! (Dettwyler, 1994) For humans, this would be somewhere between 2-3 years of age. Furthermore, looking at different societies shows that breastfeeding until the age of 4 is quite common. (Dettwyler, 1994) Individuals rarely have memories of experiences under the age of 3, so if you worry about potential psychosexual trauma due to memories of breastfeeding, you're probably pretty safe if you wean by the age of 3. Some mothers prefer a natural approach and don't want to initiate weaning. If that's the case, most children will self-wean between the ages of 3-5. (Bumgarner, 2000) However, it should also be noted that some children don't ever seem to self-wean, wanting to breastfeed even beyond the age of 8.
There are many reflexes unique to babies which generally disappear or develop variably as the individual gets older.
There are also many reflexes which last even in adulthood.
Individuals often have long-term memories from the age of 3 and onward. This means traumatic experiences at this age might be more likely to have long-term implications.
Domestic play is common, in which children play with dolls, plushies, and household items. Boys might act like dads and girls might act like moms.
A curious behavior involves young children proposing marriage to their other gendered parent. Sexual attraction of a child to a parent is thought to be rare, so it can only be assumed that a young child has a different notion of what marriage means compared to older children or adults.
Children often experiment with other gendered behavior. For example, boys might dress in girl clothes. For another example, girls might try urinating while standing up.
Some children might be sexual while other children might be asexual, but virtually all children have sexual curiosity. It's common for children to have sexual questions such as "Where do babies come from?" However, children might learn to keep their sexual questions and behavior hidden if they sense or experience disapproval of sexuality.
Sex play is common and might serve to satisfy the curiosity drive, the sex drive, or both. Sex play might take form in games such as "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" or "doctor". Though incest is thought to be rare by society in general, sibling sex play is probably a lot more common than people realize. This is likely to be especially true under isolation, when there are no other children around to satisfy the child's curiosity drive or sex drive. Sex play might also be homosexual. This might or might not mean the child is or will develop a homosexual or bisexual orientation. The child might simply be curious to see how a same gendered individual's body compares to his/her own.
Young children are more likely to play in mixed gender groups. As children get older, they're more likely to play in same gendered groups. Boys are more likely to socialize with an activity focus whereas girls are more likely to socialize with sharing activities and face-to-face communication.
Brain puberty occurs before physiological puberty. This means a previously asexual child might develop the ability to experience sexual arousal and sexual attraction before visible changes in his/her body starts occurring.
Puberty generally occurs between the ages of 8 to 14 for females and 9 to 16 for males. Physical puberty is generally considered to begin with the sprouting of pubic hair. (Marshall & Tanner, 1969; Marshall & Tanner, 1970) For females, the vulva also enlarges, breast development occurs, the color of the labia might change, and the hips widen. For males, the penis also enlarges, the color of the scrotum might change, the shoulders might widen, muscle mass increases, and the larynx enlarges and the voice deepens. Breast development in males is also common around this time but it's generally mild and decreases or disappears on its own within a few years. Males develop the ability to ejaculate, and some females do too but most are probably more inclined to injaculate. (Cabello, 1997) Females also develop the ability to menstruate.
There's a difference between an estrus cycle and a menstrual cycle. Mammals that have an estrus cycle only seem to be interested in sex during the estrus phase of the cycle, whereas mammals that have a menstrual cycle generally seem to be interested in sex at all times. Another difference is that the estrus cycle generally lasts until death whereas the menstrual cycle generally ends sometime in late adulthood.
The estrus cycle consists of 4 phases:
The menstrual cycle consists of 4 phases.
It should be noted that a small minority of females have a hymen that completely closes the vagina which prevents menstrual flow.
The menstrual cycle can result in physical symptoms such as abdominal cramps and pain as well as psychological symptoms such as depression and irritability. However, one study showed through experiments that menstrual cycle symptoms can be exacerbated through the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. (Klebanov & Jemmott, 1992) In other words, if an individual believes she is going to suffer because of her menstrual cycle, she likely well. However, if she doesn't believe she is going to suffer from her menstrual cycle, she might or might not, but if she does then it likely won't be as severe. On a side note, physical symptoms can be reduced through masturbation or sex.
Another issue to do with the menstrual cycle involves the sex drive. Many studies show that a female's sex drive changes depending on where the female is at during her menstrual cycle, yet those same studies are often prone to expectancy bias. However, there's been one study that took measures to avoid expectancy bias yet still found an increase in sex drive around the time of the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge of the ovulatory phase of the menstrual cycle. (Bullivant et al., 2004) This provides evidence that the menstrual cycle has at least a mild effect on a female's sex drive.
Puberty typically finishes sometime during adolescence, though growth of the body can still occur well into adulthood through increased muscle mass as well as small, gradual increases in height.
Practically all men get erections in their sleep and practically all women get erections and vaginal lubrication in their sleep. If they don't, it could be a sign of sexual dysfunction. The dreams don't have to be sexual to produce erections or vaginal lubrication.
Adult-like competence is generally developed around age 14, though might be developed as young as age 11 in some individuals. (Ohio v. Akron, 1990) However, significant changes in the brain still occur even in young adulthood. (Cruel and unusual, 2004; Pujol, Vendrell, Junqué, Marti-Vilalta, & Capdevila, 1993)
Around this time, individuals are likely capable of becoming pregnant and impregnating, starting the life cycle all over.
Changes in the brain that might play a role in the ability to weigh pros and cons develop until around the age of 25. (Cruel and unusual, 2004; Pujol, Vendrell, Junqué, Marti-Vilalta, amp; Capdevila, 1993)
The chance of birth defects are significantly higher for pregnant females over the age of 30. (Age and fertility, 2003) Older adolescence and young adulthood is likely the optimal time for child birth, in terms of genetic quality and viability.
For athletic individuals, gains in strength and muscle mass generally don't reach their peak until late 30's. Peak development in flexibility, balance, and coordination might still be possible well after age 40. However, most athletic competitors do their best between the ages 25-35, though it can vary a great deal from sport to sport and from individual to individual.
When menopause occurs varies greatly amongst females, but it generally occurs before age 55.
Many individuals, though not all, experience a decrease in sex drive in seniority. This is probably due to andropause and menopause. However, it should be emphasized that a decrease in sex drive in seniority doesn't mean a complete cessation of sexual activity. Most seniors still have sex and masturbate at least occasionally.
Males might develop breasts around this time due to changes in sex hormone levels.
Physical health and mental abilities generally decrease.
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