Dr J's Sex Facts

Fun sex facts and accurate information from a clinical sexologist for a hotter and more fulfilling sex life.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Sexual Continuum, Part 2

“When authorities warn you of the sinfulness of sex,
there is an important lesson to be learned.
Do not have sex with the authorities.”

Matt Groening, Life in Hell

Welcome New Readers!

You may find this blog a bit different from others because my intention is to be both entertaining and educational. Each new post is based on information presented in the previous one; so to get the maximum benefit, I recommend you begin with the introductory post from the August archive and read forward from there.

Many of us spend an endless amount of time worrying about whether we’re “normal.” This is to be expected as the result of living in a culture such as ours with very narrow, restrictive and confining definitions about sexuality: anyone deemed by society at large as being outside the “normal” box is considered strange, perverse, and even (gasp!) sick. The fact is that people don’t actually come with a factory-installed, one-size-fits-all sexual “operating system.” Some of us are MACs, and some of us are PCs. Most of us have within ourselves the ability to be flexible (even if we haven’t yet explored that option or even admitted that possibility to ourselves), especially when we mature and are less concerned with conforming to societal norms. Don’t assume everyone is like you. Humans are DIVERSE. It’s what makes us unique. Here’s an analogy: although right-handedness is clearly more common than left-handedness, it’s equally OK to be right-handed, left-handed or ambidextrous. But watch out for people who can do things with their feet. (Just kidding.)

The Kinsey research team introduced us to the concept of the sexual continuum and discovered that sexual orientation can fluctuate during our lives. (Remember the pizza survey from my last post? ) As we observe sexual behaviors over an entire lifespan, we see that many people show a tendency to move up and down on that continuum, opening themselves to experimentation with different acts, positions and even partners of different genders. Keep in mind that we are all quite capable of eroticizing a wide variety of things to a greater or lesser extent.

Interestingly, the current research shows that women’s sexual orientation is even more flexible than that of men (just as with gender roles). Women seem to be more relaxed about their sexual feelings regarding other women—regardless of whether they self-define as gay, straight or bisexual. This attitude may be due, in part, to society’s perception that women’s sexuality is somehow less important than men’s. For instance, it’s generally much less acceptable by society at large for a man to have sex with another man (even once), than for a woman to have sex with another woman (which is generally considered to be hot). Yet, men can often be flexible too in SOME situations (although most aren’t comfortable discussing it). For instance, a man who self-identifies as straight will quite often engage in same-sex behavior while in prison, before cheerfully returning to women upon release, without a backward look. Now THAT’s flexibility!

It’s important to remember that sexuality is fluid: one can’t predict the future. You could be blithely walking down the street tomorrow and fall madly in love with a person who just happens to fall outside your “normal” sexual parameter. Hey, it happens. The movie “The Crying Game” is an excellent exploration of this phenomenon.

We’ve already discussed several historical reasons for our often narrow definitions of sexuality, but it’s important to keep in mind that there’s no such thing as “natural” or “unnatural.” Our very notion of what is “natural” and “unnatural” is an 18th century concept based on limited (and biased) observations of “nature,” e.g., what animals do. Contemporary scientific research reveals that even animals exhibit behaviors that are sexually diverse; and while most procreate (evolution selects for this), many also interact sexually with their same sex. Who knew? Besides, humans do many things other animals don’t (write, fly airplanes, surf the Internet, etc.), so to assert that humans should act sexually like other animals because it’s “natural” turns out to be based on a fallacy.

Today’s message from your Doc is: Relax and stop worrying about fitting in. Once you discover your true sexual self, cherish it. Don’t allow others to define your sexuality, because that actually gives them the ability to take it away from you. Your sexual self is a very precious and unique part of you which requires proper care and nurturing throughout your life.

The Doc is in for your questions and comments. I’d love to hear from you. Y’all write back now, hear?

With Pleasure,

Dr. J


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